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posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:06AM   Printer-friendly
from the I'm-sorry-I'll-read-that-again dept.

bluefoxicy writes

"Speed reading has matured into technological solutions. Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, or RSVP, provides faster reading than the manual finger-following method, with retention on par with standard reading at 250 words per minute. Research shows most people can start at 400WPM, and reach 800WPM in an hour; and further advancements used in products such as Spritz and Sprint Reader claim 1000-1800 words per minute when practiced by offsetting and context pausing.

Thus far I have not found any software to read ebooks with these methods. Are there any open source applications, Nook or Kindle Fire applications, or otherwise to read ePub or Mobi or Kindle books via RSVP?"

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by FrogBlast on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:16AM

    by FrogBlast (21) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:16AM (#14406)

    Back in the stone ages, before iPhones, I ran an RSVP speed reading app on a feature phone with a 128x96 (or similar) screen, because I desperately wanted to read The Assassin's Apprentice without having adding to my packload. It was J2ME, obviously, and books had to be pre-converted to the format it wanted. The major downside is that when you do miss something, scrubbing back and actually finding the right spot is incredibly difficult. Whether it was the technique, or just the novelty, I think it actually helped me focus, though. I still try it sometimes for breezy fiction, but not for anything I need to study carefully.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:09PM

      by VLM (445) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @12:09PM (#14591)

      "breezy fiction"

      How does that work emotionally?

      For example, consider the first lord of the rings book. Slow psychological burn, becomes a scary creepy thriller as they're pursued, and that's part of the charm of the book. I took about a week to read it. Now if I could speed read, and down that book in an hour, it would change the aspects of the book that are a dramatic thriller into something more like a surprise party. I would imagine romance novels turn into one-night-stand novels if you speed read them in 45 minutes.

      This also fits the aspects of the weird. Some of the classics I read for my education (Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch, the usual ...) are familiar enough yet weird enough to be incredibly appealing, and I think you miss the educational aspects of thinking about life since they were written, if you race thru as fast as possible. Is the Anabasis supposed to be a slow psychological thriller or a two hour action flick? I think the former, but...

      Another problem, "the old man and the sea". Or perhaps some Joyce, how about "Ulysses". The whole point is to slowly savor the deliciousness, the savory (unsavory?) flavors of the work. The glow of the descriptiveness. If I could make the old man and the sea take ten times as long, while still remaining a good book, I'd do it in an instant. Its like going to a museum or art gallery or zoo with little children, where their goal seems to be to glance at everything for as little time as possible, whereas I could stand at each exhibit for five minutes, maybe an hour for the cool exhibits. Another analogy is food. Ground up snouts and entrails and rotten potatoes boiled in rancid old oil and a gulp of corn syrup, like fast food, I totally agree, get that over with ASAP. But a decent steak dinner with all the trimmings, I'd like that to take a nice leisurely hour from stuffed mushroom appetizer, past the fresh ceasar salad to the steak fries and a nice filet mignon and ending with the small glass of sweet cherry wine at the end. Yeah gulp down that BSE burger but savor every bite of something good.

      Finally given something really complicated, I'm thinking of my old diffeqs textbook, or Strang's linear algebra textbook, I can read the words a heck of a lot faster than I can internalize the knowledge. Sure I can read the word "eigenvalue" really fast but that doesn't matter if my cognition is the limiting reagent. You could say that I've spent most of my life fooling around with Maxwell's equations, fundamentally anyway, and reading them really quickly isn't much help.

      So... whats the point of speed reading?

      • (Score: 1) by TK on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:06PM

        by TK (2760) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:06PM (#14770)

        Speed reading is about crossing "to read" books off your checklist.

        When you read The Brothers Karamazov in an hour it's about a drunken idolator who gets murdered by his son. But the story wasn't the point of the novel, the characters are.

        --
        The fleas have smaller fleas, upon their backs to bite them, and those fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum
      • (Score: 1) by FrogBlast on Wednesday March 12 2014, @04:12AM

        by FrogBlast (21) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @04:12AM (#15017)

        To be honest, speed wasn't the goal for me. The goal was to read the book from my phone, and as you can imagine, 128x96 doesn't create information-dense pages. So, rather than tap the right-arrow tens of thousands of times to flip through miniscule pages of hard-to-read text, I thought I'd let the phone do the flipping, and make the words relatively large and legible. I was glad to see there was an existing program to do it for me, but I suppose I didn't really use it as intended.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Boxzy on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:17AM

    by Boxzy (742) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @01:17AM (#14407) Journal

    Just don't. Speed reading cannot be 'taught' beyond a certain level in that way, it is a matter of visual brain function and you will simply forget what you have skimmed VERY quickly.

