Hmmmm... I'm sure it'll need a linked scientific study to actually back up the claim. (And every speed-reading product I've seen has usually had a decrease in comprehension rate...)
It's a clever idea, but anecdotally, from my experience, I'm finding it slows down my reading -- I'm having a hard time processing the blurbs because I don't read "linearly" -- I scan content to find the relevant parts, and the color changes are making it difficult to scan (because my eye can no longer use color to determine what is scannable and what isn't), and multiple columns is actually making it even more difficult (it looks like the blue in column 1 leads into the blue in column 2, instead of the blue at the next line of column 1). By trying to force me to read line-by-line, instead of scanning efficiently, it's making me read slower.
But that's just for short-form stuff. It could turn out to be faster for some layouts, and slower for others. But honestly, I've never felt I had difficulty locating the start of the next line... is this a problem that needs solving? But nevertheless, it's certainly a good example of clever out-of-the-box thinking.
I normally read around 600 to 1000 wpm (depending on how dense or vapid it is). This speeds up my reading wayyyyy past that. 1500 wpm? And I was barely trying. It does look super fucking ugly, but it totally works for me. They need to bring in an army of designers and make software geared towards legal assistants / lawyers because they need this desperately.
I trained a bit speed reading when I was in higschool from some book that was translated from Russian (sorry, no idea what was the book)
the main idea there was to:
1) not saying words with inner voice
2) not reading letter by letter (seeing whole word at once)
3) reading by connected words not only word by word
4) there was eye training exercise, the idea was that you had to train vision a bit to be able to read more text with less eye movement, i.e. to read word by word you have to be able to see whole word at once (so your brain recognizes word with 1 lookup, not letter-by-letter lookup)
whether this helped - I don’t now but that spreeder says that I can read more than 1500 wpm on casual texts (when there is a lot of material I want to realy comprehend, ofcourse it is slower even by factor of 3)
I have no idea what speed I read at but it's weird seeing this stated... I never imagined anyone but a 4 year old would do 1 and 2 and would have thought that 3 and 4 were basically just normal adult reading. I did read a lot when I was a kid
It is a normal transition for childhoods filled with reading. I read about 10k pages a year until I graduated university.
For a hacker, it is normal to not subvocalize.
I think it is also one of the reasons that we hate meetings so much. An email can be written at about 40 wpm, and read much, much, much faster. So past 2 or 3 people, the dominant strategy should be text, unless sidechannel meaning is needed (where emotions are involved or whatever).
I wasn't skeptical at you saying the increase was this big, and then I went to try it for myself. Wow. This definitely allows my eyes to track better. I'm a bit dizzy now, too ... Reading felt as fluent as my own thoughts.
I read at 146 words per minute, and that is average text. I probably read slower when the material is hard. Over the past year or so I went through roughly 90% of Plato's work (like, really), The Quran (partially), On the Nature of Things, Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Discourses by Epictetus, How to Read by M. Adler, Alchemy of Happiness by Ghazalli, etc.... I also read several short text including James Allen, Xenophon, etc... Currently I am reading Jacques Rousseau, and getting back soon to Adam Smith Wealth of Nations... I also started but did not finish yet the Communist Manifesto, How we think (slightly), Prior Analytics (slightly) and perhaps my hardest read ever, Suma Theologica. I am 100% sure I forgot a couple of books I read. Many of these writings I re-read a few times because they are hard to grasp for me. AT 146 words/minute. I am an inefficient reader, and I never knew it. I am going to thoroughly research ways to improve this.
None of those are works that should be speed-read. Thomas Aquinas, Plato, Epictetus, the Qur'an, and (above all) the Bible should be rolled around the mouth, tasted deeply, and either made a part of you or thoroughly spit out if they are found indigestible. If your mechanical reading speed is the limiting factor in reading these works, you're doing it wrong.
I agree, but god damn, I am jealous. I have two small children and I've finished one book this year. (Coders at Work by Peter Siebel, I highly recommend it.)
