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Entries in personal history (7)

Friday
Jan292010

A Typecast Tribute to J. D. Salinger

Click the page for original size or download the PDF here.

Wednesday
Dec022009

Leo Babauta, I love you dude, but your last post sucked.

A Little Backstory:

When I was younger, my group of friends and I developed our own brand of juvenile etiquette for disagreeing with one another. And so when you needed to tell your buddy something you didn't like about them you opened up the conversation with this phrase, "I love you dude, but…" then your criticism.

Example:

"I love you dude, but the peach-fuzz mustache is not cool, and it doesn’t look good."

If the comment was made in front of the group, an immediate voting on the criticism would ensue. The comment would either be ratified into fact, or vetoed, but most often it was ratified.

Example:

"Yeah man, the mustache needs to go. Everybody thinks so, that’s why we’re telling you."

Some may have seen these exchanges as insincere but within our group, opening up without with the line, "I love you dude" was a form of respect. Granted, it's not the most poetic term of endearment, but it allowed us to be honest with each other, without all the hurt feelings. And so you knew that your buddies were telling you something not because they hated you, but because they cared.

Now that we're caught up, there's something I'd like to say about Leo Babauta's post: "Why reading faster doesn't increase productivity".

"Leo, I love you dude; I'm a big fan of zen habits, read a lot of your articles, and I agree with many of your principles but... your last post sucked."

 

From Your Post:

"I think you should read slower, and focus on doing things slower. It increases your effectiveness, which is a different definition of productivity than 'doing things faster'."

If I understand you correctly, you're saying that focused slower reading increases a person's ability to effectively comprehend the text their reading.

I disagree. In terms of a person's reading rate, there's quite a lot of research that points to the opposite.

Example:

Lori Nunez's dissertation: An Analysis Of The Relationship Of Reading Fluency, Comprehension, And Word Recognition To Student Achievement (May 2009). Her dissertation looked at statewide elementary students in Texas and analyzed various methods for developing reading skills.

In the conclusion, Nunez wrote:

"Consistent with the findings of previous research (Allen, 1988; Buchanan, 2006; Flindt, 2007; Stroud & Henderson, 1943) and the National Reading Panel's identification of key reading components, the study confirmed that early development of reading fluency, comprehension, and word recognition do impact reading performance of students by the middle elementary grades. The results of the data analysis revealed that reading fluency, the number of words read per minute, had the strongest relationship with scores on the third grade reading TAKS. ...It would appear that fluency, the speed and accuracy of words read, contributed to comprehension and understanding of the material read, and ultimately to success on the reading assessment."

And

"In the study, the skill of reading fluency had the strongest relationship and made the greatest contribution to reading TAKS scale scores. The findings of the study supported Rasinski's (2001) argument that the rate a reader reads is significantly correlated to the standardized and informal measurements of comprehension and word recognition."

 

From Your Post:

"productivity isn't about speed, even if we've been led to believe it is. It's about being effective. It's about accomplishing things -- and that's about doing the most important things, not the most things."

I disagree.

"Productivity is from 1809 with meaning 'quality of being productive;' economic sense of 'rate of output per unit' is from 1899."

Reference:productivity. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 02, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/productivity

The two words that stand out for me are the words "quality" and "rate", and the word "rate" is most definitely associated with speed.

 

From Your Post:

"When we speed through tasks and projects, we lose perspective. We forget what's important and just try to do things as fast as possible."

Your quote makes the assumption that when a person does something faster, they sacrifice their effectiveness.

 What about firefighters? Or paramedics? Or doctors?

The rate at which these people do their jobs can determine whether someone else lives or dies, or many people live or die. I think "speed" can have a lot to do with a person's "effectiveness" in the world around them. Firefighters don't rush into a burning building to try to save the most important people; they try to save everyone they possibly can in the time they have.

This not only pertains to the lives of people, but also in people's careers and the lives of companies, in which a person's speed can be determining factor in whether they get to keep their job.

 

From Your Post:

"If reading is important, focus on it, and do it slowly. It'll be that much more enjoyable, and so will the project. And when you absolutely love what you're doing, then productivity is a natural by-product."

