The past few weeks I've seen the new Spritz app gaining more and more momentum. Basically, the app, which is debuting with Samsung, will allow you to take speed reading to a whole new level, eventually maxing out at 1,000 words per minute (basically the equivalent to a novel in less than 90 minutes). This is done by "remov[ing] the inconvenience of scrolling, swiping, squinting and pinching to read on your devices by streaming individual words, one by one, at the user's desired speed," according to the company. To try it, follow this link and click the "click to spritz" button in the upper right hand corner. The program will eventually allow for a variety of content, ranging from novels to email to other forms of media. They'll also be available on devices including watches.
Supposedly, they're saying it boosts comprehension, but I won't be convinced, at all, until I see more studies, including ones that involve some peer review.
My first response is of course disapproval and disgust. They're taking away the pleasure of reading! They're making it into a race! They're making the eyes lazy! It's a gimmick! It's a joke! It's a fad!
And I still do primarily feel this way. Are we really that rushed for time as a culture that we can't simply move our eyeballs anymore? Are we that desperate for efficiency we can't be bothered to turn a page (or click a button)? Must we streamline everything? What about the need to reread, annotate, and easily return to the text? Life already moves so fast the way it is.
I know this is a bit hypocritical- I strive for maximizing my time, multi-tasking often, making to-do lists, and searching for quicker ways to do things. But reading is sacred to me, a process so ingrained in my psyche that the idea of altering it is actually disturbing. I'm a sort of quick reader already, ranging from speeds of 400-600 words per minute, according to the tests I've taken (nerd alert). I have absolutely no desire at all to increase this though- there's a natural cadence that I fall into while reading, one that relaxes and almost soothes. Having words flash before my eyes at extreme speeds has quite the opposite effect.
In the interest of fairness, there are advantages. A friend on Facebook mentioned that this product could be used to get through less enjoyable readings, like technical manuals or textbooks, which I think is a valid point (although I still can't shake the issue of it not facilitating comprehension, sorry). When trying to get through pages and pages of my astronomy and chem texts in college I'm sure I would have been thankful for an opportunity to move a bit faster (but still... the comprehension...). But for pleasure? No thanks.
I don't want this app to succeed, I must admit. Speed up my commute, the amount of time it takes to dry a load of laundry, or the wait at the doctor's office. But reading? Let's leave it alone.