computer & booksReading online is nothing like reading a book or a magazine. When I read a book, I take my time, read almost every word, and re-read parts that I didn’t quite understand the first time. When I read online, however, I tend to skim so rapidly that I often miss key bits of information.

Instant messaging conversations are probably the worst. Each party is so busy typing out what they want to say that it’s easy to miss a question or a comment the other person made. I’ve reviewed important or long IM conversations before and been appalled at some of the stuff I neglected to respond to. And a lot of times, the other person doesn’t even ask again because the conversation has already swept along to another unrelated topic.

Just now, I received a forwarded email from someone asking me to buy something for them. First I’d like to say that emails should be kept to-the-point rather than stuffed full of meandering sentence fluffs, preferably with lists if there are items involved. Anyway, I have no excuse for not reading the email carefully (even though I went over it twice) and ended up wasting time figuring out what specifically the person wanted when he’d already spelled it out. I still think the primary blame lies with the writer. HA!

Most of my online reading originates from Google Reader where I have 322 RSS feed subscriptions for news, information blogs, and personal blogs. Over the last 30 days, I’ve read (skimmed) 5,525 items for an average of 184 bits of info a day*. That’s not a lot compared to some people like Robert Scoble who has apparently read 28,433 items in the past 30 days from 739 subscriptions. But I wonder just how many he reads carefully and how many details he can recall.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter in this day and age when you can hop on Google and pull up whatever you need. But it sure is embarrassing to find out that you’ve missed key points that were right in front of your face.

How do your online and offline reading habits differ?

*FYI, if you use Google Reader, you can find these stats under the Trends link in the left sidebar. I’d be curious to know your stats too!