If I follow your argument here correctly, you're saying, "If I want to read something that is important to me, the rate at which I read it corresponds to the level of enjoyment I’ll receive from reading it."

I agree that certain texts can be more enjoyable when read slowly, but I disagree that all of the texts that are important to us need to be read this way. I believe, and research shows, there are more factors in the process of translating text into meaning than just voicing the words on the page. The process of visual interpretation of text into meaning is an extremely fast process, and your statement concludes that this method, while fast, will lessen my enjoyment of reading the text.

 

Lastly, From Your Post:

"Slow down, don't speed up. Read slower -- you'll read less, but enjoy it more."

What I don't agree with in this statement, is the assumption that text should be read at one speed. A person can enjoy a fast paced action sequence in an old dime novel reading 400wpm, and then slow down to 150 wpm when detective is explaining how he figured out who the killer was. The reader can read fast and slow throughout the book without losing joy in the text they’re reading.

I was a slow reader for quite some time, and even though reading was important to me, reading slow did not make reading more enjoyable. In fact, quite the opposite.

I don't think I'm alone on this, but maybe I am… I’ve found the more I read, the more I enjoy reading.

We only have a short time in this life, and my approach to reading is much like that fireman running into a burning building. There's too many great things to read in this world that to read them all would take several lifetimes, I'd like to enjoy reading as many of them as possible before my time's up.

Leo, I love you dude, but your last post sucked.

 

Respectfully,

Kris Madden

Friday
Nov202009

Comment from Tumble Design

If for whatever reason my Comment from Tumble Design isn't posted, here it is:

 

"I had a similar conversation with my Dad in my teen years and he forced me to read books on school breaks and write mini-book reports for them. He thought I should be able to read 40 pages a day without a problem, because he could read a page in a minute or less. To him the assignment would only take me 40 min. to an hour max. every day. Was that tasking too much?

But what he didn't realize, and why I couldn't keep up with the reading, was that I read three times slower than he did, which meant that he wasn't asking for an hour out of my day, but three hours. The whole process was frustrated me to no end due to my poor reading skills. I wanted to read, and I had a well developed vocabulary, but when it came to reading silently, I didn't have the skills.

When I became a Junior in high school, I went with this girl for a little while and towards the end of our relationship, I realized that all we ever talked about was gossip and hearsay and superficial pop culture tidbits, but there was never any form of an intellectual conversation between us. I wanted to talk about things that were bigger than our lives, and do things about them, whatever they might be. I wanted to be part of a larger conversation, something I knew I could get from books, but there was still that barrier for me to get over.

After we broke up, I decided I was going to force myself to read. No matter, how hard or difficult it would be, everyday I would read a little bit. It got to the point where I always carried a paperback in my back pocket so that I could read whenever I had a spare moment. And reading became easier, the more I read.

But what really made me a lifelong reader, was learning techniques to increase my reading speed and making reading a more active activity for me. It's because of those exercises that now, not only can I read the books I want to, but I can also read a lot more of them in the same amount of time. I put together my research and exercises into a book, you can read and download for free, for those that are interested.

Otherwise, awesome article Nicky! Keep up the good stuff! "

Tuesday
Nov102009

I don't know if they'll post my comment...

Hi everyone,

A little rant of mine, that has been developing for some time now...

I came across an article that is similar to many that appear around the web, called "Easy Techniques to Increase Reading Speed", and there's nothing really bad about this article. But, it's the millionth version of this article, along with the Dr. Jay Polmar articles, and the like that tell all of us how easy it is to read faster.

Saying things like, "Just stop saying the words in your head," or "Don't pay attention to the small words, just the big ones," or my personal favorite, "Don't re-read, just keep on reading, but make you sure you're comprehending what you're reading." Well, if I understood it, I probably wouldn't need to re-read it would I? So, how do I stop this vicious cycle?

And so you read on, hoping to see the "How It's Done" part, but it never comes. These articles upset me so much, because they remind me of when I was one of the slowest readers in my class. They seem to evoke this feeling of hopelessness, because they tell you it can be done, and that others can do it, but that you can't. And I hate that, because that's not education, it's bull-...well, you know what it is.