My wife reads 10x faster than I do but completely eschews the kind of reading I like (viz, literature). But of course, now that, y'know, she has kids too, her overall reading speed is strangely reduced as well.
Anyway, at a first glance I found the line coloring helpful.
The King James Bible is not a that close translation of the original texts. It contains many translation errors and additions by later scribes not present in older texts. Generally more recent translations of the Bible are way more accurate, due to better access and more study of sources today and due to better understanding of ancient Greek and Hebrew.
"It was my resolve to live watchfully, and never use my tongue amiss; still, while I was in the presence of sinners, I kept my mouth gagged, dumb and patient, impotent for good. But indignation came back, and my heart burned within me, the fire kindled by my thoughts, so that at last I kept silence no longer.
"Lord, warn me of my end, and how few my days are; teach me to know my own insufficiency. See how thou hast measured my years with a brief span, how my life is nothing in thy reckoning! Nay, what is any man living but a breath that passes? Truly man walks the world like a shadow; with what vain anxiety he hoards up riches, when he cannot tell who will have the counting of them! What hopes then is mine, Lord? In thee alone I trust. Clear me of that manifold guilt which makes me the laughing-stock of fools, tongue-tied and uncomplaining, because I know that my troubles come from thee; spare me this punishment; I faint under thy powerful hand. When thou dost chasten man to punish his sins, gone is all he loved, as if the moth had fretted it away; a breath that passes, and no more. Listen, Lord to my prayer, let my cry reach thy hearing, and my tears win answer. What am I in thy sight but a passer-by, a wanderer, as all my fathers were? Thy frown relax, give me some breath of comfort, before I go away and am known no more."
-Psalm 38 (39) from Knox's Translation of the Vulgate.
Knox's translation is lucid when compared with the "correct" and dead modern translations of the bible. Try it if King James does not speak to you.
I'm very late to respond, but I wrote what I did as a religious point. After a lot of years of doubt on the matter, I've come to the conclusion that what the Bible contains is critically important truth. I honestly think it fails as literature, because it is incoherent unless comprehended by faith; but it is a source of comfort, encouragement, and guidance to those whom God has freely given faith beforehand.
But if you choose to read it as literature, I certainly won't stop you!
Plato is mostly dialogues and it is only hard in the sense that I have to extract the philosophy out of the text, plus Socrates goes around and around. Epictetus is ok as well, the text is simple to read, and I found myself taking many notes and comparing his text to others. Modern interpretation of the Quran with commentary is helpful, the thing about it being that each chapter is somewhat separated from the rest. Bible, I picked than put it back down with humility because I just knew I could not grasp it. Aquinas is hard to follow, imo he is a logician before a theologian and I know nothing of the first and very little of the second science. However I am very interested in the subject of his writing. I agree it is "accidentally" mechanical reading although my goal is "understanding." I just started to read heavily the past 2 years and this is my beginner's eagerness.
Set the chunk size to three for best effect. Just gradually increase it each time, and also try using it occasionally with the speed far too fast. You'll get used to subvocalizing less, and reading multiple words at once.
Of course, for complex texts like the ones you read, it's natural to read much slower. I read 600 WPM for most internet articles, but I'm sure I wouldn't read plato that fast, nor as continuously.
If you're not reading these works purely for edification then I assume you are working through a Great Books curriculum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_books ). Congratulations. The trouble will soon be finding anyone to with which discuss what you've read, especially if you work in technology where ideas are assumed to have a shelf life. Being well read can be alienating.
In terms of increasing reading speed, you may want to try the utility "dictator" for those texts which are electronic. For physical books I would run a finger under text to maintain momentum as Adler suggested in "How To Read a Book". Make notes in the text, being sure to use a custom set of symbols to speed notation. Write concise thoughts in the margin, don't go overboard.
I am definitely going through the G.B., with other writings from Middle Eastern background. It started when I was researching Islamic & Western texts on a particular subject and similarities. Somewhere along I happened upon Adler's book on How to Read. I agree on having no one to discuss it with, but it's ok, "I am having a discussion with the authors on the margins." If you are going through the list I'll be more than happy to have a long term dialogue (email in profile).
