Is there a difference between reading and skimming? In some circumstances, skimming web pages for example, a great deal of information can be assimilated quickly and efficiently. The danger in the digital age is that skimming will become the norm for reading and the more detailed and beautiful aspects of the English language, the nuances and shades of meaning found in metaphors and worked over sentences will disappear.
Language and the ways in which humans use writing to express the complexity of thoughts and emotions cannot be reduced to a quick look or a quick read. Language is an elastic and infinitely changeable medium. It can accommodate a wide variety of shortcuts (UR for "you are") as well as abuses. But, the ways in which we use writing in particular to express our deepest as well as most profound thoughts, requires sensitive and careful readers. As skimming becomes the norm, the question to ask is whether or not we can slow down the process of reading effectively enough to grab its subtleties.
Ironically, the Kindle does just that. The comfort that we have developed with screens is translated beautifully and simply into the Kindle. This light, thin and carefully thought out technology may just create the balance between skimming and reading that will keep the power and beauty of language from disappearing.
We need some new definitions and explanations for reading in the digital age.