The Apocalypse Is Here. Now Calm Down.

I recently noted with interest a new reading technology/app that is about to be rolled out. The technology is called Spritz. I also noted with interest some of the responses to it — as in, “won’t be long now, one more clean shirt, o tempora, o mores . . .”

This spritzing technology enables you to read books, articles, and so forth, one word at a time, and it feeds you those words in a way that is positioned just right, so that your eyeballs don’t have to waste the majority of your reading time looking for a place to land on the line. In that way, you can adjust the reading speed to suit you — 300 words per minute, for example, and up.

Now I want to grant at the outset that there would be ways to use a technology like this that would be perfectly appalling. Faster is not necessarily better, as the guy who took his wife out for their anniversary dinner at the McDonalds drive-through recently discovered.

Having acknowledged so much — and cheerfully — here is why I am willing to try this thing out. And by “try it out” I do not mean that I am on the hunt for a new way of reading all my stuff. But it does seem like a reasonable way to supplement my reading. There could easily be some things that I would want to read this way — I can think of at least two examples. Having thought of them, I have decided to share them with you.

The first would be to create time for myself to read things that I otherwise would not have read at all. Every choice to read necessarily involves a cost/benefit analysis. Some printed material falls on one side of the line if it would take me an hour, but on this side of the line if it would only take me twenty minutes. This technology can expand your margins.

This is comparable to the way e-books have worked. E-books are not competing with books; they are competing with paperbacks. E-books are the new consumption item, and they have expanded the realm of such consumption books. There are some books I wouldn’t buy in hardback, which I might or might not buy in paperback, and which I would buy in an e-version. It is the same kind of thing here. There are some articles I wouldn’t buy a magazine to read, I might or might not read it online, and which I would definitely read if I could do it while standing in line at the post office. The question for the reading purists is whether it would be better to not read such an article at all than to read it that way.

Another promising area is in the reading of Scripture. I have read the Bible many times, and for some years have been working with various ways to keep it from being like a stretch of road I have driven countless times. I recall one time when I was driving to Coeur d’Alene, and coming to the realization that I did not remember driving through Tensed at all. I also knew, as a matter of basic geography, that I had to have driven through Tensed. Reading just one version of  the Bible can be like that — which is why I use the KJV as my base translation, but alter it up a bit regularly. I am currently finishing up my first read-through of the ESV, and then it will be back to King Jimmy. I have also made a point of listening to the Bible on audio — the Word of God gets into me, but it is routed through a different part of my brain entirely. I want every part of the brain that can be exposed to God’s Word to get exposed to God’s Word. Who knows what spritzing the book of Romans might do? The key will be if I notice things I had never noticed before. If I do, and I go back and search out that particular truth more carefully, who could be against that? Is this a substitute for careful, deliberate reading of Scripture? Of course not. Could it be a judicious supplement? Of course.

And last, there is this observation. Thus far, the growth of new reading technologies and devices has only enhanced my ability to read in the traditional way. I don’t see why this couldn’t easily fall in the same category, and am at least willing to give it a whirl around the block.

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James RaymentRespectabiggleDouglas WilsonTim MulletAndrew Lohr Recent comment authors

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Johnny Simmons
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If you’ve never copied out a book of Scripture into a notebook, I highly recommend that too. Deuteronomy is the obvious choice since that’s where the idea comes from.

Giovanni Maresia
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Giovanni Maresia

Funny then how the things we may end up reading this way with profit would be the forgettable and the sublime.

Matt
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Matt

I’m betting that if a technology like this proves ‘successful’, we’ll be the worse for it.  There will be exceptions, of course.  I see many folks following along with the pastor on iPhone/iPad, but I’m not convinced its gotten us – the Church – as much benefit as we believe it has.   The idea that a contemporary soul could read Romans for an hour from a leather-bound Bible isn’t easy to imagine, but possible fighting away the human distractions, internal and external.  The idea that the same contemporary soul could read Romans for an hour from an iPad with… Read more »

jbrown
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jbrown

TENSED?  When my wife was growing up, her father pastored a small Village Mission Church in Tensed.  Are you sure it still exists?

Andrew Lohr
Member

Mostly irrelevant here but too good not to share:  ‘Postmodernism is a cover-up for the failure of the French to write an interesting novel since…Camus.’  From Jonah Goldberg at National Review, I think quoting the jibe. 
If you’ll take it, here’s the link (4 page article, mostly fun to read):  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/373397/quote-unquote-presidency-jonah-goldberg/page/0/3
 

Tim Mullet
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Tim Mullet

I think I have a more positive view of technology than others.  An app on my phone allows me to listen to the Bible at 2x speed.  In general, I have found that I can listen to the narrative sections at around 2x speed and I have to slow it down a little in other genres like epistles.  The same thing is true for sermons.  The subject matter determines speed and retention.  I can not imagine why it would be a bad thing to take advantage of technology in this way.  What is wrong with being able to listen to… Read more »

Respectabiggle
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Respectabiggle

One key thing I’ve noticed in the demo of this tool is that you have to be paying very close  attention.  If you drift off  to look at something else on the page, you’re going to be lost very quickly.
This leads me to believe that Spritz will be most valuable for intentional reading, not casual browsing.

James Rayment
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James Rayment

Any leap in technology always has its pitfalls, the printing press gave us the Bible available to everyone, but it also gave us Russell Brand’s autobiography.
Here’s what I know, through technology I have easier access to the Bible than I have ever had before, if I want to share a scripture, it’s easier than ever before. If I want to give a Bible to a Muslim without him getting caught, it’s easier than ever before.
I listen in through the Christ Church app, it’s only through technology that I would have ever heard Pastor Doug’s preaching.