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I’ve linked to articles in the past that discuss how we read differently online – and not for the better. We skim, have shorter attention spans, and read more superficially – in comparison to the printed page. Bloggers are usually told not to write posts over 500 words if you want people to read to the end. (Yeah, right, that is usually impossible for me. Mine are typically around 1,000 words.) As a committed of a reader as I am, even I can’t read much more than 1,000 words on-line.

Recently I printed out a bunch of articles and posts from online locations. I’m working on a project and needed the material in front of me. If I really need or want to understand something, I’ve got to print it out. I need hard copies. What flabbergasted me was this:

A number of the posts I printed looked so “long” on my computer screen. But when I printed them out, each article only consumed about 1 to 2 printed pages!! That’s it! These were actually short articles, at least by the standard of the printed page.

See what all this online reading is doing to us? It limits our attention span. It makes us think a short article is long! How pathetic is that. If we can’t absorb much more than 500 – 1,000 words, that limits our ability to learn and grasp deeper content.

You’ll notice on the right side of my blog it says “I pledge to read the printed word.” If you click on it, it takes you to this statement:

We support the printed word in all its forms: newspapers, magazines, and of course books. We think reading on computers or phones or whatever is fine, but it cannot replace the experience of reading words printed on paper. We pledge to continue reading the printed word in the digital era and beyond.

Of course, I don’t think many people are abandoning print all together. Yet, I think many of us could cut back, at least some, on computer screen reading! Right? Challenge yourself to read more of the printed word this year.

This post is under 360 words so I hope you finished it!

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