Orientation reading involves reading as a wandering generality. In this mode, you are looking for the unexpected. Orientation reading is also useful for building vocabulary and acquiring basic concepts useful for communicating with team members.
Since there is no feedback loop to tell you when you are done, it is important to set time limits when reading in orientation mode. In several industries today, there is far more information in trade journals and books than most people have time to read. To spend too much time reading general trade information is to risk not getting anything done.
On the other hand, if you are reading to solve a problem, you know it's time to stop reading when the problem has been solved--when you've gathered enough information to take the necessary actions to solve the problem, or complete the project you are working on.
Orientation mode is where high level scanning is most useful. A thorough survey of the infoscape will help you zero in on the most useful sources of information when you begin to solve a specific problem.
In summary, both styles of reading are useful. The difference is in how you schedule your time. Orientation reading is done for specific fixed periods of time. Project reading is done only when the problem is solved, and sometimes it is difficult to know how long that will take.
Copyright © 1996 by Patrick T. Magee