On a given day, I read at least 10 different articles in online format, which functions as the better part of my entertainment reading. I feel like online news sources eclipsed hard-copy newspaper publications in terms of my readership at least 10 years ago. Furthermore, they’re a lot easier on our trees. Anyway, I read online articles in about the same non-linear way I used to read newspapers, but there is an added element to web articles that was absent completely from newspapers: a comment section on nearly every article. I read these like so: I read the first paragraph of a report-style (narrative-style net articles get read in linear fashion in case you wondered) article, and if I’ve decided that I understood what it is about, I zip down to the comment section and see what people are saying about the topic.
Part of why I take this path is that there’s no one telling me I can’t, and the other part is the idea that writers of internet articles, due to physical detachment, suffer from a (some say undeserved) lack of perceived credibility. If I disagree with the article, I peruse comments for like opinions and satisfy myself that I am not alone. If I agree, I browse for comments that disagree, and satisfy myself that I am in line with the “spirit of the age” or whatever, and this poor SOB is not. Kudos for me!
Popular opinion is how I judge a number of things about an article, such as whether the views expressed therein are widely held or not, or if someone had something funny/ignorant/funny-because-it’s-ignorant to say about it. I don’t look at all web articles this way, however. If an article deals with a topic that is political, I have less than zero interest in what other people typically say because, for every insight into the political process I find, there are 50 “ObAmA SuCkS!!1” comments which bury it from educated eyes. Political stuff gets read in linear fashion because it is typically deeper than “You’ll Never Guess What This Lady Found in Her Burger!”
For a literature class, if I have an everyday reading assignment, I’ll read the whole work in linear fashion. This most likely falls in line with the intended trajectory of academic reading, as it follows a singular path. However, if I am reading for a research paper, I definitely try to spend as little time between the covers as necessary, especially if I need more than one source, which is always the case. Perhaps this is not what my professors intend, but they surely do not desire my work to be weeks late because I exhaustively read all of my sources. In such a way, I am the essential pragmatic student, haha. For education classes, I will do linear diligence to most articles I’m asked to read and go start-to-finish – unless I can find the main idea quickly.