Rapid Serial Visual Presentation

Reading this interview with Cory Doctorow (by RU Sirius, nonetheless), I discovered Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (of text).

The speed-read shows you one word at a time, and it shows them at a speed that’s determined by a little slider. And it pauses a little after a comma, and longer after a period, and longer after a paragraph break. And you can crank it way up and it just rockets past. And you’re getting every word. It’s kind of meant for very small screens, and it really feels like you’re doing something weird to your brain. It really feels like you’re tweaking your cognition in ways that it was not intended to be tweaked. It’s very transhuman.

Worth researching, methought. If you want to see a simple example without loading your own text, here is Cory’s book Eastern Standard Tribe pre-loaded into SpeedReader online. Just go to that link and move the slider to the right and set the speed you want. Following are brief instructions to experience RSVP with any text you want.
Download this simple Java-based app that runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Then grab some text. I used the text file of Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks, but you can use any plain text file you want. Dump the text into the “speederText.txt” file, add “START_SPEEDER” at the top of the file, save it, and open “textExample.html” in your web browser.
The first thing I notice, reading the Acknowledgments, is that, hehehe, the word “I” is all but invisible. I imagine people hear that invisibility too, when you write with a lot of “I’s” in your sentences. So I think I should probably stop using “I” when I express myself.
After ten minutes of play, is there is a difference in perception between fiction and non-fiction? Cory’s book seems easier to “read” than Yochai’s, but the in addition to being non-fiction, Wealth is written from a legal perspective. It could simply be more dense, no matter slow or fast.