Absorbing Text

Rereading Speed Reading


  • Nathan Jones




Rather than turning away from speed readers because of their surface involvement in the equation ‘fastness = progress’, we examine how this new, temporal form of text might inaugurate a return to the technical and material fundamentals of reading – and what alternative ways of thinking through our relation to new textualities this might offer. This allows us to pose (although not always resolve) questions about technicities and materialities that converge upon the act of reading, but are not reducible to it. The claims made for speed reading applications by commercial companies such as Spritz and Spreader are weighed against clinical research and set within emerging theoretical frameworks, setting the stage for a critical design and creative practice using and abusing speed reader-type technology. We begin by introducing our initial research to date with this new machinic form of reading, and go on to explore what alternate conceptual and practical applications, beyond simply speeding up for the sake of productivity, it may afford, particularly within poetic, performative, and typographic realms. It should be noted that the text is speculative in character, seeking to articulate and provoke questions, rather than provide answers, which our research has engendered thus far, we hope this approach is fertile for readers.