‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Speed-reading with Spritz

From spritzinc.com

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.


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