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Bringing Speed Reading To the Web

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the so-you-can-skip-reading-the-articles-that-much-quicker dept.

The Internet 47

vencs writes "With the latest cycle of speed reading fad catching on all over, there bloomed a rather neat technique called Spritzing (an online implementation of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation). Even before the company released its SDK, many clones popped up, offering bookmarklets that do the same task. It's a cool (though situational) tool for going through text articles quickly (400-600 wpm)."

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Gotta go fast (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46468609)

Speed reading seems like a solution in search of a problem to me.

Re:Gotta go fast (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 7 months ago | (#46468647)

Could you write that more quickly please?

Re:Gotta go fast (4, Funny)

hawguy (1600213) | about 7 months ago | (#46468683)

Speed reading seems like a solution in search of a problem to me.

Could you write that more quickly please?

Spd rdng sms lk a sltn n srch o' a prblm t' me.

Re:Gotta go fast (0)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 7 months ago | (#46469125)

Apparently you don't read much. Speed reading is well worth the time for anyone who likes, or has, to read a lot.

Re:Gotta go fast (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46469201)

Speedreading for the general web though, seems like a dumb idea. I'm not scanning the latest Economist for information related to my company, I don't want to be spoon fed at 450 words per minute, I want to stop and think, to re-read a complex section, to laugh and enjoy and so on.

Re:Gotta go fast (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 7 months ago | (#46472835)

I want to forcefully cram more and more uninteresting but useful-in-theory information to my brain until I lose my mind.

Re:Gotta go fast (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 7 months ago | (#46475075)

Speedreading for the general web though, seems like a dumb idea.

I frequently look for solutions to problems on the web... speed reading/skimming is handy for that -- is what I'm reading matching what I'm looking for? Is it worth slowing down here, or should I skim ahead, or jump to the next article...

Naturally short articles spread over 20 pages are the demons of this process, and information locked inside a video is satan himself.

I do find speed reading novels and fiction to be entirely counter productive though. Its like shoveling down a fine dinner.

Re:Gotta go fast (1)

seebs (15766) | about 7 months ago | (#46469817)

Problem: More material to read than time.
Solution: Read faster.

Sounds good to me.

Thank the stars. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46468659)

I'll just be happy if this trend towards low-information-density videos without transcription stops. It's such a colossal waste of everyone's time and bandwidth to have to watch a 45m video of two blowhards talking about something when I could get the same effect from 5 minutes of reading and looking at a couple of graphs or 20-second video demos.

Re:Thank the stars. (4, Insightful)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 7 months ago | (#46468889)

This. Forever this. Nothing is so frustrating as being a visual learner, and having to weed through videos where someone blathers on for 15 minutes to finally show you the 35 seconds of useful information. Also, to people who have 'intros' on their videos that are longer than the actual content after the intro: I hate you all.

What really ticks me off ... (1)

Dareth (47614) | about 7 months ago | (#46470047)

What really ticks me off is when the ads work but the damn main video is "broken and unavailable".

Re:What really ticks me off ... (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 7 months ago | (#46472589)

What ads are you talking about? adblock+clicktoflash work wonders. Havent seen ads for *ages* in youtube. Cant stand seeing youtube in the iPad for the same very reason I do not have there adblock. And when I do open some video that shows some ad in some other page, I close the browser right way. This is not a frigging TV with a semi-captive audience, if you want to serve an ad to me, you have got to be more creative, dont rob me a full 1-2 minutes, and be less intrusive.

Re:Thank the stars. (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 7 months ago | (#46470133)

This 1000 times. This sort of shit is the bane of my existence:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Who the fuck in their right mind wants a -video- for that?!

I guess it doesn't offend me that it -exists- but if I'm searching for some sort of problem I do *not* ever wish to find video results to technical problems.

I want a static page of text with a short description and:

Solution:
Tools -> Internet Options -> Programs Tab -> Make default
Done.

What kind of mouthbreather needs a freaking video for that?

I appreciate video where it makes sense... want to explain what parallaxing background are or explain the phases of the moon a couple minutes of video is great. Want to learn orgigami or yoga or knitting video all the way.

I think the only thing worse than the sort of crap video I linked above is this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

aaaraaagghh... my head asplode.

Re:Thank the stars. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 7 months ago | (#46470941)

Tools -> Internet Options -> Programs Tab -> Make default

Tools <next page>
Internet Options <next page>
Programs Tab <next page>
Make default <next page>

It does let you read faster... (1)

jez9999 (618189) | about 7 months ago | (#46468697)

... but you have to really concentrate or you'll lose the train of the sentence. Can't go back and read something over (well, nowhere near as easily). Not suited, then, to casual reading.

