Sven Birkerts is really not going to like this.

Spritz is a new app that rapidly displays all the words of a book in a single space. Instead of reading through space (like turning the page of a book or scrolling), this new reading behaviour moves in time only. This app seeks to answer one of the questions that has been at the heart of this course. What do we do with a million books? It says we just need to read faster. From 250 to 1000 words per minute, it states that comprehension is retained and improved upon regular reading habits. Should we critique this for re-establishing the linear authority of the text? For considering that efficiency and speed are appropriate values for reading? If we can read faster, does that not just mean we will consume more, feeding an ever-increasing need for consumption? Would this actually help me with writing my comps, and if so, when does it come out?

This entry was posted in reading. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sven Birkerts is really not going to like this.

  1. emily.holmes says:

    This may be one of the most interesting apps I have yet to see! While I don’t necessarily think we should critique it for re-establishing the linear authority of the text, I think the neglectfulness of the importance of retention needs to be critiqued.

    As we have discussed in class, digital scholarship has changed the way that we read. This app seems to be doing the same thing, as it completely reshapes the way that we receive the information. But what about retention? I do not know enough about the app to make an entirely informed critique, but does it allow for the reader to choose speed/duration of the text as it goes by? As everyone comprehends the written word in a different way or on a different level, does this app take that into consideration?

    The traditional written word in print is tailored to the reader in that it never changes, allowing complete control of the reader over the text. This app seems to be reverses this relationship as it appears to dictate how the text is read. This would have a direct impact on the level of retention of the text, and isn’t the main purpose behind reading to retain the information read?

    • duttpuneet says:

      Emily, you raise an interesting question to Steve’s post regarding this new app Spritz, the question, “But what about retention?”

      To quote Tony Bradley’s article in PC World entitled “Spritz text streaming app increases reading speed,” “According to Spritz, 80 percent of the time you spend reading is devoted to physically moving your eyes from one word to the next in search of the ORP, while only 20 percent is spent actually processing the information. To speed things up, Spritz reformats the text and aligns it based on the ORP so there is essentially no physical eye movement, and almost all of your time is spent taking in data.”

      So it does let you choose the speed of the text, at the varying levels the reader can set. However, what I find problematic is for what purpose and the question of retention. Bradley writes “I wouldn’t necessarily want to read fiction using Spritz….For other texts, however, Spritz would be helpful. Imagine how much more productive you’d be if you could get through all your email in a fifth of the time it normally takes you.”

      But what other texts? Do we want manuals to be read this way? And if so, what we retain only half the information. What about work emails? Schoarly journals? Would this eliminate the need for a research assistant to sum up and review texts? Would we miss something? Or is it arguable that we are all prone to misreading and error on a regular basis as it is, and this app does not free us from error, but merely, assists in us getting through piles of text. What they’re promising is to essentially take the human element out of it, and turn the human eye into a computerized eye, another ghostly part, zipping through information. Now if they could also implant a processing chip in us to retain and remember this information, the world would be perfect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *