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While the first reason is a personal matter, I would like to discuss the reading issue because I think I'm not the only one who ever thaught "can't this go faster".

I've seen books that go something like this:
"Fast Reading: Max reading speed with minimal effort"
"Photo Reading: New method blah blah blah reading up to 25000 words a minute
Never having read such a book because the ones I looked at seemed to me a bit dubious, I was wondering if any of you have actually succeded with any of those methods in increasing your reading speed.

What methods do exist, which work, pointers to information? What I'm asking myself most about those "Fast Reading" methods is if there is any scientific backing. If the methods were as succesful as authors of those books claim them to be, why is most of the population still reading at a slow speed (I'm a making a wrong assumption here?) Please enligthen me. Thanks for the discussion.


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How to cope with Information Overload? | 50 comments (48 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Pratice make perfect (3.40 / 5) (#1)
by mpenza on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 01:48:54 PM EST

I have always been told by other people that I read fast. While I have no idea how fast I do read, it seems that I read books, web pages, etc much faster than others. My secret: PRACTICE. IMHO, there is no quick secret to reading fast, just the more frequently you read, the faster you get at it.

Quick reading. (4.00 / 2) (#4)
by clarioke on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 02:14:17 PM EST

I'm a fast reader, too; I always finish my page first when sharing the newspaper. But you have to define fast. There is fast reading and there is skimming the page and there is reading-the-first-sentence-of-every-paragraph. Skimming the page takes no time, gives you a general idea as to where the writer is going. Fast reading is recommended in school, but reading teh first sentence of every paragraph is how to get through those exceedingly dull, dry documents in school.

So you ask how to go about reading faster. Sure, practice, but practice seeing whole sentences instead of individual words, seeing words in groups, seeing the whole sentence instead of a lot of letters.

[ Parent ]

Ditto (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by {ice}blueplazma on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 03:02:05 PM EST

People tell me all the time that I can read really fast. I don't know how or why I can do this. I just can. I think that some people can read really fast and others slower. Its just like some people are natural at playing a sport.

However, the more you read the faster you get. So if you read a book a week you will improve the speed and comprehension at which you read. However, some people just can't read fast, some can. It's a fact of life. Some people are good at one thing and others are good at other things.

"Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
--Jimmy Fallon
[ Parent ]
1000 pages == 8 hours (none / 0) (#36)
by spiralx on Thu Oct 26, 2000 at 08:29:04 AM EST

Or thereabouts for a book I'm interested in and is well written. I've been reading 10 books a week since I was about 5, and I've always read very quickly.

Non-fiction usually takes a bit longer than fiction to read I've found, and as the amount of technical detail increases so does the time it takes to read and understand, but even then I can read the whole thing quickly to get an overview and know where to sit down and spend some time getting a real understanding whilst I'm practising those skills.

This isn't a good thing all the time though, I end up reading far too many books, which means I either get them out of a public library or buy them, which gets rather expensive after a while. Or I end up reading some of the 1000+ books sitting in my room again (and again...). Sometimes I think it'd be nice to read a bit slower and not run out of reading material so quickly, but once I've picked a book up I can't wait to get stuck in :)

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Try the Vortex reader (3.60 / 5) (#3)
by redelm on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 01:58:59 PM EST

I'm very impressed by Cliff High's Vortex machine-assisted reading. It flashes words in very large font one-at-a-time into a window. Reading rate is adjustable, but it's easy to read much faster. The experience isn't perfect (pausing is tough), but the net effect is very good. I can read approx 4x faster when I want/need to read the whole thing. Useless for skimming ,which is alot of my reading these days.

Unfortunately not available for *IX AFAIK, but there is evaluation software at http://www.vallier.com/tenax/vortex.html .

