Three days or so ago, Tynan published a short post in the Community section:
"Check out the tutorial at http://dotsies.org
I did the whole thing and can read in it now. I love the idea of fully converting my computer over to it for higher information density,and so that no one understands what I'm reading or writing. [...]"
"What is this 'Dotsies'?", you might ask - just as I did.
Well, it's a very condensed font consisting of nothing but 1 to 4 dots. The idea behind it is, that the latin alphabet was created centuries ago for ease of writing. But with the modern age of computers and hand-held devices, that concept is REALLY outdated.
By learning to read this font you can effectively double the size of information that fits on a screen and in due time read somewhat faster than before, since the thing that slows reading-speed down the most is switching lines.
Plus, you feel kind of like having a super-power when you can read a "secret alphabet" ;-)
Now, when you first look at the font you will probably feel that you could never in a million years learn to read that dot-garbage. At least that's what I felt like. Imagine how surprised I was when I started to read through the tutorial page and found myself able to slowly read it after about an hour! In fact, it actually feels more like a fun puzzle than actually trying to learn something.
Still, it's not enough to simply go through the tutorial to really use the font in everyday life. Reading big letters slowly is one thing, but having a whole website translated to 13px-sized dots is quite another.
That's why I sat down today, downloaded a public domain book, and made it into a learning tool for the Dotsies font.
I wanted to use a book that
(a) speaks to the demographic of us efficiency-freaks and
(b) is a classic that you can't read often enough anyway.
So... "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey immediately sprang to mind.
I got it, cleaned it up, and converted it to Dotsies-Font with ever-decreasing font-size. You should be able to read the font pretty well after you're through with it.
The learning book is now an open source project at
--link removed, more information below--
Feel free to contribute. The book had, without exaggeration, hundreds of typos and I bet there are still plenty left to correct. You can simply comment here if you found something. Just tell me what to "Cmd+F"/search for.
You can download the Kindle Version directly here:
--link removed, more information below--
(Please Note that it will only work on a Kindle FIRE, since earlier versions didn't allow custom fonts, and Desktop versions)
Or you can download the generic ePub here:
--link removed, more information below--
Tell me what you think :-)
PS: Tynan also shared a link to a hack with which you apparently can change your Kindle to use the font in every book:
I haven't used it yet, but I probably will after I'm through with my own ebook.
Edit: A few concerns and a chat with the Internet Archive people later it turns out, that the 7 habits were falsely published as "open source" and have now been taken down.
Instead, I created another Dotsies-learning ebook from a book I made certain is in the public domain:
Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich"
Here are the links:
The repository if you want to commit changes:
The Kindle Fire download:
The ePub download:
It seems some people the files don't work for some people while functioning perfectly for other's with the same system specs.
Some common issues are:
- Not having the font installed. Technically the font is embedded but especially for Kindles this is very buggy. Download the font at http://dotsies.org/Dotsies.ttf
- Using a Kindle desktop viewer below version 1.9
- Using an uncommon ePub viewer
It would be cool to take a top 1000 word frequency list of the English language and then convert it into Dotsies and make a flashcard deck out of each word pair. Dotsies front, Latin alphabet back. Cycling through the 1000 most commonly used words on a flashcard program would speed up recognition pretty significantly.
That's a really good idea. Especially since the easier pattern-recognition is one of the main strength of this font.
I believe that's what Craig is currently trying to do with the Dotsies game he is developing ( http://www.dotsies.org/game ), showing you the same common words in Dotsies over and over until you don't even need to read anymore.
Cool! I was surprised to discover that I remembered all the letters 1.5 days later after reading through the main Dotsies page once. Now I'm tracking my Dotsies reading speed over time (I use it for journaling, and I read some of my old journal entries in it). I'm at 6 words per minute now, less than 1% efficiency. I'm skeptical that this will become efficient, but it's fun, and helps for private journaling.
Take a look at this, for anyone interested in efficiency of these types, a computer shorthand called Easyscript
How much does it actually speed up reading? I'm all for a new system of speed-reading.
Well, it probably won't make you read faster at all for quite some time. The creator Craig Muth recently tweeted that he can read Dotsies at 160wpm. An average human reads latin alphabet at around 200wpm. Theoretically, once you can read Dotsies just as well as latin alphabet (like a child that learned both sign-sets from grammar school on), you would be somewhat faster because of the easier pattern-recognition and the longer line length (if the latin text would span 5 lines and the dotsies text 3 lines, guesstimating it takes half a second to switch a line while reading, you would be a second faster)
However when starting out you probably won't be able to use this for speed reading. It's more about the screen efficiency (mostly on small screens) and the privacy.
I wonder how difficult it would be to implement a quicker way to read. I've worked a lot with computational linguistics tools, and I had this idea to maybe first reword sentences into simple clauses and then strip them of non-verbs/nouns/adjectives by automated means (ie a perl script using output from stanford parser). Then maybe display word relationships in a graphical mapping or something. I'm always for greater efficiency, so I'll probably try this and test it out at some point. This dotsies thing made me think there's gotta be a better way than english...
EDIT : I know the site is kinda a disaster now. At least the cool archive link on the right works. I'm too tired to keep working on it, so it's time for a nap and then REAL work. And then if I don't fall asleep instantly, more work on the site.
That's not a typo - my favorite site just got better. I was talking with a reader of my site and he told me my site was hard to navigate. You know what? He's right.
So, I've done a few things to fix that (and other) problems. The most obvious change is that you no longer have to click "read more" to read the rest of the article. You still have to click "comments" to read comments, because otherwise the page would be even huger than it is now.
Also, if you go directly to a post (either through a link or by clicking the title of a post), you'll see links to the next post and previous post. This is for people that like to read the whole site in order or have some catching up to do. When reading in this mode you can also see all the comments right on the page.
So I'm a big believer in my Kindle, I love the thing and I think e-ink readers are the future. I read a lot, I like the feel of paper, but the convenience of having 200 books with me on a slim light device is unbeatable.
I also write on here and produce content, and keeping abreast of the various formats that can be published in is a bit of headache. But Alfred Pang does a great job explaining the current formats and tools to convert between them here - http://alfredpang.com/2010/11/minimalist-workday-in-epub-and-kindle-format/ -
What are all the formats for?
E-books can come in many different formats. ePub, Kindle (MOBI), text, HTML, PDF, Word documents, etc.
Independently produced ebooks (such as Minimalist Workday) usually comes as PDFs. The advantage is that PDFs print out onto paper very well and the exact formatting of the document will not change.