Thursday, 31 January 2008

Stop Reading - Skim Dive Skim

Genie left a great comment on one of my favorite posts - Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog. She said:
"Because this is the way that we're going to learn in the future" - I love it!

Not sure about the 9 year olds though, my kids are downloading music and games and creating their own language on messenger. So not so certain about reading - no one reads these days - they play. Blogs are the last gasp before virtual interactive education takes over the schools. Plug in and turn off.
The 9 year olds reference is around a statement made by Karl Kapp - “my 9 and 11 year old sons have a deeper understanding of the tools” than you do.

Genie made me think a bit ... (thanks Genie) ...

While she is talking about kids in the future and their use of writing and reading, it really made me wonder:
Do we read anymore? Should we read anymore?
I know that I rarely really read anymore ... I skim and then dive in depth and then skim. I read as few words as possible. Just enough to get the general sense of what is being discussed. I miss a lot of detail, but I also am pretty good at being able to find the detail when I need to get to it.

I have a horrible habit of reading my email using this same reading style. This means that I sometimes miss important pieces of information buried somewhere in an email. [Edit - I originally wrote horrible. But I'm not so sure.]

And, in comparison to most executives that I know, I'm quite thorough. Send most executives a two page email and you are lucky if they skim the first two lines. Do they read their business books in depth? Did you read this? I don't think so, they find the single concept and then figure that the rest of the 200 pages give great support for that concept.

Genie is talking about kids, but in thinking about what she said and my own behavior, actual reading of items from start to finish is pretty much gone.
My bet is that many of you have skimmed right down to this item. Did you miss the question I asked in the paragraph above?

There's an embedded poll right here to show you how many people are skimming vs. reading.

My bet is most people, especially those reading blogs, are skimmers. And, they are right to be skimmers! So -

Stop reading.

Skim, dive, skim. That's the way to go.

Oh, and you need to have skills around understanding, keeping and refinding. You skim at a level that gives a basic understanding, allows you to make a decision around what it is, do you need this again and how you will store it away (if at all).

The only time you actually read something is when you need all the details for processing right then. Otherwise, it's a waste of time to go through all the details. You only need enough to understand what it is and get back to the details later.
Most often there is no payoff for reading. Skim dive skim is the best ROI on your time.

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