Reading as leisure

As writers and readers, we try to incorporate web research and web reading into our daily diet. Yet, as important as it is, we all know how scattered and fragmented web reading is.

Google’s chief economist Hal Varian, speaking at UC Berkeley, about the future of journalism, said:

“How can we make newspaper reading a leisure-time activity again? We know reading the news is valuable to our customers, but they don’t spend much time doing it.”

I wish I could say to him: “Stop putting so much junk on every page.”

We recall, of course, when reading the newspaper in print was a presentation of long thoughtful articles, well-written, without much distraction. That gave us the sense of leisure to sit and turn pages, read full articles, and reflect.

Today’s online reading, with blinking ads, belly flab, and lots of other distractions ruins concentration, calling us to move left, move right, click here, wait for ads… Where was I???

You don’t have to let your online reading be such a distraction, and you can calm the chaos when doing web research. Here are two quick tips …

1. When reading an article on line, view it in ‘print preview’ or click the ‘print’ icon within the article. It will present the page to you formatted for printing, stripping out all the unnecessary columns of clutter and most of the ads. You cab read it on the screen with no jumping ads.

2. For web research, start using tabbed browsing, if you don’t already. In your browser, press Ctrl + T to open a new tab, and your prior research will be on a first page, and you can open more tabs to see research side by side, instead of burying it in one browser window. Within a long page of text, use the Edit / Find function like you would in Word, and you can jump right to the passage you want to read or highlight.

I hope these tips give you a jump start on your Saturday morning writing projects.

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