January 13, 2023

Bionic Reading

I enjoy reading. My mom used to joke that once in a while she’d come down to the kitchen while I was eating breakfast and find me reading the phone book because I couldn’t find anything else to read. At 16 years old that was absolutely true. At 54 years old that doesn’t happen because we don’t have a phone book in the house.

Computers and the Internet have kind of thrown my reading habits sideways. I still enjoy reading, and I read a bit before falling asleep every night, though I use the Kindle App on my iPad Mini and I don’t find that experience to be particularly fulfilling. I need to get a Kindle so that I don’t have something with harsh backlighting. I’m convince that mobile devices are straining our eyes far more than books ever did.

With the tendency for Internet experiences to be short spurts of reading material, I’ve found that my already scatter focused mind drifts a bit while I’m reading, much more than it did when I was younger. I found a new approach to placing type on the screen and it’s called “Bionic Reading”. Bionic Reading places emphasis on the leading letters of words, creating a somewhat unnatural pattern in a line of text, which trains your eyes to move across the entire line of text instead of skipping around a little bit. While designed to help the reader comprehend text better, it also helps those with wandering focus to stick to the text instead of looking at the squirrel jumping around outside the window.

Because I’m an elder-Internet user with an old-school blog, I still use RSS feeds to aggregate my reading material of the day. My application of choice to consume this information is Reeder 5, available on iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS. While I don’t pay for an RSS aggregation service (I have my own server doing that job for me), Reeder 5 has built in functionality for your own aggregation lists and more importantly, it has Bionic Reading built in as an option.

As I’m tying this blog entry I’m realizing WordPress may have a Bionic Reading plugin that I can make available here for this blog. That’d be rather nifty.