Is reading faster a good thing?

Okay, so I was writing a blog post on the Comma when I came across something FAR more arresting.

I’ve just heard about this new speed-reading app called Spritz that enables you to read up to 1,000 words a minute. (The average adult reads at a rate of around 300). For those of you who haven’t tried it, here’s how it works.

Spritz gif courtesy of Android Police

Spritz gif courtesy of Android Police

By flashing up words one at a time on a digital display with one of the letters in each word shown in red, the reader’s eyes are focused on the optimal point of recognition – and meaning is taken in as quickly as possible.

The start-up says its text streaming technology removes the need for scrolling, swiping and pinching. But what about the need for pausing, pondering and processing?

I just tried it and I have to say, once you relax into it its pretty powerful stuff. Compressing material this way and stuffing it into our brains will hold much appeal for marketers I’m sure. (It does feel a bit brain-washy and it’s no coincidence that Spritz is German for injection). On the positive side it would definitely make light work of ploughing through your inbox of a morning.

Indeed – the need for such a device has clearly arisen from the sheer volume of surplus content we feel compelled to cram into our brains daily. (Did you know that information fatigue is now a medically recognised syndrome?)

But is this really, as the company tagline suggests, ‘Reading Reimagined’?

Well, to my mind it sacrifices experience for efficiency. It’s ‘reading to have read’. And experts claim that there’s just not enough time to consolidate meaning and memory. So how efficient can that really be?

Those who know me know I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to books. But even for those who’ve succumbed to the kindle’s charms, surely there’s no place for spritzing in the world of literature. (Unless , of course, you’re a student who’s left reading set texts ‘til the last minute).

In terms of reading for pleasure and enjoying the emotional experience, I don’t think anyone will be spritzing War and Peace in a day anytime soon.

More information faster? What do you think?