Is Faster Always Better in the Digital Future?

Faster Faster Faster!

It’s always better than slow, right? More economical, more efficient, more productive. Surely you don’t want to be labeled as SLOW–a term we associate with dull, stupid or lazy.

So don’t be a dull, stupid, lazy slow reader. Right?

Meh. There is a time and place for being a faster reader than I am, that’s for sure. And in some of the copyediting I was doing this time last year, a lot of that text was about improving memory, retention and reading speed. And I do read a little faster now, just from being made to think about my sluggish rescanning of phrase, lines or even paragraphs.

But do I–or do you–want to read at 1000 words a minute? With reading tools like SPRITZ, that seems like a possibility.

What I would be interested in knowing is how the comprehension and recall rate changes for every 100 word increase in speed, say, after a person has been “spritzing” text documents for a month or two.

At any rate, get ready. As devices get smaller and their view space gets tiny tiny, a single word will be the serving size. It will be coming fast, and faster, and faster still as our demands for rapid consumption increases. We will drink fast and faster from the firehose of information to come.

Let’s just hope we can swallow it all.

Give spritz a test. What is your current reading speed? Can you double it and enjoy what you read? Can you remember what you just saw zooming one word at a time though your brain like a machine gun of verbs and adjectives?



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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’ve also used zap reader on the desktop, hoping that making my eye-brain communication faster will speed up my reading habits a bit. Better, are similar on-line apps that let you choose how many words in a chunk you want zooming past. this is more like recommended “read phrases not words” that allow for increased speed without terrible hits to comprehension and memory.

  2. About 45 years ago, I was taught the speed reading technique of using your finger to guide your eye to skim read the page. I read “The Peter Principle”, and still remember it. As much as I do most any book from 45 years ago….

  3. I tried Spritz in those short lvideo oops at your links, and no motter how often I watched, I kept missing seeing a short word that came early in the sentence, so I couldn’t figure out the meaning of the sentence. I could read all the other other words, because with more letters, there were more clues as toi what word was flashing by. I don’t think Spritz is for me. I liked the article about expertise making a huge difference.