Reading Online: Is It Really Reading?

It can be said that most people, especially younger people, are spending more and more time on the Internet. This means that most of their reading comes from online. But, does reading online count as “reading?”

The answer to that question is kind of. 

Jacob Nielsen researched how people read on the web in his article from Nielsen Norman Group website. He concluded that people don’t really read, but instead scan when they are online. They are only paying attention to the first two paragraphs of an article and then just focus on a couple of lines, but mainly the first couple of words in each line. They are reading in an F-shape which Nielsen calls the F-pattern.

In that case, reading online isn’t quiet as beneficial as reading a book. However, an article from the New York Times entitled “Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?” says differently. It states “Reading five Web sites, an op-ed article and a blog post or two, experts say, can be more enriching than reading one book.” With the web, you get a lot of different point of views in a shorter amount of time then it takes to read a book.

So, who’s right? I believe that both are in their own ways. I know that Nielsen idea of the F-pattern is correct because I personally have experienced this almost every time that I read an article. However, I still believe that it’s considered reading, even though it’s not as good as reading a book. You are still reading words and opinions of different people.

I think that people should read books and read on the web that way they will be able to continue ‘scanning the web,’ while still maintaining the benefits from reading a physical book. There might not be as much time available to read a book nowadays, but it’s still possible to get a chapter in every other day. 


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