Adapting reading style to material

Recently I was asked a strange question “How do you read something you are not interested in remembering?”. Originally I dismissed the question as unreasonable, but after some analysis I decided that the question is very good and deserves a proper response. When constructed this course we focus on people reading the material in order to remember all details. We develop a strong methodology that allows us to remember even the most trivial and boring details in the most trivial and boring text. However, most of us most of the time do not need this. The reading could serve many purposes, and our strategy adapted accordingly.

Lack of interest. If we read something that is boring we can use very technical approach of generating and linking markers in order to retain the information. The information generates some sort of puzzle, that does not really allow us to use it outside of the scope of the specific document. This is not very useful if you need to use the stuff creatively, but can make you pass an exam, a presentation or a meeting with clients.

Searching for information. Most of the time I sift through lots of information to find needles of useful articles that I want to actually remember. I speedread titles and articles at 3000 wpm or more, opening dozens of tabs in my browser. I link some of the details I find during this skimming using my hyperlinking technique, but the retention is poor. After a while I end up with 5-8 articles that I really want to understand, and reread them slowly, at 1000 wpm so that I remember every cool detail. The slow speed also allows me to prepare the article for further analysis creating many links to various details.

Trying to remember. Occasionally the details are so juicy that I want to remember them 100%, I want to feel them and to play with them in my imagination. Then after I finis reading a section, I stop and use high-level visualization to remember everything.

Reading for fun. When reading for fun we vary our speed from paragraph to paragraph. Usually it is important to remember not the particular details, but our feelings while reading the text or the music of the words chosen by the author. Typically the marker is our feeling, and the details are various facts and words that appear in the text. Often we use the rhythmic structure of the text to double encode the information. After all, when we read for fun, we can afford to slow down.

Please feel free to challenge me with other reasons to read and styles of reading. I will try to answer. If the answer is too long, I will write another post.

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