“Speeder Reader: An Experiment in the Future of Reading” by Back, Cohen, Gold, Harrison and Minneman

  • ©Maribeth Back, Jonathan (Jon) David Cohen, Rich Gold, Steve Harrison, and Scott Minneman

  • ©Maribeth Back, Jonathan (Jon) David Cohen, Rich Gold, Steve Harrison, and Scott Minneman




    Speeder Reader: An Experiment in the Future of Reading



    Speeder Reader is an interactive reading station built around two primary ideas: dynamic text, especially RSVP (rapid serial visual presentation), and driving as an interface metaphor. As words flash one at a time on a screen, the reader controls the speed of the words with a gas pedal (up to 1,850 words per minute). Text selection is performed with a steering wheel. Thus, one can “drive through a book.” Speeder Reader leverages the familiar activity of driving an automobile (or, in the case of children, operating a speed-racing video game) to allow comfortable and intuitive access to the possibly less familiar world of interactive text.

    Speeder Reader was designed as part of a six-month museum exhibit at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. The exhibit, titled “XFR: Experiments in the Future of Reading,” was designed and built by the RED (Research in Experimental Documents) group at Xerox PARC. It ran from March to September, 2000 and attracted about 350,000 visitors. In 2001, XFR will begin a three-year tour to other science and technology museums.

    The topic RED chose for the exhibition was reading and technology, and in particular how digital technology impacts nearly everything we read. The XFR exhibit presents a series of explorations in new ways of experiencing text, including new genres, new styles of interaction, and unusual media. Because the exhibit took place within the context of a modern technology museum, the XFR exhibits are primarily interactive and hands-on.


    The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of our colleagues in the RED group at Xerox PARC: Rich Gold, manager; Maribeth Back, Anne Balsamo, Mark Chow, Matt Gorbet, Steve Harrison, Dale Macdonald, and Scott Minneman. Significant contributions to XFR were made by Jonathan Cohen, Maureen Stone, Mark Meadows, Polle Zellweger, Jock Mackinlay, Bay-Wei Chang, and many others (unfortunately, too many to list here). We also thank Jock Mackinlay of Xerox PARC, for consultation on RSVP, and Terry Murphy of Exhibit Engineering.


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