My latest column for Mobile magazine is about "rapid serial visual presentation" (RSVP for short, which displays text one word at a time on a phone or handheld screen.
When I first tried RSVP reading, I felt overwhelmed. The words flashed on the screen to the beat of an unheard drum. I felt out of control. I couldn't pause and reflect after reading a sentence. But after five minutes or so, I got used to the ocular assault, and my mind seemed to shift into a different gear. By letting go, the words started flowing smoothly into my head. Because my eyes weren't shifting back and forth as they normally do when reading, everything but the words themselves faded away, and I found that I was actually enjoying the experience.
Reader comment: Chris says: "Saw your posting regarding RSVP reading on BB and thought you might find this interesting. RSVP is a standard type of presentation used by cognitive psychologists (I'm at UCLA doing work like this). One interesting phenomenon revealed by RSVP is repetition blindness: decreased memory for a second presentation of a repeated item (e.g., in the sentence: They wanted to play sports but sports were not allowed) in an RSVP stream at rapid rates (usually about 150 ms/word or faster). I don't know the rates in the messaging systems, but it seems that this type of presentation creates interesting possibilities for miscommunication."
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