One word at a time, at up to 1000 words a minute. That’s 16.67 words per second.
Spritz, a Boston-based technology start-up, has developed a new app that presents text in a way that allows you to read at lightning speeds. Spritz has named their company after a gentle spray of water, though their product can feel more like a fire hose of words. The logic behind the technology is that we waste a lot of time moving our eyes from left to right. Precious time! Spritz solves for this by aligning each word on a central letter, shown in red. (You can test the app on their website using the “click to spritz” button in the upper right corner.) The new app even promises to get you through a novel in 90 minutes.
The question is: why would I want to turbo-read a good novel?
Presumably the answer is that I’ll have time to turbo-read more good novels. But what’s the value of reading more novels if I’m only flying through them on an exhausting sprint? It’s probably better to think of the time Spritz can save when you have to slog through something like, say, the 11,000 pages of regulations in the Affordable Care Act, or the Bible, neither of which I’m going to do, but if I did I’d want it to be done in record time and minimal pain.
For literature—really good literature—we may not all be in such a rush. We may, in fact, enjoy seeing words gathered together on the page, savoring whole phrases and sentences, slowing down to reread when our eyes pass over some remarkable composition, enjoying the rhythm and cadence of how we control the flow of reading on a page—that well-wasted time of eye movement—rather than sprinting through at bionic speeds just to cross the finish line.