A Quiry Into Speed Reading Leads to “Associative Trails”

I will be engaging in the new online course titled Living the Dreams: Digital Investigation and Unfettered Minds. This course is informed by the work of Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, and Adele Goldberg. Engelbart’s term “thought vectors in concept space” as a guiding concept in the living and learning that will take place in the space. The syllabus states that it will be a reading intensive course. In addition, it will be an interaction intensive course.

In preparing to deal with what I anticipate will be for me, information overload, I began thinking about tools and processes to help. In my quest, I have come across a new tool called Spritzlet. This is a plug-in interface to a web browser that will read any page that is presented on the screen. It presents the words one word at a time and the timing can be moved from 100 to 450 words a minute or up to 800  words a minute with a subscription. I exchanged some conversation with Gardner Campbell about this last week and we both found that at 240 words per minute, we felt that we were actually having an auditory response. That is to say, we felt like we were hearing the words rather than reading.

The tool itself is interesting to me, as it provides one way to plow through a large amount of reading. But, the observation that Gardner and I shared has introduced a new question in regard to auditory response to text.  When I told my wife about the perceived auditory response, she said that she did not have the same response and suggested that perhaps only musicians experience rapidly delivered text in this way. What an interesting thought and an interesting thought vector to follow. What work research has been done regarding this phenomenon? This leading me to investigate further and discover what Vannevar Bush called “associative trails” in my learning.

I have created a screencast of the blog post entitled Making Magic Magical, by Ryan Kales in section 005 to demonstrate how this works.




2 thoughts on “A Quiry Into Speed Reading Leads to “Associative Trails””

  1. Interesting technology but I found it a bit frustrating. I really wanted to click on the text to see what it looked like. I think the issue may be that I don’t read one word at a time but rather scan text so found that I wanted to see (and read) full sentences. Plus, after years of plowing through long texts, I think I also do a fair bit of skimming for ideas and was annoyed at having to read every word. I did get the sensation you spoke of though, of hearing the text even though it wasn’t being read.

    1. Karen,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry I did not see that I had to approve. I’ve done that now and your comment should be visible to all. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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