    --
    Go green, Go Soylent.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:08AM

      by frojack (1554) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:08AM (#14422) Journal

      Do you have some evidence to support this opinion?

      Your "beyond a certain level" leaves a lot of room for you to be right (since you are imprecise in the definition of failure), but that still a lot of room for improvement.
      Even if all we need to do is break bad habits, some tools might be very helpful, just to get up to the speed we are naturally capable of.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by efitton on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:35AM

        by efitton (1077) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:35AM (#14435) Homepage

        Not the best article, although not a bad read: http://www.slate.com/articles/briefing/articles/20 00/02/the_1000word_dash.html [slate.com]

        Although I would be curious to try it on a phone. Anything larger and I already read about 600 wpm so not a lot of speed incentive. I can't find the article I read earlier stating that the research goes back to the 60s and that there are real limits to RSVP.

        • (Score: 1) by SurvivorZ on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:21AM

          by SurvivorZ (792) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:21AM (#14452)

          I must be completely abnormal then, because I have trained myself to read ~450 words/minute leisurely and 600-700 wpm when fully trying.

          • (Score: 2, Informative) by baldrick on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:50AM

            by baldrick (352) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:50AM (#14502)

            another article - http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/ is-speed-reading-possible/284326/ [theatlantic.com]

            just another gimmick - if you want to read faster and understand what you are reading ,you need to read more - that hard work / practice thing

            there is no shortcut you can buy for $1.99

            --
            ... I obey the Laws of Physics ...
            • (Score: 1) by efitton on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:08PM

              by efitton (1077) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:08PM (#14648) Homepage

              That was the article I was looking for. Still think it might be nice to have it running while running on a treadmill; phone at the Dr's Office, etc.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:53AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:53AM (#14546)

            I like you. You're a funny man

      • (Score: 2) by Boxzy on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:16PM

        by Boxzy (742) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @08:16PM (#14817) Journal

        I think it's fairly obvious, evidence be damned. Failure was not one of the options, you clearly have not had to help others finish their thesis after massively ill-advised speed-reading experiments. Nor have you actually tested this yourself by reading a book speedily and a week later ask another to ask questions about it. While there are those who have an excellent visual cortex able to ingest data at impressive speeds, they are very few and far between. Do some tests yourself, be scientific. Google doesn't know everything.

        --
        Go green, Go Soylent.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by wjwlsn on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:10AM

      by wjwlsn (171) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:10AM (#14424) Homepage Journal

      I just downloaded Sprint Reader (the second item listed in the summary) and gave it a try using a few articles on Wikipedia. While I found the experience interesting; individual words flashed by very quickly, and I could recognize and parse each one mentally, but before I could put anything together conceptually, the next word had already come and gone. Maybe, with a lot of practice, you could make this work for you, but I really wonder if it is defeating some of the basic, necessary techniques that your brain uses to understand and retain written concepts. Sometimes, I think, sentences don't really make sense unless you can see multi-word chunks at once; the words within a chunk reinforce each other with context that conveys the whole message, something you may miss if you're reading one word at a time.

      Alternatively, you could possibly use this as a fast pre-reading to establish a mindset and to trigger associations that might make a second, normal reading more efficient and meaningful... and/or use it as a fast review of text that you have already read.

      It is a very interesting idea, though. I plan to keep using it and see if it can be helpful... if not for rapid input, then for enhanced comprehension when combined with a second (or third) reading.

      --
      I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:51PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:51PM (#14738)

        It does take practice. Back in the 90's I used a program to do this with giant text on the PC. IIRC I was up to 1200 WPM before the next jump became too much for me to adapt to (given a 60Hz monitor your WPM options are limited to 3600/integer, so the speed increases *very* quickly at the high end: 900 -> 1200 -> 1800 -> 3600). Modern software often is a bit more adaptive, flashing short words more quickly than long words for example, but still run into the same basic problem - there's no way to display a word for a fraction of a frame.

