You should read deeper. Not faster!

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Paul wrote: Your suggestion to read faster is misguided. My advice: Don't learn to read faster, or don't try to read more. Read more substantial texts that are not repetitive and are deep.


Your suggestion is correct, but it implies you might have missed 3 points of How can I read faster?:

  • All deep readers are skimming. You too!
  • The speed-reading article is a response to a question. It is not a suggestion to read faster. You read it too fast!
  • There is no better deep reading than incremental reading!

Everyone is skimming

If you go to your favorite site, and skim the headlines in search for your deep article, you are skimming! You do not even bother to peek inside. You make your judgements on the basis of headlines. Incremental reading is similar in some circumstances. In addition, when you are not entirely sure, you can leave some portions of the text behind for later reading (e.g. to read the Materials and Methods section of a science paper only if Conclusions make you think you need a deeper analysis).

Deep or Fast?

Incremental reading provides you with an option to freely regulate the speed of reading and the depth of reading. You can speed up or slow down for deep thinking or for creative elaboration. This speed-vs-depth control is independent of circumstances. For example, you do not need to speed up when your time is up. This control is entirely in your hands.

Optimum speed and depth

With extracts and priorities, you can actually identify the most important phrase in your entire reading collection and focus all your attention on its value and implications. You can't get more substantive than that! The speed of reading has already been discussed in How can I read faster?.

There is no speed-vs-depth dilemma in SuperMemo. You can control the tradeoff at will. Not only is there virtually no limit on the speed of reading. There is also virtually no limit on the depth, which is largely dependent on the available memory and processing time. In incremental reading, you can increase the depth by extending your memory and by extending your timeline (see below).

In incremental reading you can find your optimum between a virtually unlimited speed of reading, and a virtually unlimited depth of processing

Extended memory

Incremental reading dramatically increases the depth of reading by vastly expanding the following memory resources:

  • your long-term memory is no longer subject to saturation laws (by virtue of spaced repetition)
  • as a result of extending long-term memory, your working memory can employ deeper conceptualization, which magnifies its power in proportion to your investment in long-term memory
  • your memory is extended further by a non-associative component: knowledge in your reading collection. This is your private, semantic, and consolidating search space
Incremental reading expands your memory in three areas: (1) long-term memory, (2) working memory (via conceptualization), and (3) extended memory (via private search space)

Private search space

Your memory-extending private search space built on your reading collection has the following properties, which Google cannot compete with:

  • relevance: it includes only materials that you tag as relevant, prioritized, and organized semantically
  • consolidation: your collection is in the process of perpetual consolidation from which coherent models of reality emerge incrementally in your mind
  • semantic structure: with tools like neural creativity your search can simulate the creative process in slow motion: your brain does the creative part using your extended external collection memory as an artificial extension of your cortex

The value of your private search space increases with each year invested in incremental reading.

Extended timeline

With spaced repetition, you never need to worry about fading memories that might ruin your creatively built semantic memory structures. With more memory and more time, neither speed nor power are the limit.

In incremental reading, you can extend the creative learning process over decades and build models that would never emerge in a short time in working memory. Incremental reading extends your cognition in the areas of consolidation and creativity.


There is no better deep reading than incremental reading

For details see: Advantages of incremental reading (esp. Comprehension, Creativity, Coherence, and Attention sections)

This FAQ expands on the content of "I would never send my kids to school" by Piotr Wozniak (2017)