Reading Course (3.75 / 4) (#5)
by crashman on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 02:14:24 PM EST

My High School (Grand Blanc, Mi) offered a course that I took called Developmental Reading way back in 1980. It taught you how to increase reading speed with a corresponding increase in comprehension. I found the course very beneficial. It used a machine that only showed part of the text at a time and moved through the entire text. After reading the text a comprehension test was given by the machine. If you scored well enough on the test the machine sped up and the shutter got larger. This taught how to read more than one word at a time, eventually you could read lines, paragraphs, even pages at a time! If this is the method used in these books, it would work out well. Of course this was over 20 years ago, so there may have been improvements made in the process. Being able to "speed read" has definatly helped me in most areas of my life (school, jobs, pleasure reading, etc...). I don't have any information on the books mentioned so I can't comment on their effectiveness. I would suggest checking out the local schools (community college, continuing education, etc...) to see if they offer a course like I took. If they don't it would well worth the investment of time and money to check out something like the Evelyn Wood type classes available. Good Luck!!

Evelyn Woods (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by crashman on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 10:39:17 PM EST

Evelyn Woods is a company here in the US that teaches speed reading. I've never been to one of their courses but I have talked to people that benefitted from them. They have learning centers in almost all large cities.

[ Parent ]
Software? (4.00 / 3) (#16)
by CYwolf on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 04:21:31 PM EST

I haven't seen this done yet, but I actually had the idea a couple months ago.
What about software which accepted some ascii text and presented it to you in sections, automatically advancing at specific intervals, even shrinking the intervals over time to train you?
Little things like filtering unimportant words or some punctuation (replacing commas with extra delay?) could be very useful in speeding up the reading process.

[ Parent ]
Is speed always effective? (3.00 / 3) (#8)
by greyrat on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 02:51:37 PM EST

I don't know. Although I agree with much of what has been said here for increasing speed, is it useful beyond the news and technical manuals? I don't imagine Rudyard Kipling or Lewis Carol or C.S. Lewis being handled very well a page at a time. Sometimes the sentence structure is so convoluted that what I get from a careful reading versus a page scan can be radically different. And I think my kids prefer me to put all the characters emotion into every word.

How about slowing down and enjoying what's on the page for a change...
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Okay: (4.00 / 6) (#9)
by tzanger on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 02:53:37 PM EST

How many of you found yourselves conscious of how fast you were reading the comments? :-)

I dunno... (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by Dr Caleb on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 12:10:16 AM EST

I just kind of skimmed it. ;-)

Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

One step further.... (3.33 / 3) (#13)
by ramses0 on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 03:30:45 PM EST

(I wanted to make this an editorial comment, but the story is good enough that I'm sure it will get posted anyway)

Something that's interesting to point out is that you're considering "jacking in" in order to absorb information faster.

I know exactly what you're talking about- I'd love to have ages of time to read all the comments here on K5, but as it stands, I only read the comments on a few stories, and post even less.

The reason I'd like to read more (and it sounds like this is similar to your situation) is that reading this stuff gives me pleasure, it's something that I enjoy.

Bringing this back around to the cultural implications of fast-reading/jacking in:

You say you want to read faster so you can enjoy more? The information on K5 is already in digital, easily parseable format, right?

Why do we (as a culture) need to read that information with eyes? We could have some sort of HUD-glasses which scroll information at the bottom of computer screens. I used to think that it was impossible to absorb information presented in that manner, but sitting with a friend watching ESPN, his ability to notice information in thier popup scrollers at the bottom is uncanny.

Since information transmitted in that manner is almost subliminal anyway, how is that different from a little plug in the back of the head, or a plug in the ear, that transmits information to you continuously?

I think there was a "New Twilight Zone" episode that I once saw (maybe not Twilight Zone, but some tv show that was in color, and was eerie). This episode explored a world where everybody was constantly connected (wirelessly) to "the net", except for this one main character whose body wouldn't accept the implant or something. Basically people forgot how to read because all the information was being transmitted to them electronically somehow.

How would something like *that* affect culture?

