The Future of Reading

Last week I came across an article about Spritz – no, this isn’t a new fizzy soda drink, it’s an app designed to improve reading speed and can help you read 600 words a minute.

Sounds insane, right? Here’s a quick glance at how it works.

Spritz streams text on your screen one word at a time, which, the company claims, allows your brain to comprehend it much more quickly and easily. The idea is to reduce the amount of time moving your eyes from one word to the next and reformatting it so that our eyes don’t move at all as we see the words. This way, we can process information instantaneously rather than spend time decoding each word.

spritz

Visit http://www.spritzinc.com/about/ and Click to Spritz to try it for yourself

I shared this article and it got a lot of reactions from my friends on social media. The responses were overwhelmingly positive. As a book lover, the idea of being able to read faster without losing comprehension is wonderful. Being able to read 500 words a minute, rather than the average reading speed of 220 words per minute, would certainly help me reach my reading goals.

But this got me thinking about what would happen to the overall reading experience – will reading become nothing more than watching words flash by on a screen?

This technique, while it has obvious advantages, is initially a bit unnerving. I am a voracious reader, a writer, a lover of words. The way I see it, words are not merely data to be digested as quickly as possible and downloaded into our brains. Language is art and art is to be enjoyed and appreciated.

What about the ability to linger over words and appreciate the language and word choice of the author? One of my favorite moments as a reader is coming across a sentence that is so striking, I need to go back and read it again to appreciate it. Would this speed-reading app allow for going to back to a review a sentence? Will technology like this take all the pleasure out of reading?

And what does this mean for us writers? We spend hours honing our words, poring over every sentence, deliberating over details like whether to use “an” or “the.” In our world, every word matters, each one must contribute something to our story. If reading becomes a way to simply process words and information as quickly as possible, will our craft become obsolete?

Between emails, web pages and other texts, we each read thousands of words every day. In this aspect, technology like this has a very practical application. I spend a lot of time in my work day reading and responding to emails. It would be a huge improvement to my productivity if I could decrease the time I spend reading emails in order to focus on everything else I must accomplish. And how about textbooks – imagine finishing your assigned reading in half the time?

Textbooks, emails and online articles – I would love to read these more quickly. I just don’t think I want this app infringing in my novel reading.

I need to time to imagine a scene as it is being set, to hear the character’s voices in the lines of dialogue. There’s no app for that.

Take a look at the article and try this technology for yourself:
Spritz speed-reading technology

What did you think of it? Do you think this app will change the future of reading as we know it?

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4 thoughts on “The Future of Reading

  1. Hmmmm. Speaking as a dreadfully slow reader, this sounds appealing at first. But you make a great argument for why it may not be ideal for novel reading. I have a Kindle that I use occasionally, but I’m old-fashioned. I love the feel of a book in my hands.

  2. I love the thought of this but at the same time I’d miss the visual patterns words make on the page. For some reason I get such a kick out of seeing the same word (or even better, same phrase) end up directly on top of each other. I also get a little thrill when I correctly guessing the next word before turning the page. There’s so much more to reading than processing the words. Reading is an art that is slowly being whittled away into something that we can still experience but not make our own. Unless the material was for school or work and there was a lot to get through, I don’t think I’d like my reading style to be dictated like this. I read the way I do because it provides me with maximum pleasure.

  3. To people it sounds appealing but to me it doesn’t.
    I followed a link my friend had shared to a “testing” page that shows you what it would be doing. I stared at it for not even 30 seconds before I could feel a pounding headache forming. Once I sensed that happening I clicked out of the page faster than a jackrabbit on speed.
    If this does come into market I wouldn’t be standing in line to buy one. I need my head without the electronic reading induced headaches. In all honesty I refuse to buy a kindle, tablet, or one of those fancy devices that keep thousands of books at the edge of your finger tips for the same reason. I’ll take a physical book, or ten, any day.

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