I don't think they're claiming this as a "speed reading" product in the traditional sense. They're saying it increases reading speed when reading the way most people do, which is line by line. It's certainly not likely to be useful for the kind of reading where you need to scan. But for fiction and other writing that is meant to be read linearly, the claims they're making seem plausible.
What it doesn't help with is transposing from adjacent lines when reading the middle of a column, which happens to me all the time. The middle of the column is always black, so there's not much of a cue to keep you on the same line.
In making my workaround to get a similar effect in calibre, I made a variation I much prefer which cycles red->green->blue, so that column centers are always easy to separate.
You can change the font size and line height by a little bit without needing to adjust anything (since the color gradient is continuous vertically, it is a bit tolerand), but if you make a dramatic change, you'll need to adjust the background height from 72px to the height of three text lines.
There's an existing, broadly used method for solving the line transition errors - you background color every two lines in an alternating set of colors. There used to be ribbon-feed printer paper pre-colored with this for certain applications that involve reading across lines a lot (like database output.) Seems like that is a more practical solution.
I'm not aware of eye tracking setups that are reasonably priced and that accurate, but I like the idea quite a bit :) I'll have to test it out some time - should be relatively fake-able by just moving a marker up/down with keys.
I was actually surprised at how good it was for linear reading - i.e. reading everything without skipping or missing any line. I'd use it for things like contracts and important tutorials/ebooks, where every word counts.
But I agree that it sucks for quick scans - the different colors just add another layer of complexity for our brain to process...
I found my eyes 'jumping' from word to word. I didn't miss any, and I went to the correct lines, but I did seem to be reading at a much slower clip. But that's from spending 30 seconds reading the webpage, so not very scientific.
"Jumping from word to word" is a pretty slow way to read - "speed reading" involves chunking blocks of words or even entire lines - if you watch some people when speed reading their eyes don't scan left-right at all, but just stop briefly on each line as they scan down the page.
I felt (without experimenting in a measurable way) that particularly the blue-red transitions _really_ slowed down my "normal" reading…
It might not be a problem for you - it isn't for me either - but many others suffer from this problem. My other half struggles to read because she has so many line transition errors. And she has to spend all day reading. I see a huge market for this.
But how you make money? Whatever they believe is patentable, I don't see it holds in the court. Good luck patenting colors of text. Further, the major places where you would see this going major: schools, libraries, law school, law field, etc, most of those places are extremely reluctant to new technologies. To them its not a matter of doing it better, its a matter of doing it the way we know how to do it and been doing for years. Lots of libraries still use typehead machines because those in charge are very old and don't trust/hate technology.
The reading test is randomized—different people get different stories in color or black. The order of black/color is also randomized. It's not perfect, but it'll have to hold us over until the larger study from the university research lab is completed.
I suspect that there's a threshold effect going on: if you naturally read faster than a certain speed, certain design tricks will actually make you read even faster. If you naturally read slower, then those same tricks slow you down.
Would love to see it confirmed or falsified.
(As a note, I am probably under this hypothetical threshold; I'm not a slow reader, but I find that efforts to speed up my reading speed generally push it down instead.)
I cannot understand why it would slow you down, why do you think it might?
Anyway, my experience from this is that it was much easier to differentiate, parse, and scan with the ugly colours (43% faster apparently). However, my natural slowness in reading is in both understanding and committing to memory. I get the feeling that this did not help much with regard to this..
Amazing, it had the exact polar opposite effect for my eyes. I often have trouble keeping my place in black and white text. I find it like trying to focus on a single conversation in a pub but I end up hearing everyone at once.
If you don't mind me postulating, I wonder whether this difference is something intrinsic to the focussing effect of binocular vision, or if your field of view has maybe trained your brain to be more urgently perceptive to peripheral vision?
then again, maybe its just colour perception.. or different strokes (and thanks, I just learnt about binocular summation.. fascinating)
I slowed down considerably as well. I found myself rereading the same lines over and over for no apparent reason. After a very short time I started to get a mild headache as well. Of course, that could also be the fact that it's getting late but I usually read for 30 minutes before going to bed.