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

Have you read _Signal to Noise_? (none / 0) (#21)
by El Volio on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 07:28:07 PM EST

I'm reading this right now (written by Eric Nylund). It's another book in this genre he dubs "hyperpunk", most definitely along the same lines as Snow Crash. One of the book's central themes is the blurring of the distinction between 'reality' and 'virtual reality'; at times, you have to stop and be sure where the characters are, and it's still not always clear. Has to do with neural implants that not only communicate with each other and an Internet on steroids and acid, but actually communicate the subconscious thoughts and emotions of the users. Freaky stuff... And there are a few more negatives to this system in the book than just social rejection.

That said, the only reason I haven't started trying to fiddle with some of these gargoyle-style wearable computers was an absolute edict from my wife...

[ Parent ]

Reviews of Signal to Noise, A Signal Shattered (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by Sunir on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 01:58:02 AM EST

I have reviewed Signal to Noise and the sequel, A Signal Shattered. I tried to put them into the larger context of (online) culture as well.

I really liked both of them, by the way.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

You're not dreaming (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by tzanger on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 04:41:56 PM EST

I think there was a "New Twilight Zone" episode that I once saw (maybe not Twilight Zone, but some tv show that was in color, and was eerie). This episode explored a world where everybody was constantly connected (wirelessly) to "the net", except for this one main character whose body wouldn't accept the implant or something. Basically people forgot how to read because all the information was being transmitted to them electronically somehow.

I was just thinking of that show but I too have forgotten what it is... The gist of it was the "server" (humanity's consciousness I guess) wanted to control the people and gradually got control via that interface... there was some kind of informaiton overload "virus" that people died from when they started thinking against the system. In the end the kid got them to read some kind of passage which shut down the collective consciousness... and then he started teaching them how to read.

I wish I could throw a 1G SDRAM DIMM in my head and be done with this shitty memory I have. :-)

[ Parent ]
Show plot summary (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by Sunir on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 01:54:13 AM EST

The show was Outer Limits. The man was an orphan with a brain defect that prevented the neural implant from working. His guardian was a professor, if I recall correctly, so as a boy the man learnt that knowledge was important. Consequently, he learnt to read. He read constantly.

Anyway, he naturally was discriminated against because he could not keep up with the rest of society, being limited to book learning. He did read very fast, but it still was insufficient. Indeed, in a good scene, the target of his crush downloads a thick novel he was reading in 30 seconds and then she proceeds to ruin it for him.

At any rate, near the 45 minute sweat spot, the episode introduces the Plot Twist: the 'net fails (forget why). Consequently, everyone is without Information and they are all Disconnected. Very heavy stuff (for television).

Unfortunately, since everyone has grown up with direct connections to knowledge bases, no one bothered to learn how to read. This puts the information society into a bit of a conundrum.

But our hero saves the day by teaching people how to read, finding his place in society, quickly earning respect and the love of his amour.

I'm sad that I know that. Weirder still, I've only seen two episodes of the Outer Limits.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

Whoa! (none / 0) (#34)
by AgentGray on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 05:18:37 PM EST

I know kung-fu!

[ Parent ]
I feel ya' (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by judges1617 on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 03:54:55 PM EST

I've learned that some people just read faster then others. Myself personally, how fast I read depends a lot on what I'm reading. I'm sure that everything that I read through out the day, could probably be read in an hour or two, but I like to read and re-read stuff, let it soak in a little, then maybe read it a third time.

If I'm just doing some pleasure reading, I can knock out a 500 page paperback in a little over 3 hours. And even though I consider most everything I read a pleasure, it's the content I want to absorb, and therefore I read it a little differently.

Don't try to read more faster... (4.00 / 4) (#18)
by itsbruce on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 04:52:56 PM EST

Read less. What you need to do is learn how to filter more ruthlessly, ignore what you don't need, cut down on the number of things you try and do at once.

