Friday, 28 March 2014

Speed-reading with Spritz


I am a reasonably fast reader, but I often skip potentially interesting blog posts and online articles simply because they seem too long. I've half persuaded myself that anything worth saying can be said briefly, but I also know this could be wishful thinking.

Spritz is a soon-to-be-released app for reading text on small screens - and reading it much more rapidly than we’re accustomed to.

So I recently tried the Spritz speed-reading demo, easily managing 600 words per minute. Do I wish to read like this though? I'm not sure. The effect is an impressive demonstration of how fast we can take in written information, but somehow it isn't satisfactory - at least for me.

What about graphs, diagrams, illustrations etc? Maybe it's a question of familiarity, but an article from the Association for Psychological Science explores what seems to be the biggest problem with Spritz - the inability to backtrack.

The results, reported in an article to appear in the journal Psychological Science, clearly demonstrate the importance of eye movement control to understanding. When readers are kept from going back to re-read words—with the trailing mask in this study, and more generally with the RSVP technique—they have poorer comprehension of the material. Notably, this is true for both difficult and simple sentences. These findings provide powerful evidence that that reading without the ability to re-read parts of the text, when necessary, diminishes understanding.


Scrobs... said...

Absolutely fascinating!

I take reading very slowly, so it means I read several paragraphs twice or even three times, if the author is a good one.

I think I'd have to re-read someone like J.P.Donleavy's pages about eighteen times to understand them, but it would certainly be worth it!

As an aside, I was taught a version of speed-writing some years ago, where one jots down only key words from a speech or conversation. It's an untidy process, but actually does work, and I can recall chats on the phone quite well - if I really want to bother...!

Interesting subject!

Mac said...

Reading speed?
For information; relatively quickly, but not so fast that I can’t filter out the ‘unnecessary noise’.
For enjoyment; slowly, so as to savour the moment.
This just has to end with an old chestnut;
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres of a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervy lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - I tend to scan things if I'm not gripped by the writing, but as you say, good writing has to be savoured.

Mac - quite rihgt - itz amzng how esy it is to rd exmpls lik ths.