When I was 12 or so, my dad passed down a great gift on to me; he began teaching me speed-reading. And I will be forever grateful to him for it.
As a professional writer and a voracious reader, I ultimately have a love affair with the written word, but like true love, it’s a bit complicated. And a new technology from Spritz isn’t helping.
Spritz is a Boston based startup focused on text streaming technology, that states “the time consuming part of reading lies mainly in the actual eye movements from word to word and sentence to sentence.” But fortunately, they’ve figured out a shortcut:
According to Spritz, whose technology will be coming to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Gear 2 watch, “Fast streaming of text is easier and more comfortable for the reader, especially when reading areas become smaller, and fortunately for all of us, “Spritz’s patent-pending technology can also be integrated into photos, maps, videos, and websites for more effective communication.”
So how does this complicate things?
Well when my dad was teaching me speed-reading, he consistently reminded me that this wasn’t “real reading.”
Real reading didn’t understand time restrictions, it wasn’t something done in haste so that a to-do box could be checked. It was meant to be done deliberately and patiently. A good piece of writing should make you forget that your current environment — and its time schedules — exist entirely.
So while I still remember the over-caffeinated nights in college where this would be a God send, and having to read up on some of the more drier news bits of the day will now feel like I’m Neo learning kung-fu, I’m just a bit hesitant that this is going to be used for evil just as much as its going to be used for good.
The Huffington Post article that covered this led with the sentence, “Soon you could read all 309 pages of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ in under 77 minutes,” but why would you want to?
I know that in a world of bottomless Netflix queues and #FOMO, being able to consume everything more efficiently sounds great, but do we really want to “burn through” things like Harry Potter? Isn’t the whole point of reading for pleasure for it to be, you know, a pleasurable experience?
And I’m not saying I won’t be using this if/when it gets popular — having to keep up with the whole “everything going on in the world” is tough — but I just know what happens when our society is given a new, game-changing technology…
But if you want to see just how Spritz works, have fun over-loading your optic nerve by reading the three virtual text boxes below; just make sure to watch out for all nosebleeds and signs of seizure:
This is 250 words per minute:
This is 350 wpm:
And this is 500 wpm (it goes up to 1,000…):