Are you ‘reading’ this oped on paper,
or are you ‘screening’ it online?
If you are reading this oped commentary in the printed version of the
newspaper, you are “reading” it, of course. But if you are reading
this article online, on the paper’s
website, are you “reading” it or “screening” it?
Although the word does not exist yet with this new defintion, one
could conjecture that what we do online is not
reading per se, but “screening.” When we read news online we read a
text printed digitally on a computer screen.
Perhaps we need a new word to describe this phenomenon.
When I asked a senior computer industry reporter at the New York Times, John
Markoff, about this new term, he answered in a one-word email
I think he didn’t quite cottoned to the new term.
But at least he was listening.
Can anyone just coin a new word and make it stick? No, but
new words are coined everyday, and some stick and some don’t. Time
will tell whether or not “screening” (meaning “reading information on
a computer screen, as distinct from reading a print newspaper or
magazine or book”) will stay with us or not. For now, though, the new word has
been accepted and listed by the editors at an online dictionary in
California called The Urban Dictionary.
Screening is defined there as: “To read text on a computer screen,
cellphonescreen, Kindle screen or PDA screen or BlackBerry screen;
replaces the term “reading” which now only refers to reading print
text on paper.”
Example: “I hate reading print newspapers now. I do all my screening online.”
The word is so new that most readers — and “screeners” — have never
heard of it.
James Fallows, an editor for the Atlantic Monthly now living in
Beijing, told me that word was “interesting” but that he was “not likely
to be an early
adopter of it.”
What’s your take on this new word? Are you a reader or a screener, or both?
And speaking of reading on a screen, the new Amazon Kindle e-reader that is
for sale now in the U.S. has spawned a new verb about reading on a
screen as well.
Kindle users often refer to their reading a book on the Kindle screen
as “kindling”, and
they sometimes write on their blogs that they “like to kindle
bestsellers” in their Kindles.
And this word, to kindle, as a verb, has also been accepted by the
editors at the Urban Dictionary in California. Go figure.