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Sarah Riegel
Professor Jan Rieman
UWRT 1103
September 17, 2014
(8) Reading On-line
Dear fellow online readers,
I think most of us can agree that much of the information we receive comes from a digital
source. How does that affect the way we seek, understand, and absorb information? It cannot be
denied that a digital medium offers numerous composing tools and greater, more easilyaccessible databases of knowledge that we would not have access to if we belonged to a
predominately paper generation. However, the question remains, have you ever really considered
how you interact with reading online texts?
The first element to consider is our purpose for reading online. Perhaps we typically read
through academic journal entries in order to collect research, or online news articles to stay
culturally and politically aware, or even online magazines for entertainment. This contributes to
how we interact with texts online to whether or not we skim, read thoroughly, or only give a
passing glance to an article. In his article, You Did Finish That Article!, Farhad Manjoo
expresses concern generated by his findings that only twenty-two percent of people read all the
way through his article. Is this a problem? Are those of us who are guilty of failing to read an
entire article disrespecting the authors, as Manjoo seems to suggest? Lets look at this through a
lens of purpose. I find that it is often necessary to first skim the first few paragraphs of a text to
determine whether it is a creditable source for research, or whether I have any interest in the
piece as entertainment. I also usually discover articles through social media. It is sometimes

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difficult to ascertain from a blurb just what an article will be like. I would like to suggest then
that many people who leave an article immediately may not have intended to land there at all.
Does this apply to a printed piece? Do we interact more thoroughly with a physical text
that we can hold in our hands? I was surprised to see that the 2007 study by Poynter produced
evidence suggesting that more people read online texts more closely. I suppose this differs on a
person-to-person basis, but it is beneficial to understand your own preferences so to better
engage with what youre reading.
Manjoo also calls for the disposal of pagination, or breaking up articles into multiple
pages, in Stop Pagination Now. I also find pagination to be distracting, particularly when done
for the purpose of cramming more advertisements into an article. The argument has been made
that pagination keeps readers from becoming discouraged by a long article, but various sites have
been able to do just that without pagination. My favorite online magazine is Buzzfeed, which
Manjoo also draws attention to for its format. Buzzfeed puts each article on one page and
integrates advertisements in a way that doesnt distract readers. However, it should be noted that
I prefer reading Buzzfeed articles on my smart phone, where I cannot easily judge the length of
an article. This also introduces forms of technology as an influence on interaction with online
texts. Do you typically read on your smart phone like me, or do you prefer a laptop or tablet?
I could continue, but I would not want to waste your time. After all, I am not writing to
tell you my preferences. What then is my purpose for writing you all? I wish to bring your
attention to how you yourself individually interact with online texts. As members of a society
entrenched in technology, it is imperative for us to be self-aware of how we engage online.
Best of wishes,
Your fellow online reader

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Reflective Afterthought
A number of Writing to Explore assignments and in-class discussion have influenced me
to consider whether online or physical copies of a text are easier to interact with. This is why I
chose this prompt for this week. I chose the format of a letter in order to better appeal to my
audience. In addition, I utilized informal language, particularly the word we, to relate more to
my audience of technology-integrated people. I also assumed most of my readers would be
young adults who would be more likely to get information from articles linked to social media
sites. I included hyperlinks to further demonstrate what conventions are characteristic to online
texts, and provide resources for those who wish to explore in forming their own opinions. I posed
a lot of rather open-ended questions that were not completely answered in the body of my letter
for my purpose of making people self-aware of their own interaction with online texts. I
specifically stated this purpose to foster the readers critical literacy skills and make them even
more aware. I chose to integrate my personal reflection through examples to establish
creditability.