I'm a recovering information junkie. I only reply to k5 stories that I really have something thought out to say. I don't keep on coming back to see what's changed. I've cut down the mailing lists to a half dozen of the quieter and/or most necessary - same with the newsgroups. k5 stays in my daily reads but Slashdot goes (not such a hard choice, actually)

I do no more than 2 things at a time (reinstalling a PC at one desk, reading my work e-mail at another). If anybody throws anything else at me it goes to the back of the queue. If I can't get it done by 6 I do it tomorrow - if it's Friday it waits till Monday

At home, I turn the TV off to read the paper with a coffee. I don't start watching that new SF series on TV because I don't have the time to keep up with it and I already have too much appointment TV in my life.

All in all, by doing less I get more done and get more out of it. And I feel better.

But you admit to being swamped by the information and you think the cure is to cram more in. Serious habit you have there.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
*burp* (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by itsbruce on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 07:38:27 PM EST

Anyhow as the subject line says, it's not about craming in more stuff it's about craming in the same amount faster
Yes, I got that...
so I can be finished more quickly.
... you'll only get mental indigestion. I'm prepared to bet that any speed reading technique will cut down on the percentage of your mental resources given to considering what you are reading as you read it. This will only mean more to do once you've read it.

Besides, history clearly shows that all successes in doing things faster inevitably result in us just doing more - or going further - in the same amount of time;)


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Less is more. (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by AgentGray on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 05:13:35 PM EST

I have to agree. I only watch two shows on television: Voyager and X-Files. In two years I won't even have that.

I would visit slashdot, K5, E2, and Bluesnews almost daily. It was too much. Addiction set in. I would even check it on my lunch break. I had reached an all-time low when I wrote a script to auto-refresh my browsers on the four sites every three minutes.

It was pretty bad.

I'm more inclined to thought provoking discussion, so I stuck with K5. It is the only site I check daily (as in once). Sure, I still check out Bluesnews, E2, and /. every now and then. E2 and /. have an email feature that sends you the latest headlines. If I see something interesting, I'll go to it. However, that is getting more and more rare. I pretty much forgot Bluesnews altogether. (I really wasn't playing any games, so what's the difference).

Now, I have more time to finish projects and reach personal goals. I've cut my daily online time down from 5+ hours to <1 hour. That is even including email.

I've got more time for my wife, reading good books, modeling (airplanes, you pervs), and many other such endeavors.

I just recently finished a good online (I read it offline) book called The Satori Effect. It gives an intereting twist on what information overload could do to a person. Neat stuff.

[ Parent ]
Weblog Addiction (4.50 / 6) (#19)
by interiot on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 05:45:45 PM EST

Or, the other side of the coin: how does one read less?

I almost feel like Slashdot or Kuro5hin reading is an addiction. If I don't spend time reading it, I'm afraid I'll miss the the next big intellectual insight to our modern dilemas or miss the latest slashdot quickie or...

And it's very possibly cutting into my productivity at work.

Is anyone else experiencing this, or is it just me?

Well... (2.00 / 1) (#29)
by gawi on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 02:44:39 AM EST

We are at least two to suffer from that. ;-)

-- Are you in denial?
[ Parent ]

The answer (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by AgentGray on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 05:17:25 PM EST

Get up and walk away.

Uninstall your browsers.

Set your email to check every 30-60 minutes instead of every minute.

Do something to make you have to work harder to get to the sites (see above).

Trust me, you'll thank yourself in the end.

[ Parent ]
Book-lust (none / 0) (#46)
by linklater on Thu Nov 02, 2000 at 05:42:23 AM EST

You are not alone in your dilemma. I normally get into work around 9am (I'm a video game programmer), but I don't start 'real' work until around 10:30-11:00. By the time K5 and /. are done and I check 2600 and a few other sites I'm far too distracted with what's happening to get much work done before lunch.

My other bad habit is buying too many books - problem is that my purchasing speed is far quicker than my reading speed - hence the ever growing pile of pristine books cluttering up my apartment 8).. As for reading speed - mine depends on what I'm reading. If it's a trashy novel then I can blitz through it pretty quickly. OTOH I need to really take my time with anything that I want to learn from and remember (technical stuff etc.). It's not my eyes that are slowing me down, it's my brain 8(...

