You may notice, hanging off the bottom-right corner of your screen, a little blue tab. When clicked, it opens up a window which you can use to speed-read this page. This is Textcelerator, my project for the past two months. It’s installed on this blog, so you can speed-read your way through any of my posts. It’s also a browser plugin (for Firefox 8+ or Chrome 15+), which will put it on every web page, so you can speed-read your way through other blogs, emails, and so on. (The plugin is free for 30 days, then costs $45.)
You should give Textcelerator a try right now – open it, and click play. If you want to start in the middle, or go back and reread, just click on the text to go there, and click on the window to unpause. Adjust the speed to something comfortable.
Why speed read? Well, look at it this way: reading is the fastest method we have for absorbing information, and we spend lots of time reading. We read for work, for pleasure, and to gain skills. More reading means more knowledge. If the things you read are well chosen, that also means more power. A small improvement in reading speed means getting more of all of these things.
But the improvement from using speed-reading software isn’t small. How big an improvement is it? Actually, I don’t know yet. The next version is going to include a bunch of speed tracking, reading comprehension tests, and so on, to measure how fast people read with it, how long they take to acclimate and how much practice helps. But in the mean time, while we’re waiting for data, I do have an anecdote. After acclimating for about a month, my own reading speed, with Textcelerator, is double my reading speed without it.