Re:It does let you read faster... (3, Interesting)

pregister (443318) | about 7 months ago | (#46468771)

If you're trying to speed up your casual reading, how casual is it really? I tried the little Spritz button / example thing on the spritz website and thought it was pretty cool. 450 wpm took a short time to get used to but was readable. The problems are with unfamiliar names. It seems like you'd have to train yourself to NOT slow down when coming across an unfamiliar word (for me it was company or city names, or names of people) or in that fraction of a second you're trying to process it you lose words.

Re:It does let you read faster... (1)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | about 7 months ago | (#46468899)

Agreed. I thought it worked pretty well. But it's too easy to copy. I am sure there is quite a bit of work to truly find the "ORP", but it seems to me that you can let your eyes go a bit fuzzy and just center the damn word in the box. Without that little feature, it's just splitting a string based on spaces, spitting out one array item at a time, then pause for x number of ms.

Re:It does let you read faster... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46469147)

1) Like you said, if it's casual reading, why bother?

2) If it's serious reading where you're learning new concepts and facts, then if you can actually assimilate the text at 600WPM then the content is not very information dense, essentially trash, and so you're still wasting your time no matter how fast you get through it.

Re:It does let you read faster... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46469671)

then the content is not very information dense, essentially trash

It means it is not very dense in terms of the information you are looking for, while it still may be dense in other information you are not interested in. And regardless of whatever reason it is information sparse, if that little information it does have is important and the only source, e.g. specs, legal documents, meeting minutes, then you it won't be time wasted.

Re:It does let you read faster... (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 7 months ago | (#46468865)

Sorry? I lost you at "concentrate".

Re:It does let you read faster... (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 7 months ago | (#46468901)

And at 600 wpm, blink, and you miss half a sentence. Not for contact lens wearers.

Re:It does let you read faster... (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#46469069)

but reality, seldom the whole sentence.

Re:It does let you read faster... (4, Insightful)

jon3k (691256) | about 7 months ago | (#46468949)

Just need to build a good interface. I'd like to see a "clutch" - a button I hold down to read and let go to stop. Then easy rewind/forward. Maybe a button that moves back to the last punctuation mark? I think SOME of the problems we could solve with good UI design.

Re:It does let you read faster... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46469931)

I had a go at solving the RSTP browser UI problem the other year: http://mbays.freeshell.org/flinks/ [freeshell.org] You can pause at any point and navigate the text, with the words around the current point being displayed while paused.

Re:It does let you read faster... (3, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 7 months ago | (#46469039)

I'd actually disagree. I think it'd be best-suited for casual reading.

I tried it out on the Wikipedia page linked in the summary and a few other pages, and found that at 500 wpm it quickly got confusing once it started hitting references, parentheticals, and other asides, since the flow would be broken up by the various brackets, parentheses, and content out of the main flow of the sentence. In contrast, it did great at that speed on the portions of the page that were typical prose, and I found I wasn't having to focus much at all to keep up at 500 wpm, despite having had no practice in using the method, nor any practice at other speed reading techniques.

So long as you're not reading something that's beyond your vocabulary, I'd expect it to work exceedingly well. That said, once it hit a word I wasn't expecting (typically a proper name I didn't recognize), I found that I was "jarred" for a split second, throwing me off. The parentheticals and other such text had a similar effect. But were I reading a novel, I'd expect this system to work rather well, and would love to see an implementation of it for eReaders on tablets. Plus, the actual Spritz thing had a feature to jump back a sentence if you missed something, which, taken altogether, would still be much faster than a typical reading pace.

Re:It does let you read faster... (2)

hazem (472289) | about 7 months ago | (#46469967)

Not suited, then, to casual reading.

It doesn't seem suited to serious reading either. When reading technical material, I need to read more than one word at a time, and when it gets challening, I go over sentences a couple times. I also often find things that mean I have scan back a paragraph or two to see if what I just read fits in with the previous material.

I guess for me, reading is not a linear activity. It's more of an exercise of finding and making connections throughout the text and with other texts. I just don't get that with reading one word followed by the next.

No thank you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46468705)

This thing is seizure inducing! I couldn't get past two sentences. There is something extremely unnatural about having your eyes totally fixated on just one spot in the screen while words flash by at hyperspeed.

Re:No thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46468749)

Don't fight it... just let it happen...

Great until ... (1, Insightful)

sottitron (923868) | about 7 months ago | (#46468727)

Great until you come along a long word or a word you don't know. Try 400 wpm when Tralfamadorian Brokinovski or Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis shows up.

Re:Great until ... (1)

pregister (443318) | about 7 months ago | (#46468861)

Yeah. I can't imagine it would be too tough to implement something where you could click the mouse or hit the spacebar when coming across something unfamiliar and stop the playback or mark the spot and, when the the playback is done, display the original text with the troublesome bits highlighted. Hell, could generate wiki or dictionary links for those words automagically, too.

Re:Great until ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46468911)

I had a similar issue though it was more with acronyms or initialisms where I really needed it to go slower as I had to work out what they meant.

