Mark Bao

Notes on speed reading

Tested speed — 500–600 wpm

Optimal speed reading speed — 760–780 wpm using RSVP (rapid serial visual presentation) with 3 word chunks. Multiple words are key for context; 1 word at a time dramatically decreases comprehension.

Best tools — Velocity for RSVP; multi-word support is key. / Outread uses an interesting meta-guiding technique, but it still requires eye movements and page repositioning; could be interesting if it had ‘typewriter scrolling’ and there was a faster animation. / Spritz/OpenSpritz is okay—I like the delay based on word complexity and pauses like commas—but one word at a time is a limitation.

Best case scenario — There should be an ‘anchored’ technique that still uses the multi-word chunking that Velocity’s RSVP uses, but combined with the anchor plus the variable reading rate. Fast rewinds based on sentences, visual guides on where you are in the reading and being able to change it (like Outread does).

Things learned

  • I already read pretty fast when it comes to easy reading.
  • Removing subvocalization makes us read faster, but it also could lead to lower comprehension of difficult material.
  • Comprehension generally goes down past a certain threshold; you can feel the text running away from you.
  • I see a 25–40% increase in reading speed with some comprehension deterioration.
  • Focus and discipline while reading increases since it is an active, difficult-to-pause process.

Future plans — Keep reading articles in Velocity, Outread, and OpenSpritz; continue testing reading speed and try to push the limits a bit. Try to increase comprehension rate.

tour de force

|ˈto͝or də ˈfôrs| — n. an impressive performance or achievement that has been accomplished or managed with great skill: his novel is a tour de force.

Flying the world's fastest plane: Behind the stick of the SR-71

One hell of a great interview.

Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland sits next to empty chair during the ceremony to honour prize winner Liu Xiaobo in 2010.