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Are you ‘reading’ or ‘screening’ this?

Are you ‘reading’ this oped on paper, or are you ‘screening’ it online?

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.


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