I'm fed up with speed reading being associated with scams, informercials, 1-800 numbers, and easy short-cuts for 3 easy payments of $19.95. I want people to know that if they're interested in learning about increasing their reading speed, or increasing their comprehension, the information on how to do it is out there.

There was a time for these kinds of advertisements and sales pitces, but not anymore. It's one of the reasons I don't run ads on website, no ppc, no Chitika, no adsense, or whatever, because I DO NOT want to be associated with any type of scam speed reading program. I  just want to be honest with readers everywhere at all reading speeds and comprehension levels.

So, in case my comment  isn't approved for their website, I've decided to post it here. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Enjoy.

"I agree with your four steps:

1. "eye examination" - Yes, great for assessing your physical capabilities for reading and general vision health.
2. "Stop pronouncing the words" - Yes, sub-vocalization can slow down reading speed.
3. "concentrate on the most important words" - Yes, I think it's perfectly okay to skip over the the's and the and's and the a's and the an's. Think about how much faster you would have read that last statement if you had skipped over them.
4. "stop regressing" - Yes, several researchers have shown that the amount of fixations that a person makes while reading a line of text correlate with their reading rate.

And while these are great tips, how does a person learn to stop sub-vocalizing when it's become a habit like breathing? How do you learn to ignore the words "the" "and" and so forth? And why should you stop regressing, when you can't remember what you just read, isn't comprehension more important? Shouldn't you re-read so that you get the main idea?

The answers are out there and many of them are free because they date back to 1900's with the publications of W.B. Secor's study and E.B. Huey's 1908 book "The Psychology and Pedagogy of Read", which is available on Google Books to read for free and download. The research and the answers are out there for everyone to read.

Good luck to everyone looking to read faster."

Monday
Oct262009

Less Than 7 Days Until The Store Opens!

Hi Everyone,

Forgive for the lack of updates, my energy has been devoted to making sure everything is in line for the store's grand opening, which has kept me pretty busy.

I have been wrestling with the issue of whether or not the ebook version of "Learn To Speed Read" should be free, and I have decided that the book will be FREE! It will have a creative commons license with it, that will allow you to legally share the book with friends, family, teachers, etc. The print and kindle version will be priced accordingly.

After going back and forth between giving the ebook away for free, or selling it. I came to the conclusion that if the book was worth anything, people were going to share it with other people, because that's what we do when we like something, we share it with our friends. At that point, I knew that if I didn't allow a free ebook then I'd be turning many possible readers into criminals, and I didn't want to do that.

I also felt that this was an  educational book and should be available to teachers, administrators, students, etc. for free for learning, and I thought, "Who isn't a student, a teacher, an administrator, in some form in their life?"

I wanted to share with everyone an exerpt from an email I received a little while ago, because it helped remind me of what life was like before I could read well:

"I'm a sophomore in high school, and I recently found out that I read very slow compared to the rest of the kids in my English class. I attend a very competitive school, so it's not a surprise that a lot of the students read fast and probably don't sub-vocalize. I, on the other hand, read very slowly. I sub-vocalize almost every word I read. It really slows me down.

It doesn't feel good when I am assigned to read 40 pages a night, but end up reading only 20 because I can't read enough in the time I have. Reading slow has also hurt my love for reading. I've always loved to read but reading slowly just makes it tedious sometimes.

Anyways, I was looking for ways to stop sub-vocalization, when I came across your video. I tried your technique of saying 1-2-3-4 as I read and it worked! I was so delighted. My eyes swept across the page in a fluid line, not chunky as it usually goes. I also didn't have to reread anything because I understood what was happening. And also as I read, a picture formed in my mind. It was awesome."

The goal of the book is to help people read more efficiently, increasing both their reading speed and comprehension. My hope is that it helps people with their reading goals as it did this student, as the videos have others, and how my research has helped me.

Have a great day everybody.

 

-Kris Madden

Friday
Sep252009

Readspeeder: Comments from DailyBlogTricks

Today, there was an online conversation between myself and the creator of the software program "readspeeder". Thus far, this was his comment in response to my "Learn to Speed Read" video. I will post updates, if any follow:

  1. Dave on September 24th, 2009 11:27 pm

    Vocalization is not a bad habit!

