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Old 01-16-2019, 08:06 AM   #1
latepaul
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Can't Remember What You Read? Blame the Font

Can't Remember What You Read? Blame the Font, Not Forgetfulness

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REMEMBER ALL THOSE classics you devoured in comp-lit class? Neither do we. Research shows that we retain an embarrassingly small sliver of what we read. In an effort to help college students boost that percentage, a team made up of a designer, a psychologist, and a behavioral economist at Australia’s RMIT University recently introduced a new typeface, Sans Forgetica, that uses clever tricks to lodge information in your brain. The font-makers drew on the psychological theory of “desirable difficulty”—that is, we learn better when we actively overcome an obstruction.
So, anyone who knows me, or reads my posts over a period of time will know that I often bemoan how bad my memory has become. So this sounds very attractive to me. However I am sceptical. Plus even if it works the experience of reading becomes less pleasurable.

The font is downloadable from here. See a couple of screenshots from my Kobo attached. Would you read the first one?

Actually it reminds me of an incident in the pilot of the sitcom "Better Off Ted"

They make a chair deliberately uncomfortable - it makes you more productive, until it drives you crazy!
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Old 01-16-2019, 08:21 AM   #2
pdurrant
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Hmm... not for me.
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Old 01-16-2019, 08:29 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latepaul View Post
However I am sceptical. Plus even if it works the experience of reading becomes less pleasurable.
That's the crux, of course. These days I read for pleasure.

However, like you, I wish my retention rate especially for non-fiction was better. I've told myself that instead of bombing through the books I need to make a conscious effort to slow down, as when I read a text in college. Carry on a conversation with myself and the author, as it were, while I'm reading.

Screen shots of Left Hand of Darkness duly appreciated; I wouldn't have wanted anything to slow me down with that one! But since it's the book the book club is currently discussing, I'll note that that's one of the things I enjoy about the book club. I do slow down and take notes to facilitate participation in the discussion and I'm more prone to think about and consider the book when I'm not reading it, than the other books I read.
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Old 01-16-2019, 08:33 AM   #4
stuartjmz
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I think a lot of people miss the point stressed by the font's creators, that it's intended to be a "highlights" font only. In that context, I think it could work well. The problem would be that it would likely be overused, like people highlighting whole blocks of text.
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Old 01-16-2019, 10:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
[...] Screen shots of Left Hand of Darkness duly appreciated; I wouldn't have wanted anything to slow me down with that one! But since it's the book the book club is currently discussing, I'll note that that's one of the things I enjoy about the book club. I do slow down and take notes to facilitate participation in the discussion and I'm more prone to think about and consider the book when I'm not reading it, than the other books I read.
Very much this. It was only about a dozen years ago that I started keep track of what I read along with writing brief summaries and I have found that this deliberate review process has made a significant difference to how much, and how accurately, I remember what I read. The book club, of course, takes this to another level.
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Old 01-18-2019, 02:29 PM   #6
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No way could I use this font.

stuartjmz: I'm interested in what you mean by it being a "highlighting font". Do you mean that it should only be used on areas of text that one wants to stand out, as though "highlighted"?

When reading a book whose contents I wish to retain, I draw mind maps as I'm going through it, using pen and paper. This would normally be a non fiction, although I have found myself making mind maps of novels after finishing them if they were particularly interesting.

Some novels (Austen's Sense and Sensibility being one) have required me to draw a family tree in order to follow who's who.

But I don't believe this eye-crossing font would help retention. It would put me, for one, off reading in the first place.
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Old 01-18-2019, 02:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BookCat View Post
No way could I use this font.

stuartjmz: I'm interested in what you mean by it being a "highlighting font". Do you mean that it should only be used on areas of text that one wants to stand out, as though "highlighted"?
Yes, that's exactly the use the font creators spoke about in the first article I read about this several months ago. The comparison photos showing an entire page in the font miss the creators' intention completely.
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Old 01-18-2019, 02:50 PM   #8
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No. Just ... no.
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:24 PM   #9
Deskisamess
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Quote:
But I don't believe this eye-crossing font would help retention. It would put me, for one, off reading in the first place.
This. In spades. Some aspects of font "readability" may be subjective...I prefer a serif font, many readers prefer non-serif. But the example given would be a huge turn off for me, even if it were just a couple of sentences. It would be like a brick wall for my brain. Just wham!

We got a snail mail letter from our ymca last year, that was done in an all caps heavy font face. I think the person who designed it thought that would help because it was lengthy, but all on one page, so the font size was small. It was pretty much unreadable.
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:36 AM   #10
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I think I'll forget Sans Forgetica. Looks like its designed to slow you down and that puts me right off.
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Old 01-20-2019, 05:38 PM   #11
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Sans Forgetica will make me go mad. I could never use it. does anyone have a font to recommend that will help with retention and speed of reading.
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcladyz View Post
Sans Forgetica will make me go mad. I could never use it. does anyone have a font to recommend that will help with retention and speed of reading.
I'm going to hypothesize that speed of reading and retention are inversely correlated.

While I wish I recalled what I read better myself, there is this:

Why forgetting is really important for memory
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Old 01-20-2019, 09:34 PM   #13
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I'm going to hypothesize that speed of reading and retention are inversely correlated.

While I wish I recalled what I read better myself, there is this:

Why forgetting is really important for memory

Thank you Steve. I was going to post something similar about the link between reading speed and retention, but the link you provided goes further by being related to the reason for the creation of San Forgetica. It was intended as the string around the finger, meant to slow you down and focus on it, the consequence being that it would be easier to forget the other stuff.
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Old 01-21-2019, 12:41 AM   #14
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I get slowed down all the time by thoughts triggered by what I read.

If I tried to read that font, all I would think about was how hard it is to read and nothing about what was written.
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:25 AM   #15
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Even for highlighting, I wouldn't like it.

These eyes have had four surgeries. I need the clearest font possible when reading, now.
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