Point/Counterpoint is a recurring feature on BDCwire which explores the pros and cons of various parts of life in Boston. These arguments may, or may not, break any new ground, but are meant as a starting point for you too to make an argument.
This week’s debate is over the Boston-based app Spritz. Spritz, founded by three entrepreneurs, uses a new speed-reading technology that “puts words exactly where your brain wants them to be located,” AKA flashing on a screen one after another in the same spot, rather than forcing you read in a linear fashion. They claim that the technology helps keep the readers attention, increases comprehension, and makes reading itself a much faster process. College-cramming “Sparknotes” hounds may love it, classic bibliophiles may despise it. What do you think? Are you pro-Spritz or anti-Spritz?
Cara Bayles, arguing against Spritz
Spritz claims that by streaming text one flickering word at a time, it can teach you to consume a novel in 90 minutes. Well, if you think the goal of literature is high velocity, you’re doing it wrong. One of the great pleasures of reading a book is your control over the experience—re-reading an elegant or complex passage, stopping to appreciate a lyrical phrase, allowing your mind to wander, or, you know, blinking occasionally. The company’s “About” statement on its website shows the Boston-based startup doesn’t really care about language; they self-identify as “serial entrepreneurs with extensive experience in developing and commercializing innovative technologies.” (Huh?) Sure, the Internet and speed-reading have their place (especially for the technical non-language quoted above), but not everything that’s analog is broken. Spritz is operating under the assumption that we want all entertainment spat into our eyeballs A Clockwork Orange-style, instead of doing the important brainwork of slowing down and chewing on an idea or a phrase. That’s just wrong.
Jerard Fagerberg, arguing in support of Spritz
Okay, this is the part where all the ink-and-paper stalwarts rise from their dusty holes to decry the next coming of the Apocalypse. Listen, changing paradigms are a good thing. People have been reading from books for the past billion years, so it’s about time the whole words/eyeball interface got a makeover. Reading is fatiguing and inefficient. Spritz would allow users to consume literature more quickly and easily, which is an implication I think you’d have a hard time arguing against. Moreover, Spritz’s masterminds are locals, and anything that brings Boston to the forefront of innovation is a win for everyone – you know, we get a bit of a bad rap for being a bunch of uptight Puritans. So, for once, let’s try to embrace the future before we burn this forward-thinking app at the stake.