Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Skimming

I have been enjoying the luxury of sitting in training seminars lately.  I love learning, and the fact that the topics are aligned with my current job description allows me to apply my new found knowledge immediately.  It's not that I don't enjoy sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a hotel conference room for eight hours a day.  No!  It's that the instructors try to teach more than the curriculum.  One particular instructor, in an attempt to sell us on taking other courses from this training group, kept advertising his ability to speed read and how taking this other course will HELP YOU TOO.

As an engineer, there is a specific time to skim and a specific time to read every word.  For example, the difference between "shall" and "may" in a specification or statement of work could cost you millions of dollars through failure to understand the requirements.  Sure, you skimmed them, and got the gist of the idea, but you failed to realize the difference between a recommendation from a requirement, and that's what cost you.  (This particular instructor was not too fond of me stealing his sales potential by questioning that point publicly.)

None the less, skimming is a great time saver when used properly and we are cognizant when it can fail.  Taking the time to do the job right should be every engineer's motto.  Increasing your reading skills is great, but don't take shortcuts when public safety and well-being is on the line.
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