As an MBA student, I do a lot of required reading both on- and off-line. I also read a lot that no one requires me to read. I love to read – books, magazines, newspaper articles, online articles & blogs. I’m also a very focused person (in other words, I’m very bad at multitasking). I work best when I can focus on one thing for a long period of time, and interruptions cause complex patterns of thought to vaporize.
All my life I have been annoyed when a newspaper article is interrupted by the phrase, “Continued on page A19.” When I read I get into a very focused, tunnel-vision groove. It seems very rude to me that someone saw fit to place the article on two different pages, one of which has the continuations of several other articles and a bunch of ads. First, there’s the interruption of my focused groove. Then, I have to search for the rest of the article. And most wrong, once I do find it, it turns out to be just a few sentences long.
It happens in some of the readings I have to do for school, too. When reading a peer-reviewed article, a reader often can’t get through a whole sentence without having the thought process pulverized by multiple citations of other peer-reviewed articles. This is what it looks like:
The process of making a peanut butter & jelly sandwich consists of several steps (Doe & Jones, 2007), most of which require extensive cleanup afterward (Doe & Jones, 2008). This extensive cleanup can involve more steps (Jones & Jones, 2009) that require the use of expensive cleaning solvents (Doe & Doe, 2010).
Pretty annoying, right? It’s a good thing that not every scholar writes this way; a lot of them prefer to use footnotes and endnotes.
But thanks to the ad-supported internet, it does get worse. I love being able to get news via the web – it’s faster and doesn’t involve the newspaper delivery personnel not being able to find my house despite being given explicit directions and my phone number. And yet, I find myself drawn back to physical newspapers every time I read a news article online. The reason is that ads are not just in both margins of the page, but also are inserted into the text of the article itself.
Whatever happened to the days of just turning a word in the article into a hyperlink? That was the least obtrusive, and still provided the reader a way to do some background reading if necessary. Now, instead of this…
Making a PB&J contains several steps. Some of these steps can make a mess.
…we get this…
Making a PB&J contains several steps.
BONUS: How to make a PB&J in 27 easy steps! Click here! Do it! Now!
Some of these steps can make a mess.
BONUS: How to use common floor wax to clean peanut butter off your counter! Click here! Do it! Now!
To combat this, I used to just click the “Print Friendly” button. But the ad gurus have copped wise to that ploy, and one can no longer get away from the annoying interruptions by reading from the print-friendly screen.
What do you think of these interruptions? Are they annoying or necessary? If necessary, why? If annoying, how do you deal with it?
[Comments will not appear right away; please be patient. As always, please be civil to me and the other readers & commenters.]