Quick link for avid readers - free books at: Digital Library at UPENN.
---- 'Who dares not speak his free thought is a slave.' - Euripides
[ Parent ]

Book-lust, the opposite problem (none / 0) (#47)
by rusty on Thu Nov 02, 2000 at 08:09:06 AM EST

I have the same book buying "problem" as you, but the other way around. My reading speed far outstrips my buying rate. I'm constantly finding myself bookless at 3AM. Now, in DC that was no problem, because I could walk down the street to Kramerbooks, which is open till some ungodly hour like 5AM. But now I'm in San Francisco, where everything apparently closes at 9PM, dammit. At least I'm near a good bookstore now, anyway, even if it does close it's doors way too soon.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
I can't deal with it (4.20 / 10) (#25)
by mami on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 11:31:05 PM EST

I do think that reading slashdot, kuro5hin, technical/political mailing lists, any news of technical/scientific nature for nerds is addictive and a problem, though one, which most people love to have.

To qualify as a geek, expert, guru or so, you have to know the latest and greatest and most probably you want to know, because you love it. If you have a "heart" for the Open Source/Free Software movement and some political passions on top of that, the stage is set. You are going to read and read and read and...possibly you are going to argue... and post and post and post...all the way doing that you get. ..a lesser and lesser and lesser knowledgable expert.

The discussion about how speed reading might be helpful is cute. It's not a solution IMHO, it's a band aid or a tylenol for something which should give you some headaches.

I have dealt with information overload when I worked as a sort of assistant researcher to news wire service correspondents who needed information within minutes. For six years I read diagonally through tons of newspapers, wire service ticker stories and absorbed CNN, Bloomberg news round the clock etc for a living without having the task (permission) to process information and write out a story with the info I gathered. I passed the info preprocessed through to other people, whose task it was to write as precise, fast and short as they could. None of them was able to speed read (it's a very American thingy too), nor to touch type, by the way.

What I discovered is that the only thing which saves you to get completely lost reading and absorbing informatiion, is to be forced to process the info you gather in a product of its own , i.e. being forced to write something (under pressure) about what you have read. Clearly, hard core correspondents and journalists who write for wire services (normally less than thirty minutes to produce a story from various sources) are all news junkies, but not addicted to reading, because they are too involved in the process of writing as their main task and goal.

I discover now similar things with regardis to online news and mailing list reading in the IT field. My observation is the same and comparable to my observations in the news office of wire services.

The people among the IT professionals which are the least prone to get addicted to reading things like slashdot et al. are the specialized experts who really write a lot of code under some sort of pressure. If you are an expert and work on a coding project you are interested in and of which you make a living, the reading becomes targeted and necessary with a clear focus on a task or problem you want to solve. Most of them can clearly balance the amount of reading which is necessary to get a job done and the amount of reading they allow themselves for pleasure. My feeling is that the first generation and old guard of Unix gurus are not the one who get addicted, it's the young student crowd who does.

I personally am grateful for another format of "online" educational reading material: Not the one, which gathers technical news and put them up for discussion by the readers, but the ones, which write technical shorter tutorials on a regualar basis, apachetoday, oreillynet, linuxnewbie, rootprompt etc.

Basically, I can't deal with the overload. In order to learn, I have to log off, read, write code and try it out.... Hmm, this post doesn't seem to indicate I am going to be able to do just that, .........................................help !!!

Practice makes perfect (2.50 / 2) (#30)
by h2odragon on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 05:15:01 AM EST

...well, better, anyway. As with most things.

I can read faster than anyone I've ever met, and have to be really hurrying before missing anything significant. itsbruce's comment about "mental indigestion" applies; if I'm reading something that requires thought I slow way down. Wonderful way of expressing the idea, I'm going to use that phrase extensively from now on...

Partly I attribute my reading speed to a near terminal book habit of 18 years. I've always got at least one book that I'm reading now, usually within reach, and it's a rare day that I don't spend at least an hour reading. Better than 2/3rds of my school time must have been spent paying attention to a book rather than whatever class I was in.

