Mind at light speed

Wednesday, November 27th, 2002
As I have recently returned to school, I have tried to apply my technical expertise to solving the productivity problems of the student. One challenge, which I am working on, is to improve the speed at which I can digest large quantities of textual information that I need to study.

I use both speed reader and audio/visual queuing software for this purpose.  One program that I found especially helpful is a tool called Ace Reader Pro.

They have an expert mode that queues text to your eyes as fast as your brain can digest it. The program starts out at 150 words per minute and can stream up to 2000 WPM.  I can get to about 550 WPM before I find that I lose comprehension.  The program has an expert mode, with speed drills and techniques for improving your reading speed and comprehension.

Overall, I have found the program valuable for speed reading and for training my eyes to follow streams of text at rapid rates. It has been interesting to hit a wall that is not one of technology, but one of the mind.  

This is not a replacement for curling up with a good book and a down comforter. On the other hand, it can be a useful tool to improve your reading skills and to reduce the time spent absorbing new information.  It recently helped me get through Moby Dick in 17 hours compared to the estimated 36-48 hours it would have taken otherwise.

I looked into this technology a few years ago from another company. They pulled their product off the market, choosing instead to pursue licensing their technology to PCS phone manufacturers. I like the concept and, based on my experience, would recommend it above any small screen solution.  Hopefully, someday soon, I will find a comparable application for my Palm.

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