I think it depends how close the text is too, and how long the sentences are on a single line. If it's heavy reading then you don't necessarily want to be or able to read as quickly, though might be good for skimming it.
It said I had a 15% increase. not too sure about that, but one thing i definitely did notice was that was I kept reading the beeline sentence my brain was 'remembering' what I had just read.
I 'constantly' have to re-read entire paragraphs because I realised I've looked at them without really taking anything in. It was really strange to feel like i was processing the text as I was reading it.
I'm initially inclined to dismiss this as ugly and distracting, especially with the default colors being very similar to the traditional link/visited HTML colors. It would be worth exploring further if the claimed improvements are true.
I'd especially be interested in exploring ways to incorporate this into better designed color schemes so that it doesn't look so much like a unicorn vomited on the page while preserving the benefits and usability.
I'm also less inclined to dismiss improvements like these after misinterpreting the occasional email from colleagues lately. I don't know if it is assuming I know the full contents from the 3 line summary on mobile devices, processing too much email, or simply not paying enough attention but I've had to slow down and make sure I get things right.
"Nice" colorschemes are probably less useful here since nice usually means harmonious. The point is to maximize your brain's ability to unconsciously distinguish them, so red/blue is a good choice if you need a lot of help. If you're more sensitive to colors, then the grayscale is probably a better choice.
that would be very annoying when reading on any touch based device. Even on a normal laptop - most people who can read well enough dont need to follow the text with the cursor anyways .. its just adds an unnecessary action that would work against the goal of this concept - speeding peoples reading up!
>A study designed and carried out at Stanford University showed an average reading speed increase of over 10 percent for first time users of BeeLine Reader. Many seasoned users experience speed increases of 25 to 30 percent!
So why isn't the study linked?
Regardless of whether or not the claims are true, who in the hell decided for red and blue for the demo's default? The blues/grays themes look okay. IMO, saturated red and blue and probably the two worst colors to use together in a design.
I had a similar thought when I read the texts.
The first (b&w) text was just harder to comprehend due to esoteric words, lack of thought direction, and several personas. I couldn't understand what author was trying to say.
The second (colored) text was about a female teacher and had a common vocabulary and a straight-forward theme with one character.
According to them I read 11% faster. Although I guessed on 2 out 3 questions, compared to knowing all 3 from b&w text.
Thus, I call BS on their testing experience. These two texts are way too different. And picking an easier one for beeline text does a disservice to this hopefully legit fast reading method.
Actually, the test randomizes which passage you receive in which color. So if you got the "harder" one in Beeline, you might have the opposite experience. (I've tried it a couple times to see how it works...)
The bright color scheme was selected so that it's really obvious to first-time website visitors what's going on. When we read with the bookmarklets, we don't use the bright color scheme—usually it's greyscale or blue/purple.
I was ready to call B.S. on this but after actually seeing it in action, it seems very reasonable. I wonder why this hasn't been done before. I happen to skip lines very often, I'll definitely try this out.
EDIT: Some feedback after reading a Cracked article with it.
First of all, since the inception of the Readability bookmarklet I've always read online articles with some kind of tool (I started with Readability, then passed to the Safari version and now I've been using Clearly for quite some time and I'm pretty happy about it) and now I'm so used to it that if a particular article doesn't render properly, I just straight out don't read it. The first thing I noticed is that the coloration is applied even to single-line titles, I would do away with it and (maybe) apply it only on multi-line paragraphs' titles. The other thing that irked me is that small images are put on the left side instead of being centered, even worse is the fact that text appears on the right side of the images; I would follow Clearly steps in this regard and always put the text under the centered images. Lastly, I would reduce the text area to 600px of width or better yet, dynamically size it so as to accommodate around 60 characters. As far as I can tell, you totally nailed the font size.
