Thursday, December 05, 2013

Five Reading Tools - part IV: Read Quick

Now for something quite different:

While I studied at TU Vienna (Computer Engineering) I took some lectures in Computer Linguistics offered by the Linguistics Department of the (regular, good old) University of Vienna.One of those lectures/courses was about Text Comprehension and Computers (this was 1990), and I was the proud presenter of the topic Reading on the Screen.

One of the methods I came across during preparation was Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP). It is about presenting one word (or very short phrase) at a time at a fixed location. This allows for reading rates of up to 700 words per minute [1].

Flash forward 22 years (ouch) and imagine the déjà vu I had, when I learned about ReadQuick. Because it is exactly an implementation of this.
ReadQuick is an iOS app, that uses Pocket, Readability or Instapaper as a back-end service to store/queue the articles and then presents them in RSVP style.

You can set the speed yourself (in words per minutes). I'm currently at 335 as you can see. You'll notice that over time your reading speed will increase - as advertised. I think I started around 220 or so.

One nice side effect is, since the article size (in words) and the speed is known, it can tell you how long in minutes this article is, or how much you have left.

It actually is a totally different reading experience. After a time you'll get rid of "reading" and just absorb the text as it flies by.

It's $4.99 in the app store, but totally worth it.

The longer or more narrative an article is, the rather I read it with ReadQuick. However, you do need a quieter environment then for the rest (at least I do), because once you get distracted, you cannot easily jump back one sentence or paragraph.

Also, and option to mark the article as read, once you are done with it, would be nice.

Unfortunately, this app is iOS only for the time being. An Android version is said to be in the works.

UPDATE here.

[1] Mills, C.B./Weldon, C.J.: Reading Text from Computer Screens. ACM Computing Surveys 19,4 (1987)... to be found here. Well at that time, I got it from TU Vienna Library back in the days.

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