November 20, 2003

Interesting ...

A friend writes:

John
In reading Cryptonomicon I've experienced an interesting by-product that for me that is worth as much as the book itself. Here's the story.

When I saw an 1100 page book I said "no way." I've always been a slow reader. Then I started anyway because of your recommendation. After 3 weeks of reading a half hour or so at night I was up to 100 pages. Pitiful.

So, on a whim, I looked around the web for speed reading technology. I discovered Rocket Reader. It's reading software for kids. The first selection one must make in using it is to say if you are above or below 10 years old.
That aside, the technology is simple and sound. It's based on the fact that the eye moves in discreet jumps and sees only when it's still, between jumps. To read faster you need to take in more words when the eye is stationary. This is well known of course, but how to do it?

Rocket Reader uses a flash system in which word groups flicker on the computer screen for a 1/10 of a second and you have to respond by typing what you saw. Your progress (gold stars and bar charts) is based on your success rate. It begins with just two letter words and then moves up to groups of several words. I started with 10 min. sessions twice a day and within a week my reading speed doubled. After that progress slows down, but I think I am close to tripling.

Here's the really good part. You don't have to DO anything; or TRY to do anything. Just read normally and it's significantly faster. And it's only $60.00.

I've never tried this sort of thing because I'm lucky enough to be a naturally fast reader. What I wonder is, does the improved speed persist, or will it fade away after a while?

* My friend writes: I'm pretty sure we slow readers need to make Rocket Reader (or something comparable) a daily exercise. Otherwise we regress to normal. At least it's short (10 min.) and fun. And unlike pumping iron, say, the results are quick.

Posted by John Weidner at November 20, 2003 4:36 PM
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