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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

April 20, 2006

Speed Reading

Via the Guardian Technology Blog, I came across this report on web reading patterns, which argues that the dominant pattern drawn by the eyes as they scan a page is an F-shape.

Obviously, one of the key reasons for this pattern is that web sites often have SHITE in the way of your eyes at the top of a story. The Guardian, for example, gives you a short paragraph followed by a huge ad, followed by the rest of the story. Inevitably, my eyes are going to skate over the ad and into the second paragraph, and - as any fule kno - people stop reading after 2, 3 paragraphs.

Which means you're probably not reading this far, so I can say what I want. I'm reading a Garrison Keillor book at the moment, Wobegon Boy. Picked it up at my dad's house the other day. It was on a bookshelf, still with its fancy little red banner wrapped around it, obviously never read. It had about an inch of dust on the top of it.

It's the sort of thing my mum would do. Because she only ever really read thrillers, so even if she did like to talk about how wonderful Garrison Keillor is on the radio, she would never in a million years read one of his books.

Actually, I have quite a few of them, all of the ones up to Wobegon Boy, in fact. I loaned Roy Radio Romance recently. GK is a very funny man, but it's the kind of humour, you have to get into it first, because otherwise you might not notice. It's true. His anecdotes are as long and rambling as they need to be, and they're stuffed full of details that make you laugh once you understand where it's coming from.

I recommend the radio show, which is on BBC 7, Saturday lunchtimes. Or you can listen on the internet. It's an odd mix, sometimes with excruciatingly cute musical interludes. Other times he'll have someone decent on, like Jerry Douglas. This coming Saturday, it's the Del McCoury band. And there's always a quarter of an hour of Lake Wobegon stuff, which can be very funny. But you need to get into it first, and I can't help you with that. It's like learning the guitar. If you don't practice, you just won't ever get it.

But you didn't read this far.


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