Jacob Garber: Even as an English major, I will embrace speed reading apps

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Hatchet File Photo
Hatchet File Photo

Jacob Garber, a senior majoring in English and creative writing, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

As long as there has been reading, there has been the desire to read faster. Spritz, a new speed-reading technology that will soon debut on smartphones, is raising the bar to an unprecedented level.

The big tagline: You can read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in one hour.

As an English major, part of me wants to put on my smug hat and lament the death of reading. I wouldn’t be the first to point out that software like Spritz lets us sacrifice comprehension for expedience, as though the point of reading is simply to get it done.

Ian Bogost of The Atlantic voices these thoughts in his “Eulogy for Reading,” in which he calls Spritz the “apotheosis of speed reading: reading in which completion is the only goal.”

But as a college student, I see Spritz as a godsend – a response to a problem and conventional wisdom that is already too pervasive to halt.

It is true that reading is becoming more and more rooted in speed, as though the point of reading is to finish as quickly as possible, regardless of comprehension, as if a gold bronze star waits at the end.

But there are only so many hours in the day, and we are bombarded with reading content from all angles. As students, we read textbooks, literature and research papers. And even on top of that, we have texts, articles, tweets and whatever else is thrown at us throughout the day. The sheer volume of reading we are expected to intake makes it impossible to understand all of it – and as such, any technology that can help us out is much warranted.

As a bona fide snail reader, I have chosen to skip assigned textbook readings, skim literature or blatantly neglect to purchase a book, knowing that I wouldn’t have time to read it anyway. I don’t do this because I’m lazy – or at least I’ll keep telling myself that – but rather because I know there just aren’t enough hours in each day.

Yes, cognitive scientists have pointed out the diminished comprehension that comes with reading at 500 words per minute. However, in the end, anything that makes reading more accessible is a positive thing, one that sure beats never opening a book at all.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.