The Old Reader Adds Speed Reading Tech from Spritz
The Old Reader announced on their blog on Thursday that they had added a new reading option. This news reader service has partnered with Spritz to enable their users to quickly read blog posts and news articles.
The new reading option requires a free Spritz account, and it is available to both The Old Reader’s free and paying users. Users will need to enable the option from the settings menu, and then open a post and press I. This will bring up a popup with either the Spritz window or a prompt to create a Spritz account.
It will look something like this in use:
So far as I know, this is the first widespread practical example of the tech (the static demo with Oyster notwithstanding). I had asked Spritz to point me at other apps or services that make use of Spritz’s tech and they were unable to do so.
As you may know, the Spritz tech is based on an old idea called rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP). It works by flashing a single word in front of you at a time, at speeds ranging from 250 wpm to 600 wpm. RSVP been around since the 1970s, and it has seen mixed results.
For example, it’s quite easy for readers to miss vital information, and studies have shown that a reader’s ability to retain and comprehend what they’re reading drops as their reading speed increases. In fact, new research is showing that backward glances (saccades) over already read text may be the key to comprehension:
All of this suggests that, although saccades may not make for the most efficient means of ingesting words, they’re often critical for the comprehension of sentences. And as the length and complexity of an article or book increases, the number of places where comprehension can go awry grows accordingly. "Removing eye movements from the reading process is precisely the fatal flaw in such speed-reading apps and the reason why they will not be useful for reading any text that is not extremely easy or short," the authors conclude.
That research is based on a study with only 40 test subjects, so I don’t know how much weight it should get.
But I do know I’m not planning to use Spritz again. I signed up for a The Old Reader account just to try Spritz, and after about a minute I decided I don’t like it. I’m too afraid to blink, look away, or fidget in fear of missing a key word.
That forced concentration just won’t work for me; even a moment’s distraction might make me lose my place.
But that’s just me; what do you think of it?