I'm testing Spreeder
, a browser extension for speed-reading online content. It's awesome
. You highlight some text, right-click and select Spreeder, and it plays the text one word (or two or three words) at a time, fast.
First I did a quick test of my speed when reading conventionally, and came out at about 290 words per minute. So I set Spreeder at 300. That felt really slow, so I tried 400, and finally settled at 500.
I tried it on some fic, a New Yorker political article, and a post on BikePortland. I'd say my comprehension of each was at least as good as it would have been reading conventionally. That's an instant 70% speed increase.
The average American never surpasses speech-speed in reading, about 200 words per minute. We subvocalize--read aloud in our heads. Spreeder helps force you past that limitation. Apparently most of us spend about 30% of our reading time "regressing"--re-reading and checking back. Obviously Spreeder eliminates that option altogether.
What's lost, of course, is rhythm and cadence and the other auditory qualities of text that, in speed reading, you're actively trying to get rid of. There are times when you want those, and that's when you'd put down the toys and techniques and go back to 200 words per minute.
A couple of really valuable aids for reading online material the conventional way:Beeline Reader
: colors the text progressively, making it easy to follow from line to line. A very good aid for focus. (Hat tip: ravurian
, a browser extension associated with Evernote, and Readability
, an independent browser extension. Both present text in the font, size, and page layout of your choice, without ads or distractions, thereby aiding both focus and