If you want to improve your reading speed I suggest finding a few books you like well enough to read reapeatedly, and doing just that. I've probably gone through the hobbit books over 1,000 times; my current set is the 5th, and is nearing shuffle-ablility. Mostly that's becuase I just like those books and only own so many, but the first set I sacrificed to a directed effort to make myslef read faster.

When I got that set as a gift at a tender young age, I decided I liked this reading stuff, but it took too much time. So for about 6 months, I guess it was, I read nothing but those 4 books, trying to actually read every word but as fast as I could. It worked. I stopped putting real effort into speed when I was doing one a day, which was probably about 4-6 hours dedicated to reading with school and other real life stuff intruding whenever. I'm not as fast on first read as on subsequent passes, whatever the material, but the excerise made a noticeable difference almost immediately.

Speed? (none / 0) (#41)
by caine on Fri Oct 27, 2000 at 04:31:36 PM EST

Hmm..I have the same thing, that I read faster than anyone I've met. I can plane out on about 1 page on 10-15 seconds, in a book like Lord of the Rings. And that's in english (which is not my mothertounge). How fast can you manage?


[ Parent ]

fast enough (none / 0) (#42)
by h2odragon on Sat Oct 28, 2000 at 02:35:04 AM EST

the last time I bothered to figure a number it was something over 1,000 WPM; that was light reading but my first crack at it... I was reading someone's first book to tell them what I thought of it, it was horrible beyond words so I was aware of the time and it had a word count. Reading is a timeless activity for me, so I generally don't notice or care...

I speak 'mercin only, I wouldn't want to guess how long it'd take me to gain enough proficency reading a different language to feel comfortable.

I probably should have also mentioned that I'm not what you'd call a social animal, so the number of people I've met doesn't constitute a fair statistical sample of the population.

[ Parent ]

Hmm (none / 0) (#43)
by caine on Sat Oct 28, 2000 at 07:18:40 AM EST

Ok, was just curious, since you hear about people capable of extreme speeds, but I've never met anyone. It's of little use anyway most at the times, since fiction you want to enjoy properly, so I slow down anyway, and educational books should be read in a speed which enables one to learn what's in the book too. =) Never bothered to know exactly how many words per minute I can read.


[ Parent ]

How I Deal with It (3.40 / 5) (#31)
by titivillus on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 11:15:27 AM EST

If it is K5 and Slashdot that are your problem, this is a solution I use. I wrote perl scripts that pull down the RSS data and parse it, then put 'em into headlines on a web page. What this gains me is the ability to scan headlines without having to go to the site. If the headlines don't call me, I don't go.

My page for this is here. The code is available. I hope this helps.

Neat-O (none / 0) (#35)
by AgentGray on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 05:25:38 PM EST

Cool stuff. I wish I had something like that when I was addicted. :)

I'm curious. How many times a day do you check the site?

I guess you could use a cookie method that keeps the headlines on there until you view the portal page.

That way you could visit it once and be sure you get all the headlines.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#37)
by titivillus on Thu Oct 26, 2000 at 10:46:41 AM EST

Cool stuff. I wish I had something like that when I was addicted. :)

There's lots of stuff going around that possibly wasn't there when you were addicted. For example, RSS and other XML syndications. I would've mentioned Meerkat and my.Userland, but my experience says that you spend too much time specifying what you don't want to see to see what you do.

I'm curious. How many times a day do you check the site?

The crontab that updates it runs once an hour, so no need to do more than that. Sometimes I even let it run two hours without reading it. B)

I guess you could use a cookie method that keeps the headlines on there until you view the portal page.

That's too complicated. The first thing to learn if you're fighting information overload is that sometimes it is fine to let headlines roll over without knowing. All the sidebars are dynamically-included static files, generated once an hour. I do have Mozilla Sidebar pages of an expanded set of sites, so you use cool stuff on a cool browser, without having to see my rantings. I should write something that takes a URL of an RSS and makes a sidebar panel out of it.

