John Seely Brown is an innovation expert shares surprising and counterintuitive insights, what surfers can teach CEOs about collaborative learning in a clip called “Accelerating the pace of collaborative learning.” Key points: 1) Create a learning community to study best practices; 2) Self-cretique, compete internally, and learn together; 3) Study adjacencies, repurpose innovation.
Italian translation of The Speed Reading Bible is now available on Kindle: Lttra Vlce – La Bibbia della Lettura Veloce: Il Libro della Lettura Veloce con 37 Tecniche e Strategie per la Lettura Super Rapida (Lettura Rapida, Lettura Veloce)
The latest version of iBooks features scrolling facility as an alternative to page turning. Unfortunately, they’ve missed the trick. The only way to scroll is to push with your finger which covers the text you’re trying to read. Why didn’t they advantage of the tilt facility which has been used on some apps where the angle of tilt allows you to control the speed of scrolling. The bonus was it reminded me of the brilliant video explaining the difference between books and scrolls. If you haven’t seen it – take a look now.
Information (overload) this is the fastest growing phenomenon on this planet. Information is superabundant. According to The Economist the amount of digital information increases tenfold every five years. But another source (EMC2 – responsible for the World Information Growth Ticker above) says that, “The world’s information is doubling every two years. In 2011 the world will create a staggering 1.8 zettabytes. By 2020 the world will generate 50 times the amount of information.” In another study “How much information?” researchers Hal Varian and Peter Lyman measured the total production of all information channels in the world for two different years, 2000 and 2003. Varian and Lyman estimate that the total production of new information in 2000 reached 1.5 exabytes. They explain that is about 37,000 times as much information as is in the entire holdings Library of Congress. For one year! Three years later the annual total yielded 3.5 exabytes. That yields a 66% rate of growth in information per year. So, nobody knows exactly how much information there is and how fast it’s growing but we know for sure that there is far too much information that we can process.
And information changes and goes out of date all the time (as suggested by this book ‘The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date‘ by Samuel Arbesman. Smoking has gone from doctor-recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that Pluto was a planet. For decades, we were convinced that the Brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. Eating meat used to be good for you, then bad, then good again – now it’s a matter of opinion. I have no idea any longer whether or not red wine is good for me. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing. Information overload = information unload. Much of what we believe to be factual has an expiration date, but the good news is that we can see it coming (according to NewScientist).
That’s why speed reading can help you to keep up to date with information in your field.
Research has shown connections between fitness and brain health, which leads to better brain function and cognitive skills such as reading and memory. According to co-author Trent A. Petrie, PhD (University of North Texas): “Cardiorespiratory fitness was the only factor that we consistently found to have an impact on both boys’ and girls’ grades on reading and math tests… This provides more evidence that schools need to re-examine any policies that have limited students’ involvement in physical education classes.” Previous research suggests the same for mental acuity in seniors (and to remodel the brain), so physical fitness is equally essential for all age groups. Read more…
>7 Smile – enjoy what you’re reading
Summary: Being in a happy, positive frame of mind makes it easier to take in information. Even faking a smile can have a similar effect.
Your state can strongly affect how well you read at any given moment – and therefore there are several techniques designed to get you into the best state for reading. The first is simply to smile. And even when you relax your face, keep the smile in your eyes. Feel your inner smile.
Research has shown that people understand better and take in more information when they’re happy. So the happier you are, the better reader you become.
Further research has shown that the physical effect of smiling can affect our mood positively (it releases endorphins, the happy hormones) and make us feel even more like smiling. So if you don’t initially feel like smiling, ‘fake it till you make it!’
And yet more research indicated that seeing someone else smile, or even just looking at the picture of a smile, can cause you to smile.
DO IT NOW… Smile
Watch this informative talk about the benefits of smiling
The main reason I wanted to digitise all my books was to have access to them at any time (on my Mac, iPad, iPhone, online) and also to be able to search the whole e-library rather than just individual books. And I wanted to get rid of my bookshelves, because I was moving house. Also Google’s attempt to digitise all the books on this planet has got a bit stuck – this is my one small step in the same direction.
