Buying into Speed Reading

Melissa RosmanStaff Writer

As we know in 2014, life moves fast. People are constantly rushing from one place to another, leaving little time for distraction. Even if that distraction is something as integral in life as reading or writing. Arguably two of the most important aspects of a culture, reading and writing are bringing people to become impatient. With the increase in upbeat and fast-paced lifestyles, do people really have time to sit down and read an article or a book? Similarly, do people have time to actually write something? In the usual style of millennials, we’ve come to find a solution to this problem: speed-reading and speed-writing.
Speed-reading follows the rapid serial visual presentation, or RSVP method of viewing words. Simply meaning, the words are displayed one (or few) at a time and quickly switched to the next word to eliminate distractions of reading left to right. According to, when words appear one at a time you are able to read them quicker because you aren’t focusing your ability on following any order, or to find your place. Spritz, like many apps currently available is a training app to increase your speed while reading. It follows the RSVP method of revealing one word at a time at rapid pace. They claim anyone capable of reading, and who possesses a smart-device, can use this app.
Throughout history, speed-reading has fascinated people. According to The New York Times, the enthrallment began in 1934 at Stanford University while testing the movement of eyes as they read phrases vs. words. Since, Americans have been trying to figure out the best way to read. According to an article on, an interviewee said that speed-reading “has completely transformed the way I read. Prior to using it, I would almost always lose focus during long articles.” Much like any new innovation, there are always detractors. When interviewed by NBC regarding speed-reading, psychology professor Keith Rayner said, “Put simply, comprehension takes time.” When viewing the larger picture, there seems to be both pros and cons to this method. Also, research may lead to findings which suggest that RSVP works for some, but not for all, judging by the idea that there isn’t one specific way to learn.
Although speed-reading may prove to be useful, believes that “maybe we’ve got it wrong. Maybe it’s not about reading faster. But writing faster.” This would mean that for speed-readers, speed-writers would have to come into existence—and they are. NPR suggests that we should “Make writers do heavy lifting. Decide important things. Write those.” Therefore eliminating “fluff” or “filler” words and phrases from any form of publication. Commentators on the article previously published have joked that maybe everything published should be “writ[ten] in haikus.”
Although stated in a joking manner, this commenter brings up a good point. If we’re considering moving towards a world of speed-writing would that mean every article, and book would be Twitter-esque and be briefed to 140 characters or less?
Or would authors just choose to put one word on a page? (That wouldn’t go over too well with the Green movement).
As authors, publishers, writers, artists, readers, people, we need to ask ourselves: are we creating a world of complacency and unintelligence and hindering the minds of future generations by sheltering them from long works of reading or writing? Or are we creating a world that is conveniently matched to our societal views of daily pace? One may just have to find out for themselves.

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