A.J. Feather

Journalist, Developer

I'm a Missouri native currently seeking a dual masters in computer science and journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Every week I also host an awesome podcast called "Integrate" with my friend Mikah, which you can find at Integrate.FM.

Before moving to New York, I obtained undergraduate degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In Columbia, I hosted a weekly show called "Talking Politics" for KBIA, the local NPR member station and produced, wrote and anchored video for Newsy.com way too early in the morning.

There has never been a political column I did not enjoy reading or an Apple product I did not enjoy using.

Speed Reading

Speed reading methods have been around for awhile, but they're always somewhat of a tedious process.  All the blog posts on it sounded the same.  “Read quick in half-an-hour or less.” or “Learn to read twice as fast in a day.” But for the vast majority of people, they wouldn’t work.

People get bored and tired.  Whether or not the calculation is rational, they decide it makes more sense to go back to reading normally than continue with the always troublesome task of silencing your inner-reading voice.  (If you’re not sure what is meant by that, realize that while you’re reading this you’re actually saying the words in your head.  That is, unless you're a master speed reader.)

Enter App Generation

The application development that we’ve seen over the last half-decade or so has been nothing short of a revolution, and reading wasn't to be left behind.

Spritz

The best demo of a speed-reading solution I’ve seen to date is Spritz.  Spritz allows you to view one word at a time, keeping the center of the word in line with the last word - exactly where your brain wants it to be.  By keeping works aligned, Spritz takes most of the ‘work’ out of reading, meaning you can process more of the information you want quicker.  (Less eye movement, more reading.)

Try it out: http://www.spritzinc.com

Outread

Another interesting demo in speed-reading is “Outread,” a speed-reading app specifically for iOS.  Outread’s a bit more practical than Spritz because it helps the user learn how to read a normal piece of paper or webpage.  To get benefits from it, you won’t have to load material into an application.  Right now it works with all three of the major “read later” applications - Pocket, Instapaper and Readability.

Outread highlights words for the reader to follow.  It helps the reader reduce subvocalization - having your mind say the words as you read - and gets the user to the sweet spot where they are able to comprehend everything without their mind ‘saying’ anything.  The application lets the user adjust the speed the highlighter moves, which allows users to go at their own pace.

Personal Experience

My personal experience is limited, but I have attempted speed reading before and always gave up.  I rarely read when I was younger, and to date I’ve never been so overloaded with material I needed to learn to speed read.  This week I downloaded Outread, and I’ve enjoyed using it.  It’s intuitive, helpful and actually sort of fun.  Spritz seems like an easy fix to slow reading I could have certainly used on the ACT.  But regardless of whether either of these apps changes the way we read, it seems eventually we’ll have the perfect method.