I tend to skip lines or re-read lines when reading, and I was surprised at how applying this gradient helped me continuously read their homepage. Definitely going to see how I can use this to improve my reading comprehension!
Others have pointed this out but: "BeeLine Reader is a patent pending technology" Well, there goes any respect I might have had for this. It is not obvious in every respect, but this is such a basic idea, trying to control it for 20 years while people perhaps find it useful and build this feature everywhere is absolutely destructive. I hope their patent is rejected.
Although it is fair to have an opinion about this based on personal experience, remember that performance when reading is a personal matter (anecdotal evidence: the crowd that highlights text for reading ; scientific evidence: dyslexia).
So it is good to remember that it might or might not work depending on the way your individual brain works, independently of what the person next to you gets from it.
Having recently looked into speed reading a bit, this seems to do a quite good job at filling the role of a pacer without actually requiring any manual interaction by the reader. Nice work! Easily beats trying to pace yourself with the mouse cursor or text selection at least, while actually preserving pages mostly as-is.
For some reason the color gradients changed the intonation with which I read it--so the whole thing sounded, in my mind's ear, like an eighties valley girl, replete with uptalk, aka the "moronic interrogative."*
"BeeLine Reader is an exciting new technology? That helps people read faster? On computers?"
Maybe I'd get used to it. But if not, a 100x speed increase wouldn't be worth having that in my head. Like, all day?
My gut feeling (and the websites I enjoy reading, and what I recently did to my blog) is that line skipping is due to too long lines combined with little font-size and line height. But of course, not all eyes/eye-brain systems work the same, and I'm sure this will be more helpful to some than larger fonts with larger line heights.
Line height, line width, and font size, are the 3 elements of a body of large text that must be balanced. There is some basic arithmetic to this, and it appears everyone seems to ignore it. (HN's design is a perfect example of the 'meh' attitude toward readability.)
Heh, read it (it's in my Instapaper for some future referenc since it appeared first heree) But when I did the redesign I just went with the flow and what I saw nice on my screen. After all, what I write in my blog works as future reference for me, too :)
The testing methodology is quite flawed (at least for the reading speed test on the site). It asks you to read a passage with BeeReader to start out. When you're done, you're presented with questions about the passage before reading a non-BeeReader passage.
The catch is, you will almost certainly read the second passage slower than the first, since you're now looking to retain information for the questions!
The colored passages _feel_ faster, but I'm not sure that counts for much.
Surely the author is not claiming that putting color on text gives them som sort of patentable intellectual property? If this takes off and people will start incorporating this on their blogs, this company will become one of the biggest patent trolls.
It's not that clear-cut. There's a real reason to ask if there's studies here, because it's not easy to self-assess if this actually works. Reading is more than just "how fast can I scan the lines in order" - it's also about comprehension, eye fatigue, etc. All of which are hard for an individual to assess casually.
I think this is interesting, but I'd want to see studies on what the incremental cognitive load of "color matching" (not something I'm particularly great at) does to reading comprehension, and what the impact of this is on how much I can read in a sitting. It's no good if you read 50% faster but tire out 3X as fast.
I totally disagree with this sentiment (respectfully, of course). If you know the numbers it will bias your experience. You need to try it for yourself and determine on an individual level if your comprehension/speed suffers, improves or stays the same.
I'm saying that regardless of whether you know the number or not, you're probably unable to assess the impact of the system simply via personal trial. E.g., one person can't test reading speed or comprehension on the exact same body of text with both methods, for obvious reasons.
BeeLine Reader applies a color gradient to text that helps reduce "line transition errors" [...] This increases reading speed, particularly on mobile devices that have small screens and short lines
Err. Line transition errors are common on mobile devices, not because lines are short (the shorter the line, the less common line transition errors are), but because people are usually moving, walking, etc while holding a mobile device.
So this is obviously a problem, right? We had MagicScroll  which got a ton of positive hits, and now this. I believe there have also been a few other attempts along the way as well. The crux of the issue is velocity+comprehension.
