June 8 Day 92: Reading on a Small Screen

Have you noticed how people regularly apologize for typos and other errors in email responses sent from mobile devices? I feel like maybe we should be sending apologies for reading the original message on the mobile device as well.

I mostly skim messages on my phone. When I receive something that deserves close reading, reflection, critical analysis, or a careful reply I can:

  • mark it as important and return to it later on my computer, knowing there is a 50-50 chance it will get lost in the volumes of email that follow;
  • try to read and dash off a quick response that addresses one or two items at best and ignores the rest. We will end up having several electronic interchanges and no one is particularly satisfied;
  • ignore it entirely and spend a considerable portion of some future day replying thoughtfully, which is not seen as being responsive, especially during a time of crisis.

I have no answers to this problem. I only know that in isolation where everything is done remotely, all the screen time (whether big or small) exacerbates the problem. If you are waiting for a response from me and a few days have passed, please try again. It might be that I skimmed your message on my cell phone and I have never managed to get back to it.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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