Saturday, November 04, 2006

Reader's Reactions

158-5894_IMG As you read a new techy book or blog, what are your reactions as you bounce to an idea? Here is my canonical list:

1) What you are talking about?
2) Aha!
3) Oh, PLEASE :( I’ve heard that before :-[
4) Oh, YES! I’ve heard that before! :-)

1) What you’re talking about. I don’t respond. I don’t understand. I don’t care. Is it because the author lives in another world? Or it just so poorly written? I’ll never know. I don’t get what you are talking about.

2) “Aha” is something new, original, and catchy to me. Very few ideas are original, none are new. But then I get it the first time, it’s AHA. It’s personal. It’s enlighting.

3) “Oh please, I’ve heard that before”, and it was better last time I heard it. Poor repetition of non-original ideas are boring. Worse, irritating when done without even mentioning the original.

4) YES, I heard that before, but you just made it home. Tiny twist that made it click to my personal experience. Artistic popularization that made difference. A calculated appeal to my secret obsession that makes me agree 100% in advance. Or my pure reader’s joy.

Make your list. Read it through. Is it as subjective as mine? Is it as silly as mine?

What do we really take from our reading? We only get what we are ready for. We only get what we want. We only get what we agreed with in advance. A famous experiment tracked the readers’ eye focus as they read editorials of their favorite newspapers. They were reading along as far as they were agreed with the editor’s view. But just when they hit a controversial point injected in the middle of the text, their focus jumped to another page. They only got what they were ready to get.

Thousands of books published, bought, and presumably read. Millions of blog articles hit, browsed, and presumably skimmed. Billions of men-hours spent on reading all these books and blogs. It’s a lot of reading! If we know what we get in advance, why do we still read?

Is it for those rare, enlighing, very personal Aha moments? For intellectual and emotional bursts exploded from the points we violently agree? For food for thoughts generously generated by our critical view on the points of violent disagreement?

Hey, you just read this. Why?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Post a Comment

<< Home