I don't like magicscroll because of the way the lines scroll down; I find it disconcerting. In the case of Beeline, I can't stand the color scheme.
The goals of both software are admirable and I'd love to see more work in this space, but I don't think either of them have it exactly right. If the designer is on here, consider using an interior design color picker website to find a color scheme that works better than the current one.
In short, this is a problem and it would be valuable to somebody like Amazon if it were polished, IMHO.
Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! There are two reasons that the color scheme on the front page is so bright (and to some folks, ugly).
First, we wanted to make it really obvious what's going on, and if we'd used a subtle color gradient, it wouldn't have been as obvious. We realize that many/most people won't ultimately use the bright color scheme for one reason or another.
The second point is that people perceive color differently, so what is bright to one person may not seem so bright to someone else. There tend to be age-related correlations/causes here--it's why old people tend to wear lots of bright blues. To them, the blues don't look as bright. What we've found is that younger folks tend like the more subtle colors (eyes are more sensitive) and older folks tend to like the brighter colors (because they can't perceive the color difference in the subtle schemes). We anticipate rolling out our product/feature with a color picker palette so that users can choose the right color scheme for their visual physiology.
Thanks again for all the comments and suggestions, and please feel free to email us through the website if you have an app/site that you'd like to use BeeLine with. We have some code that will make integration pretty easy.
I definitely noticed that I could read faster with this. And the colors were super obnoxious, so grayscale was my choice. What I would really appreciate was if it could be done without taking it out of the page I was already on.
I would really appreciate some way for it to automatically do it and not take me to a new page, maybe something I could install into my browser?
I am a voracious reader and I read pretty fast(never measured it though), and this really sped up my reading a lot. That was impressive.
But "patent pending" ? Like someone has already pointed out here, patents like this are destructive and I too hope that it is rejected.
I am dyslexic. I just used the screen reader on the iPhone to read to me the challenge text at full speed. It told me that I read 4% faster with BeeLine on :) apparently the iPhone cares, because I wasn't even looking at the screen.
Insidently, the speak function of iOS is amazing for people with dyslexia. I use it all the time to listen to text at speeds of 300+wpm. I know many of my friends can read at 600+wpm my them selves, but not for a few hours on end. In any case, if you are dyslexic and use iOS, check out the read function under accessibilities.
I could see people licensing this as a mode in apps, that is ... you hit a button and all the text changes to use this color mode to allow you read through things faster. Then you can turn it off if you want to read things a bit more leisurely ... and yes, it did speed up my reading, not sure if that's a placebo effect or actual.
Isn't that why proper typography establishes line width limits and a bit of space between each line? That always made it a lot easier to "know where I was"...when I could see the beginning and end of a line of text without having to move my eyes.
I tried it but it didn't work very well for me. It tries to do some readability-esque stuff and doesn't do a very good job. I'd rather just have the coloring with the rest of the page as -is, which is what my extension does.
A big pet peeve of mine has been the trend to forgo black fonts for lower contrast grey, and it appears this developer is doing that as well (#333 instead of #000 when "Off" is selected). My hunch is that low contrast text (I've even seen medium grey on light grey!) comes from designing on a fantastic display with 100%+ color gamut and great accuracy and viewing angles. Take a phone/tablet/laptop with an average (lousy) LCD into a brightly lit room (or God forbid, outside) and the contrast goes in the toilet. Is black on white that hard?
The other problem I see (mostly on Chrome) is that headings are anti-aliased, but the body text is not. The difference is subtle, but still noticeable.
When speed reading, this doesn't seem particularly effective. Perhaps a dot at the end of the line with a particular color that corresponds to a dot of the same color preceding the following line would be better for those who minimize eye movements.
Installed, tested with a couple of articles. It does the job it claims to do.
A few things: it would be nice to be able to configure the plugin to limit the color variations. I'd like to try with only 2 colors and with less drastic contrasts. I suspect that only a slight transition between two close colors would already be helpful enough for me.
