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?

Keyboard vs. Longhand: How do you Write?

I recently read this post on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog from the New Hampshire Writer’s Network. The  post was part of the Friday Fun series where each week, they pose and answer a different question. This week, they posed a question about writing with a keyboard versus writing longhand.

QUESTION: Early adopter or luddite? A shiny laptop and the latest writing software, or crisp paper and a fine pen? Which do you prefer? Why? If you use both, what drives your choice?

This inspired me to think about my own writing habits.

While I love the feeling of pen-in-hand, I find more and more I use the computer (or my iPhone) for note-taking and writing.

NotebookI still carry a notebook with me and always make sure to have good pen (or three) on hand at all times. In fact, I have notebooks everywhere; a fun-sized notebook for my purse, a notepad in my glove compartment. You’ll find notebooks in my desk drawers, my nightstand, the end table beside my couch. I have them in a variety of styles, spiral bound, Steno pads, and composition notebooks.

I am known for writing things down on post-its and scraps of paper, then losing said scraps of paper. So I’ve taken to using my phone to record my shipping lists. I used to be an avid journal keeper and always wrote in journals by hand. Despite my tendency toward typing in recent years, I love to write notes in beautiful cursive and fear that good handwriting is become a lost art form.

For my freelance writing work, I have always taken notes longhand on a notepad during interviews, but have recently come around to bringing my laptop for note taking. I can type so much faster than I write, that it’s easier to keep up and much better for accurately recording direct quotes.

I do most of my creative writing on my laptop in Microsoft Word. I don’t have much experience with writing software, however, this past November I tried yWriter for NaNoWriMo and enjoyed it. I have also taken to writing notes or starting drafts using my Gmail, composing an email then saving it as a draft to come back to later. As silly as this seems, I can easily access my Gmail from anywhere.

How do you write? How has technology changed the way you write?