What is highlighting?
Highlighting is assuming the author didn’t write very well: Did she really not need all those other lines? Did she really not provide intelligent, conected paragraphs that don’t need highlighting to make their point?
Roadmaps are useful, but good authors have already added these — if you know better, write your own book: We need to read it.
Altering a book for someone else.
At its least harmful, highlighting is unhelpful and rude to other readers. It stops them from thinking their own thoughts, exercising their own judgment. Instead it distracts them from what bought both of you there in the first place: the Author’s text.
At its worst, highlighting not only prevents others from hearing the author. Instead, they hear a bully in the room. Voice raised in highlighter-green “You don’t need to read that… This is what I, narcissist, tell you to think, that’s what you need.”
Is not helping yourself
Text can be complex. Can contain many ideas, which can be linked, and can be hard to understand. But highlighting is not a solution.
Highlighting is intellectually lazy: You don’t understand, so instead you mark it. You think some line is “the key”, so you mark it. You find you have marked every line, and the key is more lost than ever.
And still you don’t understand. Because reading is not highlighting. And teachers are not people to tell you what to highlight.
Highlighting subtracts from text
In the “real” world of books, the “value” of highlighting is indicated by the fact that highlighted books are virtually unsaleable. Highlighting makes text near-worthless.
Thankfully, in the world of books, you are not simultaneously highlighting every other copy in existence. But on medium (at least as of March 2015) you are.
For some reason medium created highlighting (which as a completely private set of notes might have some value) as a method of public expression. Not only that, they did it explicitly to allow people to express themselves who are too lazy to write, or even use both hands to accomplish a task.
I’d say that’s the opposite of a medium for intellectual growth.
And that’s what medium has already taken many steps towards becoming: It’s awesome. It has the potential to join alongside wikipedia as a force for enhancing the availability of knowledge in the world.
So, in a leap of good faith, I assume it’s all been fixed, this essay has no point, and you can’t highlight this paragraph by now :-)