I haz a theory that Millennials read differently than I (Gen X) do

I’m noticing something, which I shall, as usual, turn into a probably specious generalization. BUT IT’S INTERESTING.

One of the things the amazing and brilliant Lisa Bates got on my case about. In particular: with reading a “blog post about blog post” (which I admit I didn’t know was a Special Thing), I didn’t read the links. Her notion, I think, was I was being a lazy reader for not following the links and reading those. My interpretation: I didn’t know blog posts could be about other blog posts, and I don’t follow all the links out of politeness to the writer of the original post. If you go leaving his/her post, you almost never get back. Or do you? I almost never do! I go click the link to read that, and that post has got links, and you gotta go click on those, and soon enough you have to go to the bathroom and then you’ve got a student in your office and then the dean and then something else and so you never get to the first writer’s conclusion. So I tend not to follow ANY link unless it is a link back to the original news story, or the original blog post.

I don’t tend to use links as *reporting* where people are meant to follow them in order to understand my meaning. I use links to point to original points and essays and then summarize those points as I understand them–I also use them to hat tip.

A “meta” post–like a blog post about blog posts suggests a different type of read than essay reading. How does one DO blog posts about blog posts? Do you read the original writing in its entirety and THEN go back through for links? How does one select which links to read, on the assumption that reading one essay’s link will probably take you to another essay with links? Do you a priori select which links you are going to read first, and then go down the order that way? This is far more like putting together a puzzle than reading an essay.

Or do you just scat about clinking links here and there? How does one learn what writers are saying that way? I DO NOT KNOW. Somebody must know. TELL ME.

The OTHER thing I have noticed is that my students do not mind polemics about things that have no reporting, or polemical titles for essays or articles that they otherwise like. My planning students will circulate “Stupid government planners outwitted by artist” as a title with comments like “dumb title but great article!” Whereas I take titles very seriously. The article I just mentioned (and that’s not its title, but it might as well be), for instance, has a discussion of how city planners fostered the program that enabled artists to come up with a better design for something they wanted to communicate in a high profile way. Now, that’s hardly “governments planners being outwitted.” It’s almost like this generation of readers has simply become used to having their core values in place, they just don’t take it seriously when people use cheesy polemic to try to grab eyeballs, and they don’t see that sensationalism as part of the *reporting* (which makes it weak to my mind) but, instead, as an inevitable part of the marketing.

I have no idea if any of these impressions are right or not, but this is what I am thinking about today. What are you thinking about?