AssembleMe is an information science blog written by Julius Schorzman that frequently sways off-topic.

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    Word Recognition

    VISUAL COMMUNICATION: There is a fascinating read over at Microsoft Research called The Science of Word Recognition. It's all about how you do what you're doing right now: recognizing words.

    [O]ur eyes don’t move smoothly across the page, but rather make discrete jumps from word to word. We fixate on a word for a period of time, roughly 200-250ms, then make a ballistic movement to another word. These movements are called saccades and usually take 20-35ms. Most saccades are forward movements from 7 to 9 letters,* but 10-15% of all saccades are regressive or backwards movements. Most readers are completely unaware of the frequency of regressive saccades while reading. The location of the fixation is not random. Fixations never occur between words, and usually occur just to the left of the middle of a word. Not all words are fixated; short words and particularly function words are frequently skipped. Figure 5 shows a diagram of the fixation points of a typical reader.

    I actually found it difficult to read, simply because I had become too aware of my eye movement and thought processes to pay attention to a number of passages, so I had to reread large sections of the paper.

    Sometimes I think if I could do it all over again I would go into cognitive psychology... This paper makes me want to read my Steven Pinker books again.

    (via EyeBeam reBlog via SlashDot)

    References (2)

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    Reader Comments (1)

    I've heard this before, and it reminds me also of two related items:

    1. When I'm reading text, and I have to put the book down and do something, when I return to the text, my eye has memorized the exact spot I stopped at. Maybe it's just me. But I almost never have to search.

    2. I used to highlight sentences I wanted to easily find again in books. Now I try to memorized the basic organization of ideas in a book, so I can scan it and find the sentence I want to re-read. With books that only have relatively few good sentences I highlight to save time and trouble swimming through bad stuff, though.

    It would be nice if web browers could highlight sections of a web site or web article or blog article, so everytime you returned to it, it would jump out at you, like with books.

    I'm going to bookmark this blog. I really like visualization of data.

    Drop by my web usability blog:


    My blog is a phlog like yours is. See my recent article "This Blog is a Phlog, Not a Plog."

    Most blogs are plogs. Yours and mine are phlogs.

    September 8, 2004 | Unregistered Commentersteven edward streight

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