Now, I'm afraid to get used to the crutch and find it harder to read books after. After using vim to edit almost anything, I have developed the bad habit of pressing ctrl-[ to go in normal mode any time I'm in some text editor, be it in the browser, email client, word processor, whatever.
We absolutely plan to make configurable versions available—this is just the first iteration. As for your concern about extended use: the only thing we've heard so far is the precise opposite. People have contacted us to say that they experience a "training effect", so to speak. Apparently reading with the color gradient helps them read in black for some period after. Would love to know how it works for you—feel free to contact through the email address on the website!
I find myself selecting text every now and then to make it easier to read. On the examples on BeeLineReader's website, I was surprised I didn't have to select text to read it.
The examples in the bottom of the page really helped me realize how much this helps. Seriously, I read those paragraphs with the "Bright" theme and then I read them with BeeLineReader disabled ("Off") and I could notice my brain working harder.
I realize it looks ugly as other commenters have posted before, there's probably another method that doesn't make the text look so "ugly".
BIG thanks for not lying to me after I didn't perform any better reading the colored text. I would definitely consider showing the colored text first for some others, and second for others. Once I knew that you were going to ask questions about the text, I became more attentive. Nonetheless, I tried to read as if I didn't know there would be questions afterwards in hopes of not skewing the results.
Once again, thanks for being honest in your test and not convincing me to use something that might not actually help me.
We're in early-stage talks with some companies in the ebook space—DRM obviously forces us to deal with the owners of various walled gardens. We'd love to find a popular, DRM-free, ebook platform. Suggestions welcome!
Is this based on open research or is the idea of gradients over text itself the patent-pending invention?
I'd love to integrate this with my iOS speed-reading app (http://velocireaderapp.com). Any interest in collaborating on a spin-off iOS app, to read, say, DRM-free ePubs? My contact info is in my profile.
1. It'd be very nice if you had a version that tweaks text colors and doesn't touch anything else, i.e. just like on the demo page. When I tested your bookmarklet and it tore up the page I thought something was broken. I only found out that it uses readability because I started digging when it 'broke', you never mention 'readability' in your copy.
2. People will want it enabled by default. You can't do that if you use readability.
It should keep the layout as is, while only adding color, but I have only tested it on wikipedia. The color period is wrong, but it will show you some approximation of how sites will look with a non-interrupting beeline bookmarklet.
I find it awful, as my eyes keep jumping to the color changes, assuming them to indicate some kind of emphasis. Then I have to stop and go, "No, that's not a particularly important word, it's just the Time Cube style they're pushing."
Looking at the text on their site, I suspect (aside from issues like dyslexia) that the real problem is that a lot of people are reading text that's too small and probably has overly-wide lines.
I tried it out for awhile, and it did seem to help me read faster, but I felt like my brain was been strained. If I started doing this all the time, I'm wondering if my brain would freak out reading regular black on white text.
I'm wondering if just adding reference points along the margin or between lines could accomplish the same thing without having to change the text color. Something similar to the tick marks along a graph axis.
I created a (very hacky) style sheet to do this in calibre: https://gist.github.com/osuushi/6456804 . It gets a bit out of alignment when a paragraph wraps to a new column or page, but over all it gets the job done.
Edit: I fixed it to do one color transition per line, like the original.
One tiny bug: in the survey after the reading challenge, I was unable to change the number of hours I read per day. I tried to enter 1.5, but it won't take the decimal and I was unable to backspace to delete the 5.
Overall, a very cool idea, I was surprised to find that I read faster. It said only 3% faster, but I searched for an event mentioned in the first set of text which slowed me down.
Thanks for the feedback! It's not just about speed, it's about reading ease too. We hear great things from people who read while on public transit. All the movement makes line transitions (and staying on the same line in general) more difficult.
I've just learned something about how my own vision works.
Apparently, when I'm reading on screen, somewhere towards the middle of the line, I switch my focus from my left eye to my right. This makes it obvious, because with the color at the end of the line, I switch too soon, and miss the third of the line in the middle.
Possibly this is a consequence of wearing glasses.
