Incremental reading is overrated

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Incremental reading hype

Douglas wrote:

I think the incrementals are overrated. How many people read more than 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 at the same time? I personally have created my own version of incremental reading using standard featured of common desktop applications: word processing with macros and a modern browser.


Reading in parallel

After a longer while, all users of incremental reading build up hundreds or thousands of articles in the pipeline. The flow of new articles keeps increasing early in the process while users master the tools and the techniques. The appetite always increases over time. The rate of imports is slowed only by the time needed for discovery.

You are right that not many people read thousands of articles. However, for an incremental reader, thousands are a norm.

To understand the idea this blog entry might be helpful.

The list of advantages of incremental reading is pretty long and it usually takes a longer while of immersed learning to appreciate the origins of that gradual acceleration.

Minimum definition

See the Minimum definition of incremental reading. Many of important features are not easily implementable in a word processor. We hear those implementation claims pretty often, but they largely originate from viewing incremental reading as a 3-operations system: import, extract, and cloze. Without spaced repetition, and priority queue, "incremental reading" does not differ much from reading on paper with a highlighter pen.

Actual experience (user comment)

Several people comment on incremental reading where it is apparent they have no actual experience using it. I have used incremental reading daily for almost 2 years now (still consider myself a novice though but have grasped the main stuff and see the advantages of it very clearly) and on and off for several years before that and I can tell you very clearly that it takes a long time of actual experience to really understand how and why it works and with "long time of actual experience", I don´t mean dabbling on and off with it, doing some extracts here and there, "understanding it theoretically", doing it "wholeheartedly" for a couple of months but rather/actual 1+ year (minimum) of experience where you learn the tools properly, how you as a unique individual learn with Supermemo, how your memory works, how you can be "effective" when it comes to using Supermemo and other external tools that might be a part of your overall "knowledge/learning system", how your temperament and discipline factors in etc. etc.. Incremental is an advanced, complex process with many parts and it takes someone inexperienced with it a long time to REALLY understand it. Seriously, if you haven´t used incremental reading daily for 1+ year, don´t comment about it, go try it properly instead/first! (sorry if this is harsh but tired of BS from people that don´t understand or know what they are talking about.).


When people read books, they use a different "philosophy". This is why saying, "I read a 1000 books" sounds strange or suspicious. A good pop explanation of the rationale of incremental reading can be found here. Quote:

I concluded that it is time to stop listing caveats in the context of my saying "I am just reading that book". As I do not read on paper, and read everything incrementally, I need to explain that "I am reading" does not mean "I am reading deep" or "I will finish soon" or "I remember a lot" or "the book is very important for me". In incremental reading there are all shades of gray for urgency, speed, importance, depth, investment, meticulousness, etc. In the end, it is better to say "I am increading that book".