Book digitising in 3 easy (but quite time consuming) steps:
Step 1. Get a double-page scanner and paper guillotine cutter – Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Document Scanner and A3 guillotine paper cutter photo trimmer heavy duty. Better still borrow them (which is what I did) or share the cost if you buy it, either directly or on eBay. The scanner is a good investment (I’ve scanned all my tax documents, etc).
Step 2. Cut/chop off the spines of the books with your guillotine. Keep the pages in order.
Step 3. Run the pages through the scanner (very straightforward and it scans both sides at the same time), but you need to flick through the book to check for stuck pages. (If the scanner detects pages that are stuck together or several pages going through together at one time, it will stop which allows you to sort out the problem and continue – but you want to avoid this if possible.) Both sides of the page are scanned at the same time (but you can set for a single side scan if you’re scanning just a document). Because it’s a small scanner you can do only 50-100 pages at a time depending on the type of paper.
You can’t scan bigger than A4 formats. You can save the files in different formats – I’ve chosen pdfs. The scanner can convert the images to text if you choose that option, but it will slow down the process so I’ve opted out of that. Instead I converted the pdf images to text later using the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Pro (OCR: Optical Character Recognition – Documents > OCR Text Recognition). This software converted the whole folder which made the pdf fully searchable and editable – but this did take a few days (for all 700+ books). I tend to read ebooks on my iPad now and iAnnotate PDF is probably the best app for reading and editing pdfs.
A couple of tips from me and Tom (who did it first and lent me his scanner and the cutter – for which I’m very grateful – he’s a great NLP trainer and has some interesting NLP online courses: http://www.nlptimes.com/)
1. There will be lots of blank pages at the back of the books – reuse them as scrap paper. But remove them before scanning. Good eco-karma.
2. Flick through the books to check for stuck pages, especially at the beginning of the book. Also for bookmarks and post-it notes that might be there – these might jam the scanner. I kept the folded corners intact because this is one of the ways I mark important information. The key value of this process is that I wanted the wisdom from the books ie all the underlining and highlighting and comments I’ve made. That’s the true value of digitising books. I don’t need more raw knowledge or information – I could easily get these books as ebooks at a later date. What is valuable is the work I’ve already put into the books when I’ve sped read them and noted what is key to me.
3. As a byproduct of the scanning process – I’ve downloaded (photoread) lots of books just by flicking through them to check for stuck pages. Downloading is one of the 37 speed reading techniques that we teach that primes the brain with the information from the book so when you work with the book it’s easier to process.
4. You can name the files later if you need to. I used APA (American Psychological Association) format which I had to use when doing my Masters in Environmental Psychology which goes like this: Norman, S., Cisek, J. (2010). Spd Rdng – The Speed Reading Bible. Amazon: Kindle.
There are other referencing styles.
5. Because I was scanning lots of books every day – about 10 books/hour my fingers got quite dirty. The tendency is to lick your fingers to turn or check pages. DON’T DO IT! Some books can still have some unpleasant chemicals in both the paper and the ink – you don’t want to ingest the toxins. So don’t lick your fingers – check out The Name of The Rose (book or film) – oops I’ve just spoiled if for you – sorry. But actually, knowing the ending of the book is good for your learning.
In America they have a book digitizing service available for as little as 1 USD/book – I wish there was somebody here in the UK doing this – it would have saved me about 6 days of scanning.
I’ve filmed the whole process and will publish a video about it shortly so bookmark this blog now.
Common sense and speed reading suggests that if your vocabulary is large you’d be reading faster and more. Now a US study suggests that the amount of talk between parents and children can predict their future achievements better than class, race or income. Frank Field, the UK government adviser on poverty, found that a child from a middle-class, stable family has on average heard 33 million words before it starts school. And that is 23 million more words than a poor child. (Obviously, he means the amount of talking, not the amount of unique words. English language has only over 1 million words.) Field suggests that poor parenting skills in deprived families lower a child’s prospects by the age of three. Field started a pilot schemes in Birkenhead to teach the art of parenting which will include a detailed ‘highway code’ agreement for parents, a ‘parenting curriculum’ at school and rites of passage.