Similar to the sibling comment by pregister, I think that if it was tweaked to slow down fractionally for larger words or acronyms, it may work far better.

Re:Great until ... (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 7 months ago | (#46468915)

Yeah, the foreign names just blew by without me comprehending a thing. (I was up to the 600wpm setting by the time I finished the website). The other downside is, at that rate, if you blink, you miss nearly half a dozen words, and that can make you lose context, and everything becomes a useless jumble for a few seconds.

Re:Great until ... (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 7 months ago | (#46469389)

It was intended for mobile: so maybe it should enable the camera and see if you blinked and slowdown or maybe 'scroll back' a bit.

Re:Great until ... (1, Insightful)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 7 months ago | (#46469139)

This is why it's better to learn how to speed read the old fashioned way. If I need to slow down for something, it's not a big deal.

Re:Great until ... (1)

bammmmm (3498549) | about 7 months ago | (#46469141)

the original spritz is a little smarter than most clones, sadly. But it didn't feel like they piped in the 10k most often used words or something yet. (they will make up like 97% of any text, so if you have 3% at a slower speed you loose little)

Where's my ritalin? (1)

klingers48 (968406) | about 7 months ago | (#46469003)

TL;DR.

Speed reading is wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46469081)

I often catch myself at reading too fast. Then I have to go back because I missed something. I do remember a time when I found it frustrating that I couldn't read as fast as process what I had read. But that was when I was five years old. Reading speed came quickly with practice. I don't think you need a special technique, except mindfulness. Don't skip through texts unless you're looking for something specific. Remember to pause and think.

Am I missing something? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46469123)

I don't get it. I viewed their Spritzs web site at 600wpm and it was still slower than just reading the text on the web site, without the added advantage that I could stop at any time and instantly step back to where I wanted. Are people really that slow at reading? Perhaps the real solution is for people to stop watching so much (crap) TV and read a few more goddam books now and again.

Try speed listening - it's more fun, IMO (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 7 months ago | (#46469513)

I listen at over 600 wpm, and my blind friend is over 1,000. I never enjoyed so many books before. Here's a link to my geek stuff page [waywardgeek.net] , one of which is my Sonic speedup program.

Not all words are processed by the brain in equal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46469535)

Words that are gendered or elicit emotional basis take a period of time longer for the brain to link to the previous word. Comprehension tests show that for some material this works, but for works of fiction or stories this technology needs tweaking. There are lists out there, but even those need to be weighed to the individual. Unless there is a setup to gauge comprehension from a known text that is tested, many will not get any benefit of long term memory storage.

Feature Request (2)

AdamThor (995520) | about 7 months ago | (#46469613)

Dictionary of white listed words 6th grade reading level (to be displayed at max speed, the rest at a settable sub-speed)
Long words broken up by syllable
Dead-man switch - hold down to keep reading release to pause and display Fwd and Rew

if this is so great... (1)

pieterbos (2218218) | about 7 months ago | (#46469953)

Then why do they still have so much text on their website that does not use their speed reading tool?

Takes longer... (2)

RJFerret (1279530) | about 7 months ago | (#46469973)

Takes longer to consume a page, since normally you don't read each and every word, you glance across a page picking up critical words to glean the meaning.

Running it on their webpage, I got bored waiting for it, meanwhile in less time previously, I'd digested the entire page.

That being said, I passed the link on to a dyslexic friend, we'll see how she feels, presuming she can successfully read my G+ post to her. ;-)

Re:Takes longer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46471159)

As is said, 90% of everything is crap. This applies within sentences as well.

Combine speed reading with speech synthesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46470005)

I've been using this speech synthesis program for speed reading for a while now: http://zabaware.com/reader/ It does the same thing where you keep your eyes focused in one place and words change but it also reads them outloud with speech synthesis. Its a bit strange at first to listen to speech that fast but I find that reading visually plus hearing it audibly helps focus attention while speed reading.

Useless (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 7 months ago | (#46470767)

While it is very fun, reading 700 wpm with it is rather reminiscent of a roller-coaster ride, it does have its areas of weakness.

Obviously, you cannot use it for reading complex, information filled articles. Even set at an extremely slow setting it simply would not work.
It would also be horrible for pleasure reading, novels, short stories, and the like.

It is a great tool for reading empty, information and emotion devoid, text though.

Retention? (1)

Mozai (3547) | about 7 months ago | (#46482957)

The Spritz website says "retention levels when spritzing are at least as good as with traditional reading" but I really want to see some independent testing to verify this claim.

If someone uses this to read a short story (~5,000 words, narrative fiction), how much detail do readers still have after one hour? or the next day? What about a technical document, like a whitepaper in the reader's interest, or an End-User License Agreement? If we tested this on psych students (as we usually do with test like this in university), an put a zinger in the EULA like "if you put your family name twice when signing the form to get a free drink," I'd like to know how many students would catch it.

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