I really enjoy using this. While people seem to dislike the red and blue default, I enjoy it. I am not a big fan of the colors working together but I feel like it works the best for it's intended functionality of the choices you made available. I think this might make reading some things considerably more enjoyable for me. Thanks!
Good memory—we have been around for a little while. I waited to do a Show HN until we got the website revamped earlier this summer. The web work was done by a couple of freelancers that I met through a HN freelance post, as it happens. The HN community is awesome, and it's great to bring it full circle!
Personally, I am not a fan of this "reader". The changing color is a distraction to my reading experience. The scheme I found the least distracting was the "Gray" scheme. But, I am not someone who would use it. Interesting concept though - I hadn't thought about it earlier.
I was really surprised to find myself enjoying using this. Great work! Taking the test really emphasised that it's not only faster, it's also "easier" to read. I used the Dark colour scheme, as it was less distracting than the bright default one for me.
I learned to speed read years ago, and this breaks that for me. One of the keys with speed reading is that you don't read every single word. With this I was reading every word. It felt slower and tiring.
The test said that it did not improve my reading but didn't say why.
I don't know about you, but I'm really reading faster. And that's because I'm only reading the red text. I just realized I skipped all the blue content, and don't have a clue if anything useful was written there.
I like this a lot, but unfortunately going to various news sites (NY Times, Slashdot, etc) it seems like the bookmarklet failed or complained it wasn't designed for the home page (in cases where it wasn't a home page).
I find it counterintuitive that this helped experienced readers more. It didn't make a difference for me in their test, and I read constantly. I would suspect this line coloring would help a less experienced reader more.
It is a problem, especially for beginning readers who struggle to comprehend as they're reading and don't have the 'bandwidth' to parse the incorrect sentence and find their place in the text on the fly. Stressful situations (tests, public reading in front of the class, etc) likely make this worse.
I tried their test and had no improvement in reading speed. I also use my mouse to read on a desktop (highlight end of one line and start of the next) as I go, so I think this product is just not made for me.
I could see this working, I tend to read slower with black text maybe because I lose track of where I am during the page. The downside is this hurts my eyes and makes me dizzy because of my computer screen.
Me too, maybe it is the color (blue / red contrast), I know that ~black background with ~white text is an instant trigger for me, always immediately close the tab when I visit such website. Do you see the words kind of "vibrating" when it triggered your migraine?
Oh you're the creator? cool. A word of advice: work out a way to sell this to doctors and other people who need to keep appraised of massive amounts of info. They have the money and the motivation to be your primary customer base.
You could accomplish something like this the same way with a "green bar" style of background. That is, the background of every two (or three... I think two would be better but you could test it) lines having a light green (or blue, or since you mentioned eInk, grey) background and then two lines with a normal white background.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_printer#Paper_.28forms.29_... "The paper was usually perforated to tear into cut sheets if desired and was commonly printed with alternating white and light-green areas, allowing the reader to easily follow a line of text across the page. This was the iconic 'green bar' form that dominated the early computer age. " (emphasis mine)
You can also reduce line transition errors by increasing font size and line spacing. The font in the "What is it" paragraph is, to my eyes, too small and tightly spaced to be easily readable (perhaps purposefully, to demonstrate their value).
I think the line spacing and line length matter more than the font size. With these high-resolution displays, the fonts can be pretty small, and they're still readable, but you then need to make the column narrower and add a couple pixels to the line height.
The original name was Read the Rainbow. Turns out there are still trademarks on Reading Rainbow (also, advisers said the name should communicate the benefit, not the appearance), so we changed it. How funny that your first inclination was the same as mine!
I think it's a great idea. Every technical book should start using it immediately. There's nothing more depressing than cracking opening a computer book that 500 pages of block typing. I've never known how you guys get through some of those phone books?
Hmmm. Is it possible to try this: Make a version that creates a black to grey gradient for every sentence. The beginning of every sentence starts out black and gradually turns grey at the end of the sentence. Then try it switched. Make it start grey and turn black. Test both.
Just wondering what the result would be. Out of curiosity.