    It is a common habit to vocalize, or at least sub-vocalize while reading. This practice will prevent you from reading any faster than you can say the words. But vocalizing isn’t really just a habit. It actually does help you understand what you read. Sentences are usually made of multiple phrases. Each phrase is an idea, or a separate thought. When you hear a sentence spoken, there are sound clues that indicate these phrases. You may not be aware of it because it’s as subconscious as walking, but listen carefully to the previous sentence when it’s divided into phrases…

    When you hear — a sentence spoken, — there are sound clues — that indicate — these phrases.

    If you listen carefully to the spoken words, you will notice that the first word of each phrase is spoken in a lower pitch, like a lower musical note. Lowering our pitch indicates to the listener that this is the next thought being presented and this makes our spoken sentences easier for the listener to understand. This lower pitch tells the listener that a new part of the sentence is coming. But these audio clues are not available in written text, and so we have a tendency to sound out the words to listen for them ourselves.

    There is a free online application which will take any text and convert it into its natural phrases. It will then display these phrases one after the other at your control or automatically with an adjustable speed control. Go to http://www.ReadSpeeder.com and try it out.

    Although there is often more than one way to break a sentence into phrases, ReadSpeeder’s patent-pending process does a good job of quickly finding the natural, meaningful phrases. When the sentence is presented to you in this way, you no longer need to internally sound out the sentences. You will instantly grasp the meaning of each phrase at a glance, just like you grasp the meaning of words at a glance, without thinking of each letter. Faster understanding will lead to faster reading. This method is really the opposite of most attempts to read faster. The usual advice is to push your reading speed, and try to maintain comprehension, with the hope that, with practice, the comprehension will improve. With ReadSpeeder, you understand faster to begin with. Use ReadSpeeder and no longer will you be restricted to reading at the speed of speech. You will be reading at the speed of thought.

    If you have any questions, you can write me at dbutler@readspeeder.com

  2. Kris Madden on September 25th, 2009 12:07 pm

    I have to say that I disagree with your line:

    “But vocalizing isn’t really just a habit. It actually does help you understand what you read.”

    But research continues to show that sub-vocalized reading does not increase comprehension. This is dating back to 1900 with:

    Secor, W. B. (1900). Visual Reading: A Study in Mental Imagery. The American Journal of Psychology, 11(2), 225-236.

    And the computer program “read speeder” is built to eliminate subvocalization through pushing the larynx to say things faster than it physically can, which then allows the eyes to begin taking in information. So, I don’t understand why you would make a case for subvocalization, when your product helps to eliminate it.

    Personally, I think the computer program is neat because it has a nice chunking feature for beginners, but once you’re reading above 800-1000 words, the feature becomes relatively useless.

  3. Dave on September 25th, 2009 1:30 pm

    Thanks for your reply Kris. I suppose you’re right that ReadSpeeder is primarily for beginners. I can see your point that it would be much less useful for those reading over 800 wpm.

    I am not familiar with that 1900 study, but wouldn’t you agree that when you read a difficult passage, you naturally go back and vocalize it to better understand the meaning? Most people read in the 200 wpm range, and they tend to vocalize everything for this same reason.

    I look at it this way. We’ve had spoken language way longer than printed language, and therefore are much better at communicating with the spoken word. The spoken word has lots of additional information in the form of pitch, volume, and rhythm, which is missing in text. Sounding out the text is an attempt to replace this information. Compared to the spoken word, text is like watching a video in black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.

    Now, if you are referring to ‘chunking’ as simply groups of words, I would not see much benefit to ReadSpeeder other than just pushing you to read faster. But what makes ReadSpeeder work is that it actually finds the natural, meaningful phrases. This is what makes the reading easier to understand; each phrase is a separate idea, and can be instantly recognized without thinking of the separate words.

    I’m not trying to make the case or vocalization. Vocalization restricts your reading speed. But if the reader is presented a complete, meaningful phrase, they will not *need* to vocalize. The meaning of the phrase can be instantly grasped in the same way the meaning of a word can be understood without being consciously aware of the individual letters.

