Saturday, March 1, 2014

Spritzing is not reading

These guys: are in the news. They claim to have reinvented reading, they even call it "spritzing" in an attempt to go viral on the net, and claim that you can do it at the whopping 250, no, even 500 words per minute!

Problem is, this is a STEP BACK. I, like many people, already read 600+ wpm without their tech, and skim at 1200+ if I don't need full comprehension. I stop comprehending at maybe 1600, but I still get enough glimpse of the text to know if I want to read it attentively.

I know that there are a lot of people who read slower than the speed this app offers. But what the app does is not reading. They flash the text one word or syllable at a time at predefined speed and claim this increases reading speed because you do not have to move your eyes along the lines.

Why is that a problem? Well, they might as well say it increases reading speed because you do not have to move your lips as you spell out every word.

You see, speed reading is exactly about the level of comprehension of written word where you do not have to follow the lines. You just look at the paragraphs and move the eyes only a little side to side, to register the full width of the text if it is too wide, or nearly not at all if it is, say, a newspaper column. As your reading skill grows, you stop focusing on letters, then on syllables, then on words, taking them in whole. Then you begin to take in whole phrases in an instant. Then you begin to be able to glance a few times around a whole paragraph and see its meaning without effort, reconstructing the whole from fragments even out of order.

As an example, I cannot look at a piece of text in English or Russian anymore without comprehending its meaning automatically. It's like not being able to hear a clearly said phrase without knowing its meaning. (I am near-dyslectic in Hebrew, but that is a different writing system.) If you learn "speedreading" the Spritz way, you will never go to that level because you are never shown the whole phrase, you are fed syllables through a straw. And you cannot go back and re-read; reading becomes a linear experience like an audiobook.

They might as well claim to increase your moving speed by teaching you to crawl really fast, instead of letting you run.

Did people lose reading skills so much that this throwback to syllabic reading is what we have come to?

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