Reading the World Wide Web

The Successful Web Reader

Just as with print, we read on the Web for a variety of reasons. We may be on the Web to carelessly surf and entertain ourselves, or to find some needed piece of information, or to interact with people and texts around the world. While the following criterea for success apply mainly to the Web reader in search of information you may find them helpful in other ways as well.

Synthesize, Associate, Connect!

To suceed on the Web you have to think like a Web page. Information is not stored or presented in a linear manner, you've got to be willing to think associatively—what connections can you make between the text you are reading and a text that may contain the information you are looking for? or a piece of text that you just read?

You've got to synthesize material quickly. You'll be swamped with information on the Web, be prepared to evaluate information and decide how it meets or does not meet your needs. Where does this or that piece of information fit into the schema of your work? or your play?

Don't Read Unless You Have To— Scan

There's just too much information on the Web to waste time reading unless you really need to be. Learn to scan Web pages to locate the information you need. Look for key information in bulleted lists, menu bars, and other functional areas. Focus in on highlighting techniques that may lead you to key information.

Distracted— To Be or Not To Be

You may be carelessly surfing the Web for pure entertainment, but if you have a goal in mind do your best to stick to it. The Web is full of distractions such as advertisements, links to this and that, etc. You may find something of use if you wander a bit, but you also could get hopelessly lost. Some would argue that the distractions are what makes the Web great, but it comes down to what is your purpose for being there.

Critical Linking

You may be one who enjoys surprise, but if you looking hard for an elusive piece of information surprise is not what you need. Most well designed links will let you know to some degree what to expect when you click on them as will they give you a way to get back once you've gone. Know before you go is a good rule to follow.

Where Am I and How Did I Get Here?

Being lost on the Web is not as life threatening as being lost in the woods, but it can be equally frustrating at times. Do your best to avoid that lost feeling and the insuing panic. Many of the tips in the Strategies for online reading section help with knowing where you are including using the history function on your browser, using site maps, and menu bars.

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Introduction