The Guardian has an odd story on 23 March. I suppose being able to read 600 words a minute, rather than the average 250 (which still sounds like quite a lot to me) might be a good thing for certain kinds of reading. I am super-quick when it comes to reading those on-line software license terms we so often have to agree to. I tend to look at them and scroll though so fast that I see virtually nothing before claiming to have read and agreed to them. Not sure why I think that’s better than just agreeing without ever looking. Otherwise I think I am rather a slow reader, and I’m not sure I’ve got any problem with that. So I suppose I’d agree when the piece says “Like so many technological fixes, Spritz and the like seem to be answering a question nobody asked.” The Digital Reader post shows a simulation of the app in operation It also appears on the Spritz home page (where it works better): actually I find it less infuriating that I would have expected.

ReadWrite has a piece featuring four different apps to help you speed through those lengthy tomes.

Blinkist has a different approach: rather than getting you to read faster, they will boil the book down for you. Same result: you’ve “read” Freakonomics in just fifteen minutes. “Solve your reading problem” they declare on their home page — I didn’t know I had one till then! They do offer a free trial.

The Wiki cops have a note at the top of the Wikipedia entry on Speed reading criticizing it for containing “weasel words” — apparently these are “words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated.” Unweaselly words tell us that “the world champion is Anne Jones with 4,700 words per minute with 67% comprehension”. If only she could get that to 3149 words a minute with 100% comprehension — but I expect it doesn’t work like that.

Why all this interest in reading faster? — well I suppose there really are too many books out there for any normal human to read in one lifetime. But I can’t see that flashing through Middlemarch is quite the same thing are reading it “properly”. It just so happens that Middlemarch is the book club selection for 1Book140 (The Atlantic‘s Twitter book club) this month, as it was for Leonard Lopate’s book club last month. 1Book140 is only asking us to read the first 20 chapters during April, though I have no intention of stopping at that point (which is an odd place to pause anyway). I suppose if we were all able to speed read we’d be tasked with the whole book.

Later: Slashdot tells us that speed reading apps don’t work anyway.

Later: Len Edgerly at the Kindle Chronicles did an interview with Sprtiz’s founders Maik Maurer and Frank Waldman on 10 October. At about 9 minutes in he gives instructions on how to get the Spritz experience onto your iOS device. Download the app ReadMe! (for $1.99) then open an ePub file in ReadMe!. The page will look like a normal page: tap on the page to bring up a circle then tap on the crosshairs in the circle and that’ll launch Spritz. You can adjust speed, go back and repeat, etc. fairly simply.

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