        At any rate I reached the point where I would read a word, integrate it into the sentence, and reflect on it a bit while tediously waiting for the next word to appear. The combination of tedium from the inability to bump the speed up further without jumping to ludicrous speed, along with the inability to vary pacing or easily flick back to re-read a phrase/sentence that didn't parse right eventually caused me to give it up, but it was fun for a while. I could whiz through a novel or technical document in a fraction of the normal time, but the experience was considerably less satisfying. Also, I hadn't yet discovered Project Gutenberg (in fact I'm not sure it even existed at the time)

        • (Score: 2) by wjwlsn on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:40PM

          by wjwlsn (171) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @07:40PM (#14803) Homepage Journal

          I think I need to adjust the Sprint Reader options considerably. It is adaptive, as you mentioned, so shorter words are flashed faster than longer words, but I find the amount of variation to be distracting. It does seem to be fairly configurable though, so I might be able to tweak that specific issue.

          I got up to about 900 WPM pretty easily, but I think I may have scaled up the speed too soon. At 300 WPM, it seems like the delay between new words is interminably slow, yet comprehension is easier. When you get to a level at which words flash by at a pace that seems reasonable, however, comprehension seems to suffer. I will probably go back to 600 WPM for a while and see if that improves things.

          --
          I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:10AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:10AM (#14425) Journal

      Over a certain limit, even comprehension is impaired.
      For instance: is this post about speed reading or spreading?

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:04AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:04AM (#14419)
    Why are you limiting yourself to just speed reading?

    Why not also practice the arts of speed talking, speed walking, speed eating, speed sex, speed injecting, and speed lifetime?
    You are missing out on so much.

    Seriously... go faster, it's all that counts (and we won't miss you much at all).

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Hell_Rok on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:12AM

      by Hell_Rok (2527) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:12AM (#14426) Homepage

      IANASR (I am not a speed reader) nor do I really intend to become one.

      BUT, I don't see why you think this is a worthless skill. If it has the same data retention why not use it for reading emails, meeting minutes, and other stuff that's not very interesting.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by d(++)b on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:58AM

        by d(++)b (2755) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @02:58AM (#14442)

        IAASRWRTSRAIARRBSACWRFPE...

        What makes you say those other listed "skills" are "worthless"? In fact, advised by both you and the AC, I 'speed-read" your comment while "speed-eating" a "speed-heated" microwave burrito.

        (I am a speed reader who refuses to speed read and I also refuse random bullshit acronym creation which requires further parenthetical explanation.)

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by EvilJim on Tuesday March 11 2014, @04:22AM

    by EvilJim (2501) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @04:22AM (#14480) Journal

    most people have poor comprehension to start with, add in 1000 words per minute and you get a drooling idiot who writes offtopic comments without RTFA'ing... did I just describe myself?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by AnythingGoes on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:30AM

    by AnythingGoes (3345) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @05:30AM (#14492)
    The current e-ink readers have very slow screen refresh rates - they just can't change words at high enough speeds. The LCD screen based units will be ok though, just needs someone to change the reader rendering application. Having said the technical stuff - can you really remember what you have read at such high speeds?
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Rivenaleem on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:29AM

    by Rivenaleem (3400) on Tuesday March 11 2014, @10:29AM (#14569)
    I was talking about this very topic with a friend just over a week ago, and he directed me to this article about doing certain tasks while counting in your head.

    http://calteches.library.caltech.edu/607/2/Feynman .pdf

    Now you've read that ...

    My Friend and I have very different styles of reading. I tend to sound out the words in my head as I read them, and this slows me down, while he reads without sounding out words and thus reads really fast. I'm told that if I were to, say, chew gum, I'd be able to read faster, as my brain doesn't sound out words while it's having my mouth do some other task.

    I tested some spritz and it worked really well, when it go fast enough, my brain stopped trying to sound out the words.

    While my friend reads faster, he has serious trouble sometimes pronouncing words (particularly made up ones from fantasy books or games, eg. Gnomeregan in WoW becomes gomerang when he says it) He also has trouble, he says, remembering the lyrics of songs unless he actually reads them.
    I listen regularly to audio books using Ivona + a TTS engine (MoonReader Pro) at the highest speed setting, and i tear through books while out walking/cycling or on public transport.

    So like in the essay above, we figure that he processes words visually, while I process them audibly. Each has advantages and disadvantages we find.