I was recently exposed to a technology that is about to hit the scene: Spritz. A technology for rapid reading. Think like Matrix-info-download speeds… or so we would all like to imagine. Can it ultimately change our language?
The innovation with Spritz is that word recognition is centered on a ‘key’ letter. Once you see this letter in context to the other letters, you recognize the whole word. It is apparently a sibling of typoglycemia, which after being invented by internet trolls then later went on to grace the halls of academia. (like 4chan)
The h+ hack for speed-reading is accomplished by highlighting the key letter in red. A system replaces the word in front of you with the next word, keeping each word’s red letter in the same place during the sequential display. Demos are given for 250, 350, 500 words-per-minute, which is really a best way to understand the process. 500 wpm seemed all-to-easy, and 1000 is proposed. IMO, ‘train’ for 1-2 min on the slower modes to be sure your brain full-takes in 500+ It’s like breaking in a new engine on a car or bike,
I think this tech will improve our understanding of two key areas, which will be the inheritors of the h+ estate that Spritz develops:
- executive functioning
- semiotic efficiency
The classical issue was word recognition. This was a problem conjoined, and confused, by the process of word-finding in a typical paragraph. One should recall the 1900’s revelation of newsprint: that column width made a big difference on reading speed. Spritz’s technology then is the new newsprint. Expect it as the replacer for mobile reading formats, and part of every embedded display, from google glass to your microwave / etc. “This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds”…. the whole deal.
An executive functioning issue with classical reading is distractability. Fast thinkers develop their own train of thought while reading. This can be a stream of consciousness very different from the authors. Should we stay focused? This is a matter of poetics vs. instruction.
Can we think of two or more things at the same time? How far do we stretch our associative process when cognizing the meaning of words? How multi-dimension (dense) can that association be, before the author’s meaning is over-saturated, and we are in the zone of ‘being distracted’?
Is this really about Creativity vs. Focus? Must creativity be immersed, lest it is starved? Inspiration and serendipity can come at any moment, as history and literature attest. But are certain creative functions lost when reflecting? Perhaps this new way of reading will up the contrast on when to ‘read with immersive creativity,’ and when to ‘intake and reinvent/re-imagine.’
We should also consider if the speed of comprehension will be affected. The words move fast, but what if the reader doesn’t grok? We can suppose, at least, that they wasted less of their time before being able to get on to looking up the things they did not understand.
Will the Spritz process improve memory? If the technology forces us to be less distracted, then perhaps the original meaning of the author will be remembered for what it is, rather than in the soup of the creative melange. We may recall the practice of immediately following a learning session with noting / summarizing the details. A similar methodology may be necessary with ‘Spritz-intake’, requiring certain learners to practice what they just learned, or use another method to ‘seal in’ the information.
The secondary consideration is how this method with reshape our understanding of language, symbols, and the meaning we associate to them. From here I can only speculate – at least in the brevity of not seeking out references for all the long-tails. Some foreshortening of words pay yield the same semiotic value, but allow faster intake. The Chinese found this, in their reconstruction of the traditional writing into Mandarin.
Symbol-meaning associations are yet-cloudy, but we do have hints via the study of semasiography. Some in this pursuit have found suggestion that structural forms gain meaning in part through a mixture of embodied and/or vicarious experience of body movements (which match the language structure) and operational / behavior affordances that come with such movements.
In this space of thinking, it may be no great leap to imagine that words in the ‘Spritz-stream’ may be easily replaced by symbols that cognize more readily. Perhaps the phonetics of a word has more importance than its alphabetical / symbolic construction – and the phonetics are more-readily cognized through a different character / symbol.
Will Spritz technology lead to a new form of language?