The Foxy Armadillos
May 2018 by V. R. Duin


Roll, 'Dillos, roll.
Speed up our goal.
Slow takes a toll!

Speed reading delivers some advantages and meets some expectations for speed in the digital era, but with much sacrifice of reading comprehension for many reading applications.

Too many places to go, too many things to do and too little time may create an incentive to use speed reading to get through the information to be processed for work, school and participation in society. There is no time to waste on the reading comprehension of text that may not seem at first glance to be of immediate relevance. Most people careen through their days with few breaks, and no time to waste. This expectation for speed may extend to all visual materials and sounds that enter human space in the digital era, including books, audio books, videos and all forms of Web content.

Common reading applications, such as sifting through news headlines, social media posts or surfing the Web, may not require full reading comprehension. During brief snippets of available time, speed reading may help readers screen online and print content for any information of interest. Speed readers rarely linger or repeat texts to cement understanding. Speed readers often skip over what is not of interest to them. Speed reading may result in a drop in reading comprehension. Therefore, it may not be useful for complex reading applications that require study or deep introspection.

Technological advances have led to computerized speed reading applications, many of which are based on screen presentations that may not accelerate book reading. To the contrary, some people are extremely comfortable with the skimming of online content. These speed readers may become annoyed with the slower pace of reading applications that require study or full reading comprehension. To accommodate this speed reading style, writers and educators must be aware of the online formats used on the Web. Speed readers may be attracted by the introduction of the familiar formats of modern technology into printed materials.

Today's speed reading Web surfers may expect defined text areas for titles, headings, paragraphs and the use of different fonts, sizes, styles, borders and colors to highlight information of importance. Online content should be designed so people can cover greater material at greater speed without a total sacrifice of reading comprehension. Writers, educators and entrepreneurs must weigh all content against the trending advantages and expectations for tech speed in world communications. To do otherwise with any reading applications or materials may risk alienating prospective readers, clients or customers.

People are seeking ideas that leap at them, not ones that crawl mindlessly across space and time. Moore's “law” predicted that processor power would double every two years. This expectation for speed has held true for over 50 years. As a result, consumers have come to expect faster tech speed and greater automation of personal computers, cellphones and other tech-driven vehicles, appliances and devices. Change is now evolving into voice and virtual reality applications that interact with users in a myriad of new ways.

Speed reading seems to predominate in the digital age. Nobody likes reading applications that are tedious, slow or that try to push unwanted audio, video or digital programs into personal space. Few modern readers will pause to repeat the reading reading of convoluted texts. Reading comprehension may be cast aside for the sake of speed. Slow content of any nature may repel readers. Moreover, human reading activities are physically limited by eye movement and cognitive ability. Hence, devices driven by the spoken word are surging. Talking is faster than reading for many individuals, today.

Search engines are programmed to read and index content, quickly and fully. Unlike machines, human readers do not come programmed with all of the language skills and information needed for idealized speed reading. Speed reading may be accompanied with a drop in reading comprehension, because people are not machines. Readers should be pleased to learn the average reading speed provides a faster gain in knowledge than can be accomplished through hearing that same information. Therefore, reading may still matter to learning new information in the voice-driven age.

Reading Comprehension

  • Speed Reading Reading Rates says:

    Modern speed reading expectations may be frustrated when long and confusing content fails to maintain human attention, or when browsers react to repetitiveness by triggering an alert that stops the script.

  • Reading Comprehension Reading Rates says:

    Reading comprehension may be frustrated when readers quickly leave content that offers no immediate information or structure against which to reflect and build strength.

    • Reading ApplicationsReading Rates says:

      Most speed reading applications require practice to build vocabulary and reduce pauses to look up words.