Why can’t my technology read?

What should you look for when investigating text based technologies?


Reading comprehension tests or assessments are most typically imposed upon children as they ascend the academic ladder of early education. Those who pursue formal competency in a secondary or tertiary language are also likely to encounter a comprehension assessment. These tests are intended to evaluate competency in a number of areas, a partial list would most certainly include:

Background Knowledge

Think of this as the relationship of what is known and how that knowledge relates to what is read. An example would be an NBA basketball game. What is conveyed linguistically? If you have prior exposure and awareness of an NBA game, then the wood court, the backboard, the orange hoop, the net, the squeak from the player’s shoes, and of course the ball, are all conveyed by the conceptual context of the language and the background knowledge.


Syntax can be evaluated in a number of ways. An example might be the way someone who is not fluent in a language they are speaking might construct a sentence such as “I go with car to take my breakfast”. An alternative evaluation would ascertain the aggregation of simple expression into the more complex,” I sold that big house and bought another great one, but I really liked that house.


Semantics is most commonly associated to the meaning of word parts, whole words, sentences and communication in the context that is expressed. This evaluation would be employed to assess the ability to disambiguate meaning in the content expressed. In this example the word bear is employed four times each with a different meaning and therefore a different context.

The bear ran through the woods.

The right to bear arms.

Bear down Chicago Bears.

The ability to disambiguate by understanding the meaning of what is expressed in the context as expressed, is fundamental to understanding and therefore comprehending what is written.

When considering any technology strategy that relates to the management of written communication and content, test for reading comprehension before you advance that strategy. Most organizations require their staff to be capable of reading and comprehending what their colleagues, customers, and market communicate, but you may be surprised how illiterate your technology actually is.


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