    Anyway, it’s interesting to hear from someone with an interest and knowledge in this topic. Your comments indicate to me that http://www.readspeeder.com needs to improve its descriptions and explanations. If you have any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again for you comments.

    Dave

  4. Kris Madden on September 25th, 2009 4:34 pm

    In constructing my responses, I have written a dialogue of sorts between Dave and myself to better organize my thoughts on Dave’s comments and software:

    Dave: “Wouldn’t you agree that when you read a difficult passage, you naturally go back and vocalize it to better understand the meaning?”

    Kris Madden: No, I don’t agree. More and more research points to the fact that re-reading hinders comprehension. Are you familiar with psychology professor, Mark A. McDaniel, research?

    The following is from The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/article/C.....ite/31819):

    “Don’t Reread
    A central idea of Mr. McDaniel’s work, which appears in the April issue of Psychological Science and the January issue of Contemporary Educational Psychology, is that it is generally a mistake to read and reread a textbook passage. That strategy feels intuitively right to many students — but it’s much less effective than active recall, and it can give rise to a false sense of confidence.”
    Dave: “We’ve had spoken language way longer than printed language, and therefore are much better at communicating with the spoken word.”

    Kris Madden: To judge a system of communication based on the length of its history, reduces the importance of developing new ways of communicating with one another. It’s like saying, “We’ve ridden horses longer than we’ve driven cars, or flown airplanes, therefore it’s much better to travel by horse.” Or, “We’ve driven combustion engine cars for longer than hybrids, therefore combustion engine cars are better for travel.”

    Dave: “Compared to the spoken word, text is like watching a video in black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.”

    Kris Madden: Comparing the quality of text versus speech, seems to remove the beauty of Helen Keller’s writing and suggests that the written word is an inferior form of communication. I think speech and text both have significant qualities to offer in means of communication, which is why the world still writes and talks, because we need both. I’ve stayed up late reading books that captivated my imagination and at the same time read books that put me to sleep. And I’ve listened to speeches that inspired me, and others that bored that produced less than a “black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.”

    Dave: “But what makes ReadSpeeder work is that it actually finds the natural, meaningful phrases.”

    Kris Madden: Using “read speeder”, with the book “A Christmas Carol”, the program divides the line: “… and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.” into”

    “And Scrooge’s name”
    “Was good upon”
    “‘Change,”
    “for anything he chose”
    “to put his hand to.”

    To me, it seems like Dickens already divided the line into meaningful phrases using commas. The program seems to only subdivide the Dickens’ original phrasing into the way the computer thinks it should be divided. For a computer to rephrase Dickens, seems presumptuous in my mind.

    From Dave’s webpage: “Today, typing and email are so much faster than the old methods of hand-writing and postal-mail. Why should reading still be slow?”

    Kris Madden: I agree, “Why should reading still be slow?” I don’t think having a computer divide text into smaller “meaningful phrases” is the key to accelerating a person’s reading speed and comprehension. I think there are more internal factors to take into account than external in development of a person’s reading capabilities. 

  5. Dave on September 25th, 2009 5:25 pm

Thank you Kris. You’ve been very generous with your reply. I see exactly what you mean in each or your responses. I think that perhaps I have not made my point as clearly as you have.

But thank you very much anyway. And thank you for trying ReadSpeeder and giving it your careful consideration.

Dave

 

 

Monday
Sep142009

Flushlife

Hello everyone. There's a new article up on Flushlife.com. It's a blog for the extremely wealthy. I wrote an article on finding the best tutor for them, based on my experience both as a tutor and as a branch manager for a tutoring company.

At first I thought that writing the article would be easy because I had a great deal of experience in the field. But there were many questions that came to my mind that had no application for the audience that I was writing for, such as: "How much do you charge?", "What's your background?", "What degrees do you have?"

I figured if I were extremely wealthy then those questions would already be answered. And the truth of the matter is that, the answers to those questions don't always lead you to the best tutors. The five questions I came up with I think apply to any tutoring company, school, parents, etc.

I hope you enjoy the article. There's a link for it on the MY WRITING tab. or you can get there by clicking here.