Here’s an interesting new piece of software: it’s called RapidReader, and it purports to allow you to double or triple your reading speed by flashing a document onto your computer screen one word at a time, at a rate of up to 950 words per minute. Being a skeptic by temperament, I was surprised to discover that the program actually works: I was able to read an online newspaper article at about double my normal reading speed. The increased speed, I suspect, comes from not having to move your eyes across a line of text — instead, you just “take in” the words as they appear successively in the same spot. Moreover, I think that I understood and retained as much of the newspaper article using RapidReader as I would have if I had read it in a conventional fashion.
Now, I wouldn’t want to use RapidReader for reading a really long document because it does demand fairly intense concentration; nor would I want to use RapidReader when I’m reading for pleasure. But if I had a twenty-page document and I had to have it read for a meeting that started in ten minutes — I would definitely do so using RapidReader.
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Readers who are not sure they want to fork out cash to see if they like the application may want to try the freeware item iReadFast. It actually seems to go above 950 wpm.