Users don’t read
Users only scan
Users haven’t got
No attention span
I hate to get vulgar when it’s not even Friday yet, but this is bullshit.
Even in this current incarnation, there’s a critically important dodge:
Because users are in a hurry to find the very piece of information they’re looking for which is exactly what they normally do when reading newspaper articles and non-fiction books. They scan to skip the irrelevant.
In other words, people read on the web almost exactly the way they read anywhere else: they skim till they find what they need. This is manifestly not the same thing as “users don’t read,” and claiming that it is will almost certainly lead to stupid content and UX choices. The whole anti-reading campaign is based on a fundamental misunderstanding about the ways in which people read printed text, and the difference between their behaviors as online and offline readers.
In fact, people read more deeply online than they do in print, and on the web, “scanners” tend to read about as much text as “methodical readers.” Go read the whole Poynter EyeTrack ‘07 report site. It’s excellent, as is Leen Jones’s post on the subject.