The story in question — about how scanning and skimming our way through the Internet appears to be messing with how we read deeper, longer works — went viral earlier this week, with insane numbers of page views, a gazillion tweets, and even an a starring role in Craig Ferguson's late-night TV monologue.
Though there were many chants of "me, too" about the story on Twitter, there were also many jokes that took this form: "I skimmed it."
So we decided to actually test this. The good folks at Chartbeat, which tracks how people read digital content, performed an analysis and found that 25 percent of readers stopped reading this story before they even reached the article text. A smaller percentage of other readers dropped off somewhere toward the middle. And 31 percent made it all the way through. I have a lollipop for all of them.
As the writer, should I be happy about those numbers or deeply, deeply sad? I asked Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat's chief data scientist. Then I held my breath.
"Anytime I talk to journalists they always ask that question," Schwartz said.
Not an answer. This felt not good.
Conclusion? We're not really reading and let's be honest, any glance at a comments section reveals that no matter the length of the article, there will be people who are picking out one or two terms and then write a long and angry screed which is really only tangentially related to the original post.