Creativity and innovation seems to be the flavour of the month. Watch this video with the key authors who wrote books on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship: Matt Ridley, Steven Berlin Johnson, Jonah Lehrer and Peter Sims. They talk about why brainstorming doesn’t work, why it’s essential to cultivate eclectic connections and how to get the next great idea in a warm shower. All the books written by the speakers are highly recommended for anyone interested in creativity, innovation, success in business or is an entrepreneur:
Jonah Lehrer: Imagine: How Creativity Works
Matt Ridley: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
Steven Berlin Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Seven Patterns of Innovation
Peter Sims: Little Bets – How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Olympia Le-Tan, French kooky accessory designer (who honed her craft at Chanel and Balmain before setting up her own label) puts a new spin on this saying. The book-bags are bounded with silk, hand embroidered with black satin and lined with Liberty print poplin and with £1000 tag (sold out at time of writing this blog). Michelle Williams, Natalia Vodianova, Natalie Portman, Clémence Poésy and Tilda Swinton are fans of Olympia Le-Tan. Unfortunately, the size of the book bags is just a bit too small (6″ x 8″ x2″) to carry iPad (7.31″ x 9.50″ x 0.37″) but otherwise perfect for the Kindle.
New Year – new beginnings and apart of using speed reading to know more here are 31 tips collected by Newsweek and backed up by scientific research. Most of them you probably know by now but some might surprise you. Summary of all the top tips to get smarter in 2012 and here’s the link to further explanation if you need it.
1) Play Words With Friends
2) Eat Turmeric
3) Take Tae Kwon Do – or anything physical: dancing, tennis, etc
4) Get News from Al Jazeera – can make you more open-minded
5) Toss your smartphone – at least for a weekend
6) Sleep. A Lot. – especially when you’re learning a lot
7) Download the TED app – the best library of talks on almost everything
8. Go to a Literary Festival – research suggests that reading novels will make you smarter
9) Build a ‘Memory Palace’
10) Learn a Language – Michel Thomas tapes are excellent start for beginner Spanish, German, Italian, French
11) Eat Dark chocolate – of course! yummy
12) Join a Knitting Circle – surprise here
13) Wipe the Smile Off Your Face – we suggest smiling to get into a good state (endorphin effect) but frowning apparently makes you more analytical and sceptical
14) Play Violent Video Games – not sure here, there must be better and more peaceful way – who sponsored this study
15) Follow these people on Twitter: Economic genius Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel), online show host Jad Abumrad (@JadAbumrad) and author Colson Whitehead (@colsonwhitehead).
16) Eat Yogurt (probiotics)
17) Install SuperMemo (a flash card program)
18) See a Shakespeare Play – engages your brain more actively than most texts. Check the summaries of all Shakespeare plays
19) Refine Your Thinking
20) Hydrate – drink more H2O
21) Check out iTunes U
22) Visit your local Art Museum
23) Play a musical instrument – I wonder if Garage Band counts
24) Write by Hand – this one is very interesting since we type so much. Other studies suggest that by committing in writing to a goal/task we increase the chances of accomplishing that goal/task. The second best way is to tell somebody about your commitement.
