This post by George Siemens really resonated down to my toes. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve started to feel guilty about the way I read these days. My wife gives me grief because I don’t spend as much time with books as I used to. And in some ways I miss that. But what I’m finding is that these new reading skills that I’m developing are necessary for the world in which I’m living.

What happens when we change how we interact with information? We “ramp up” our processing habits. Instead of reading, we skim. Instead of exploring and responding to each item, we try and link it to existing understanding. We move (in regards to most information we encounter) from specific to general thinkingÖfrom deep to shallow thinking. Shallow thinking, in this sense, isn’t as negative as its connotations. Shallow thinking (perhaps I need a better phrase) involves exploring many different sources of information without focusing too heavily on one source. Aggregating at this level helps us to stay informed across broad disciplines. So much of education intends to provide “deep learning”. Often, however, “shallow learning is desired” (i.e. we want to know of a concept, but we donít have time or interest to explore it deeply). All we need at this stage is simply the understanding (awareness?) that it exists. Often, learning is simply about opening a door…

As an example, today while skimming my Bloglines feeds, I formed a general awareness of lawsuits against Apple, developments with Google Base, blood tests for determining anxiety, etc. I’ve grown in my skills at rapid reading and aggregating information. Iíve also learned to quickly recognize information that is important for deeper exploration. The bulk of this work still happens in my head, but Iím encountering more software tools that assist the process. I donít think itís too ambitious to say that we are still very much at the beginning of a new era of learning Ė one defined by confusion in the abundance of informationÖand the accelerated need for determining which information is valuable, and how the pieces fit together.

Amen to all of that. And here’s to not feeling guilty about doing less deep reading than I’ve done in the past. When I’m moved to do so, I do so. But the fact that my reading habits have changed, that I’ve become better at quickly finding the main idea, that I’m more in tune with contextual cues to meaning, that I read with an eye to finding and saving resources that might be worth a more close inspection later on is a good thing, a different thing, not a bad thing. And it’s a skill that we’re going to have to teach our kids as well, once, of course, we master it…