Hyper: A Bookmarklet to Optimize Reading Speed
May 19, 2022 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Hyper: A Bookmarklet to Optimize Reading Speed
This bookmarklet enables one to optimize reading speed by bolding the first few letters of each word in text. It operates on any HTML and can also be accessed within the webpage.
Role: Programmer
posted by metatuesday (1 comment total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

That might be helpful to some, but it's not to me. Tried it because I was curious. I read ridiculously fast, and it's not any form of speed reading, or even anything I was taught. (And yes, I retain it.)

Reasons I can identify:
1) It creates a page that's way too bright for me. Actually hurts my eyes to look at it.
2) The letters are enormous, and there are huge spaces between the lines. This combo REALLY slows me down, because I don't read words at a time. I don't know the correct terminology to describe how I read, but to describe it, it's closer to glancing at the page and just KNOWING what an entire sentence or paragraph says. Unless the page or screen is very wide, my eyes move very little left-to-right, just down the page.
3) I have no idea if the bolded initial letters would be helpful if the above two items were fixed. I suspect fixing those might help, but that I'd still find the bolded letters to be a distraction, not an improvement. At 45, it's pretty set in my head that bold, italic, and underline are used to highlight text in a way that make me slow my speed just an increment so that I pay it more attention. So this trips me up, possibly because my subconscious is trying to slow that fraction to emphasize the importance of the MEANING of the bolded text, and then I trip over it, because there is no meaning attached to the bolding.

In short, while I *liked* the concept and was curious enough to try it, I don't think it's going to improve the speed of a strong reader. Additionally, I'd have some concerns about using it with students.

I taught my own children to read prior to school age, and am familiar with quite a lot of the curricula out there to help structure it. I think this *might* be helpful at one particular stage where students are grabbing the initial sounds to get the entire word. (Again, I don't have the proper terminology for it. I'm not trained in teaching reading.) Then again, I'm not sure the bolded letter groupings would be the most helpful ones. And the biggest challenge I've noticed at the stage I'm talking about isn't that they don't grab words - it's that they're in the process of turning words that they'd learned phonetically into sightwords, and as they're reading along out loud, their brain grabs the wrong word, because it just saw the initial letter and assumed. (At this point, the person listening them needs to stop them and slow them down so they LOOK fully at the words; they're ready to read faster, but they don't have enough words trained into that internal vocabulary yet.)

And the reason I hesitate to suggest it would be useful during this stage is because I suspect it might delay, not improve, that transition. Perhaps, if it wasn't on ALL the words, just the digraphs/consonant blends that start words?

Anyways. I'd love to know what kind of reader this is supposed to help (and it might be a good idea to add more info indicating such) because I'm clearly not the proper target, and I suspect you have lots of positive feedback from others to have even gotten the project so far.

And please, don't take this as I'm devaluing your work or it's purpose!!! I've yet to encounter any sort of speed-reading program that did anything but slow me down. I really am somewhere off the end of the fast spectrum. (I do nonsense like read entire pages upside down and then have to WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT for even a fast right-side-up reader to catch up.)
posted by stormyteal at 5:41 PM on May 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

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