[ Parent ]
Plug Plug Plug: Radio Userland (none / 0) (#44)
by Demona on Tue Oct 31, 2000 at 04:10:55 PM EST

Regardless of your opinion of Dave Winer, his Radio Userland is one nifty program. Think a smart playlist editor and interface for your music player, with a powerful engine under the hood that uses open formats to let you script, outline, publish webpages/weblogs in the most no-brainer way, and (to bring this back on topic), import RSS/RDF/etc as an outline like all the other data and metadata. Unfortunately, it only exists currently for the Mac and Windows platforms, but I still strongly recommend that both users and developers give it a whirl.

[ Parent ]
even better (none / 0) (#48)
by jwilkins on Fri Nov 03, 2000 at 03:27:19 PM EST

I also hacked some perl to do this and about a week later discovered http://www.geekboys.org

it has tons of sites, all nicely arranged.. I highly recommend it..

[ Parent ]

Other Techniques (none / 0) (#49)
by titivillus on Sat Nov 04, 2000 at 04:06:35 PM EST

Use cron, LWP and something like MD5 to make something that watches sites and checks for diffs. There's spyonit.com, which I use, but if there's changing headers and footers around the text, you can Regex 'em out to just get content.

[ Parent ]
I should also say ... (2.00 / 1) (#38)
by titivillus on Thu Oct 26, 2000 at 10:48:41 AM EST

that it runs on Perl, Solaris and Apache. I can do neat things through Perl, my language which strengthens me. Look in "About" for source.

Two absurdly simple things work for me: (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by error 404 on Thu Oct 26, 2000 at 12:52:36 PM EST

On web stuff, anyway.
  1. Narrower browser windows Moving the eyes from side to side takes longer than you think. Much quicker and less fatiguing to scroll downward.
  2. Larger fonts My 40-year old eyes can handle the dinky fonts that get used so often lately, but it is an effort. Big fonts are easier. Again, less fatigue and more speed. Designers like tiny fonts because you can fit more in the $$ first page. And there is a perception that big fonts are childish or unprofessional. Bullshit.
I just use the zoom function on Opera and resize my window to a comfortable width.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Eye speed (none / 0) (#40)
by caine on Fri Oct 27, 2000 at 04:26:28 PM EST

You can train your eye muscles like all other muscles. Begin by quickly passing from extreme right to extreme left and back some 20 times. Then close your eyes, and roll the eye from bottom left to bottom right, opening the eye lid in the middle. Do this about 20 times too. Repeat several times a day. Thought most people perhaps don't want to go to such extremes. I'm just a braindamaged Kung Fu freak ;).


[ Parent ]

Kind of ... selfish, perhaps (none / 0) (#45)
by goosedaemon on Wed Nov 01, 2000 at 06:55:29 PM EST

I rely on other geeks for important news, somewhat. Sometimes I do it myself, but...

Info overload -> decrease the throttle (none / 0) (#50)
by Bozovision on Sun Nov 05, 2000 at 01:06:47 PM EST

First - recognize that there is no end to the info you want to read. Finished reading K5 and Slashdot, is there anything new on (shameless plug) Tangled Time. Finished that, right, you haven't seen what's happening in the arcane sub-world of Japanese pet chameleon championships.

Once you realize this, and that you fundementally are not going to change the rate at which you process info, it's obvious that you need to limit the input. Here are some strategies:

  • Accept that you can't and won't know everything.
  • Only look at news sources after 4.00pm. I'm freshest in the morning - I use the time that my brain works best for thinking work. Later on I do less demanding stuff.
  • Prioritise. Which is most important to you? Follow some sort of rough schedule. There are some sites I only bother looking at quarterly.
  • Only look at the *really* interesting stuff. There is no end to knowledge. Therefore only bother with the interesting and important stuff.

How to cope with Information Overload? | 50 comments (48 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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