25) The Pomodoro Technique – this mysteriously sounding technique is just a simple management technique of working in 25 minutes sessions (in speed reading we suggest 20 minute working sessions because basically you can and Parkinson’s law states that the task expands to the time available)
26) Zone Out
27) Drink Coffee – to boost short-time memory and keep depression at bay
28) Delay Gratification – key habit of successful people and builds executive functioning
29) Become an Expert
30) Write Reviews Online
31) Get Out of Town
We personally would add three more tips (3R – or three qualities if you like) that will ensure you become smarter this year and beyond:
1) Reflection – reflect on the day’s learnings (what you’ve learned which builds your knowledge and what you should unlearn to build your wisdom, according to Lao Tzu) – keeping a daily journal or diary will help with these – according to the tip 24 ideally written by hand
2) Relationship – everything from quantum bits to learning a new language to encounters on the street depends on the mastery of this
3) Resilience – one study suggests that the act of listing your many identities (father, mother, surfer, British, Buddhist, driver, speed reader, etc) will build your resilience.
Printed books (as we know them) have dominated the transfer of information, knowledge and wisdom for over 600 years. Digital technologies allow for better presentation of information. Visual language was the original concept behind presenting information in less linear and wordy formats. Animated infographics are paving the way to quicker, more effective ways to present information. Here’s an example of the history of the development of iPhone in an animated infographic video. However ineractive apps are the real future of information delivery. One of my favourite apps is ZITE – where the app is actually learning what I like to read and finds the appropriate information, saving me lots of time.
Spd Rdng (speed reading) technique 37: read beginnings and endings – validated by new research. Knowing the ending of the book is good for your learning.
We’ve pointed out from the brain’s point of view that an ideal way to read a book is to start with the first chapter (which tells you what it’s going to be about) and the last chapter (which tells you the conclusions). The only downside when it comes to novels might be that it spoils the ending for you. However, new research undertaken by Nicholas Christenfeld (Professor of social psychology at the University of California, San Diego) and Jonathan Leavitt (PhD candidate at UC San Diego studying psychology) shows that people typically enjoy a book more when they know the ending in advance – even when the story has an unexpected twist at the end. (Which explains why we’re happy to go to the the same film or to reread a book again and again.) So now there’s even more reason to use the technique with factual material – knowing the conclusion means that you know which information is important as you go along. If you don’t know the end then everything is of equal value. They always said that hindsight is 20/20! Read more about this speed reading technique.
New idea for book reading: just add ambient and contextual soundtracks to books. Booktract – with it’s soundtracks for books is trying to enrich people’s experience with books by filling them with appropriate background sounds, sound effects, etc synchronised with your reading speed. Yes, sounds interesting so I’ve downloaded a free Booktrack soundtrack book/app – Sherlock Holmes. There are a few functions that speed readers might want but they’re actually counter intuitive. For example, there is a reading indicator which is there to help you pace yourself and you can adjust it but it is all too mechanical and works only at the regular limited speeds. And what’s worse is that if you choose the underline or ball indicator it jumps under or over each word respectively. There is a slider indicator on the right hand side that points only at the line but again the problem is the speed. As all speed readers know, in order to read fast and with comprehension, we need to read meaningful chunks of words, not individual words (speed reading principle number 6: read the message not the words – and principle number 11: focus on hot spots of information, in our Speed Reading Bible). This reading indicator can potentially harm your reading by instilling in you a bad habit for reading ie reading word by word (as opposed to speed reading principle number 8: take fewer steps per line). There is an on/off button. However, the soundtrack won’t be synchronised with the speed of reading. There is a speed reading test where you can check how fast you’re reading though and then use that to set the reading indicator speed. There is a slider to adjust the reading indicator which limits your reading speed to 700wpm (word per minute) which might be slow for some speed readers. But the major problem it that it is designed for novels and to read them for pleasure you need to read them at different speeds in whatever way pleases you.
I’m sure people will try it a few times and time will tell if it will take off in a big way beyond the novelty factor (although they have big companies such as Sony and HarperCollins backing them). It might take some time to get used to the whole idea. Interactive books are the future though – for example Vooks. It should work for children’s books. I’ve looked at some kids books (for example on iPad: The Fantastic Flying Books ) and they’re amazing and very cheap. I wonder what kind of soundtrack they would add for summaries of books such as Passing Time in The Loo – Book Summaries.
Read more about Booktracks – soundtracks for books and immersive reading