I came across an article this week called How To Read A 223-Page Novel In Just 77 Minutes. Of course it got my attention and my initial thought was ‘Yes, bring it on!’
But will this technology have an impact on our enjoyment of reading?
Spritz is new software that flashes words in a single non-moving box so your eyes don’t need to move from left to right to see the next word. It has potential to allow us to read whole novels on a screen the size of a watch-face. The company claims that we waste too much time moving our eyes across the page and by taking away this need we can double, triple or even quadruple our reading speed.
My mind instantly thinks of two scenarios: 1. When my boss at work says ‘I only have 30 seconds to read each report, make them brief!’ and 2. The long list of classic novels I’m always planning to get to but never find the time. Spritz will improve both of these situations, right? Well, I’m not too sure.
When the boss says ‘make it brief’
In business, being able to read faster should make everything more efficient. We’ll produce more in less time! We can work fewer hours! Brilliant!
Back to the example where my boss says he only has 30 seconds to read each report. With Spritz, he can now read my report in just 15 seconds or less… OR he can read my poorly-written report and still take only 30 seconds, without having to tell me to ‘make it brief’.
Yes, I’m thinking of Parkinson’s Law, where workers expand or compress the work they have to do in the time they have been allocated.
Will Spritz really save us time in a business sense? Or will it just give us more time to waste?
Now I’ll be able to read all those classics!
Here’s where Spritz has yet to prove itself. Reading a book for enjoyment is just that: enjoyment. It’s not a job; it shouldn’t feel like work that needs to be done quickly.
A good book draws me in. I swirl the words around in my mind, sometimes reading particular sentences twice or three times over to savour the moment. I often find myself pausing at the end of a paragraph to take it all in. I think about the characters, picture them in their world, before I move onto the next paragraph. It might only be a few seconds, sometimes a minute or two, but these moments of peace happen.
But they won’t happen with Spritz. Spritz is all about racing through the words. Getting to ‘The End’ in record speed. It’s about the destination, not the journey.
Rather than living and breathing the worlds of characters, it’ll be more like glancing at a photograph just to have it wisked away.
Spritz will certainly help get me through that pile of classic novels, but will I really be doing them justice?
Tell me what you think…
Have a go of the Sprtiz software by checking out this article. There’s a couple of examples where you can test your ability to read at 250, 350 and 500 words per minute. Then let me know:
Would reading faster help to improve your life?