Everyday Systems: everydaysystems: message 13 of 74

< previous message | next message >

Note: This is an archived message from our old discussion software. Join the current discussion here.

Subject: Re: speed reading...and the Cinderella Electric Curfew
From: beautiful_idiot
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 14:24:43 -0000
Hi Chris,

"Cinderella Electric Curfew" is a great name. A cross between the brothers 
Grimm and Ray 
Bradbury. If I ever put together a weekend luddite page I'll mention this alternate. 
problem/solution/metaphor is slightly different, but I think they're similar enough 
to think 
about in the same category -- distraction management. In this case, the distractions 
managed are those which which keeps you from the good of sleep.

I should have read your original speed reading post more carefully, you'd mentioned 
already that it was work-reading in particular that was giving you trouble. Although 
I do 
read a fair amount for my job (programmers spend probably about as much time poring 

over dreadful API documents as they do programming) it's so different from what I do 
a book that I barely think of it as reading. It usually involves a lot of google-work 
"control f" to find exactly the term I'm interested in so I can skip the 
rest -- in other 
words, most of the "skill" and time efficiency is in knowing what *not* to 
read. I haven't 
thought about this at all from a systems point of view. I will.


--- In , "Chris Highcock" <chrishighcock@y...> wrote:
> Hi there
> yeah, I was thinking about what you wrote below, and I have to agree about most 
reading. However I suppose I distinguish vbetween reading for pleasure and skimming 

reports or whatever at work when I am trying to get key information as fast as 
possible. I 
work for the City Council and a lot of my work is reading reports and producing 
notes and other reports based on an analysis of other research and information - that 
when reading quickly woudl be an advantage...or maybe to be accurate it is not about 

reading but about extracting information. I suppose that fits with what you wrote 
the imporatnt thing being understaanding and distinguishing the imporatnat from the 

> Anyway, I've been thinking about and trying a new system, and I thought I'd 
throw it out 
for comment and development:
> Problem: not getting enough sleep
> Cause: (well one cause!) staying up too late reading or on the internet or 
listening to 
the radio etc.
> System: Cinderella's Electric Curfew - the idea is that most of the distractions 
that keep 
me awake involve electricity - the PC, the stereo, the radio, even a light for 
reading. The 
system says that come midnight (Cinderella's curfew) the switches must be 
> I suppose there may be S day issues too, (but Fri/Sat...i.e., not school 
> I've tried this for a few nights and not always made it, but it has made me 
think, which is 
the point, because then I can do something about it.
> Chris 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: Reinhard Engels 
> To:  
> Sent: Sunday, July 11, 2004 5:06 AM
> Subject: [everydaysystems] Audiodidact and distraction management vs. speed 
> Hi Chris,
> My responses to a couple more issues you raise (more
> pending):
> > Audiodidact - smart name. I've tried similar things
> > listening to audiobooks while walking to work, but
> > have given up that recently because I found that I
> > was missing out on the "thinking time" that comes
> > with the walk. I was filling my head with other
> > stuff rather than just enjoying the walk and using
> > it to think things through.
> This is something I'm trying to balance. Nietzsche
> writes that the worst thing one can do in the morning,
> when one is at one's brightest and most alert, is
> read. The idea is it's better to think one's own
> thoughts, do one's own creating. Though he didn't
> extend this warning to walking, a thinking time he
> also valued highly, one imagines it applies
> (audiobooks were not much of an issue in the 1880's).
> It's a valid warning in both cases, I think, and I
> heed it. But I've found that when I'm doing some
> menial chore I'm not at my best and brightest, and
> that then listening is a great gain with very little
> loss. I've also found that at certain times walking
> time is not good thinking time, and can be profitably
> redeemed by listening to an audiobook. Example: when
> I'm walking home from work, all I can think about is
> work related stresses. These thoughts are neither
> pleasant nor particularly productive. An audiobook is
> a good way to snap out of the day's business. I take
> my job seriously, but I also take my private and
> family life seriously, and an audio book for the walk
> home frees me to attend to and enjoy the latter
> without materially compromising the former. I'd never
> listen to an audiobook on my way *to* work. That's
> double prime time (morning plus walking, minus the
> aftershocks of a working day's distresses).
> > Speed reading - this is a favourite with self
> > improvement type courses, but there must be a
> > balance. i like reading a novel slowly
> > sometimes....yet if I have to read reports or
> > research at work I want to get through it quickly
> > while spotting the key points. One thing I
> > sometimes do with a newspaper is read the first
> > paragraph of all the news stories these are usually
> > written (by trained journalists) as a summary of the
> > whole story, so in a few minutes you can read the
> > whole paper and get the general outline of the day's
> > news.
> Though I don't know much about it, I have to admit I'm
> a little prejudiced against the idea of speed reading.
> It doesn't seem to me that it can work, in any
> meaningful way, that at best it's an impressive stunt.
> Reading isn't purely passive. It's not like eating,
> passively absorbing intellectual nutrients. Reading is
> also reacting. I butcher my books with underlines and
> objections (cringe, fellow librarians). There's a
> famous story in the literature of psychology about a
> man with a photographic memory, who could perform
> astonishing feats of recollection, but was miserable
> and useless because he was unable to distinguish the
> important from the trivial. A "successful" speed
> reader would be like this man. I think there's a
> reason that students still pack lecture halls, despite
> millennia of writing (a "technology" Socrates
> deplored, fearing it was a crutch that would weaken
> the faculties of memory and reason), centuries of
> printing, and decades of internet. The speed of speech
> is the best speed for learning. It makes evolutionary
> sense, among other things. Go faster, "overclock" your
> learning mechanisms, and you get "lossy" learning. You
> get shallow learning. I think there is still room for
> greater reading/learning efficiency, but I don't think
> it's to be achieved by packing more words into less
> time. I think you'll get it by reclaiming lost and
> underutilized scraps of time when the mind is free
> (and restless, even, clamoring to be employed) but the
> body isn't, and by the simple expedient of
> "distraction management" (wasting less time). I don't
> have the resources to do a large scale empirical study
> (nor am I aware of one), but I'm amazed at the gains
> I've made for myself in less than two years fumbling
> along these lines.
> Reinhard
> a.. To visit your group on the web, go to:

> b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service. 

> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

 © 2002-2005 Reinhard Engels, All Rights Reserved.