Words, sounds, pictures

Jacob Proffitt Jacob at Proffitt.com
Tue Nov 13 19:35:15 EST 2001

---Original Message From: Melissa Proffitt
> >I read the shapes of the words instead of the words
> themselves (I was
> >just told the other day that not everyone does this, so if
> I'm wrong, I
> >apologize)
> I read more or less this way too, and you're right, not many
> people do. Technically it's not the same as speed-reading,
> which is a specific method; you just read really fast in a
> different way.  Jacob knows more about this than I do; I know
> only that there's at least one method where you "photograph"
> the page and then process it later.  The method of reading
> interests me more than the actual speed people read at.  I
> read in both directions down the page (left to right and then
> right to left) and backwards at a pinch.  It all gets sorted
> out eventually.  I'm just glad because I don't have a lot of
> time to read these days and I can still get through 3-5 books
> a week.  (I suppose I'm still bragging.  Bad Melissa, no
> biscuit.)

I just know from the one tutorial that was forced upon me.  From that, I
know that my natural reading speed is about 30% above average (they
timed us).  The class used two main techniques to speed us up.  The
first was alternate lines backwards.  This is tougher than it sounds and
I have no idea how Melissa does this naturally.  The second was using
background rhythms to accelerate your scanning.  Personally, I didn't
care for it much.  When I push speed, I lose pacing information and
everything seems kind of monotone.

> Anyway, I've been curious ever since I figured out I was
> reading differently from other people (many of whom did read
> about as fast as I do) and so far I know THREE.  (me, my
> brother-in-law, and now Lizzie)  Anyone else read in a
> peculiar way?  And (while we're on the topic) what do you
> consider fast when it comes to reading?  It's one of those
> entirely relative things that is affected by comparing
> yourself to other people.  (Ever time yourself?  Or am I the
> only obsessive-compulsive person who does this?  Honestly, it
> was just the one time, and they made me do it....)

Well, I know that you are between 2.5 and 3 times faster than me.  I
also think that for you, reading is kind of like a different language.
You trip on misspelled words the same way anyone else trips on
mispronounced words.  My pet theory is that reading is never translated
into English for you.  i.e. you don't need to "hear" words for them to
have meaning.  When I read, I hear the words in my head and that means
that my reading speed is fundamentally limited by the speed of
speech--if I speed up past hearing the words, then everything takes on a
monotone quality and things like commas and other pacing elements are

Jacob Proffitt

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