Take a moment and ‘unpack’ the way we read online. In the context of this week’s topic, this means thinking about how notions of credibility, editorship, control and open source effect our consumption (and indeed ‘prosumption’) of news information in the digital media scape.
However, I would also like you to think more broadly about how you determine what texts you read/consume/share online in multiple contexts – whether it be researching for an assignment, finding instructions for DIY projects, or determining the cause of a medical symptom (Dr Google anyone?). How has the way we read, evaluate and ‘understand’ information changed in the current digital environment? Or indeed, has it changed at all?
Are we skimmers or readers? As one who is hit with a barrage of information on a daily basis, I would say that, when my time is pressed, I am a skimmer. I have become adept at gleaning the main points in an article, email or blog post. However, as a Gen X’er, I am conscious of the fact that in some cases, I should take the time to read through things properly. There are times when skimming is not appropriate or sufficient. When I do take this approach to reading, I feel as though I’m too slow or consuming information at a leisurely pace.
Personally, I curate information a lot more these days. I manage to see a lot of information that I consider to be useful (for work or study) that I simply don’t have the time to fully absorb. So, I use tools such as ScoopIt!, Twitter and Pinterest to curate information that I wish to return to and read at a later stage.
I think these approaches to my daily information overload help me to sift through what I consider to be important or that which can be cast aside. My reading is definitely more rushed. Any evaluation of a topic or reading I might have to do quickly is something which goes on in the back of my head, as I ruminate upon the topics presented, if time allows. However, it is not an activity that is given the time is deserves, in my opinion. I’m sure this must impact upon my understanding of what I am digesting. I find that my mind jumps around a lot more these days, as I am repeatedly bombarded by news, information and images from all sides.
Does that mean we all have shorter attention spans or are perpetually distracted by the news cycle? I have the feeling that we have all adapted to this speedy consumption of information out of necessity in order to keep up in a rapidly changing information environment.
The production and dissemination of media was previously a lot slower. Web technology has enabled many of us to not only consume much more information on a daily basis, but it has permitted us to create our own in order to partake of the information landscape ourselves. Globalisation and the virtually instantaneous ability to absorb, digest, modify and regurgitate a new form of the same information has challenged the traditional notions of that information spreading, whether it be via news sources, blogs, or other electronic communicative means. We, too, are able to be citizen journalists, where what we see and hear around us can also become part of that information cycle.
Again, on a personal level, it is for this reason that I try to be as contemplative as possible about what I am reading, watching or hearing. I make a deliberate effort to analyse where, why and how the information I am receiving was created. I ask how much bias it contains as well as question the author / creator’s motives for producing it in the first place. The cynic in me wonders how much others are at pains to take this much care with the information they consume on a regular basis.