The magic of reading less and understanding more

The trick

Read less – understand more.

This may seem like a coincidence at first, but it is actually doable. We can decrease the number of words we read while increasing our understanding of what we read.

The ability to differentiate between what is valuable and what is not is key. When we know what's important, we can align our focus on it and skip everything else.

You might ask, well, how to know what to skip and what not - everything seems to be important. The answer is simpler than you probably would expect. We actually don't have to identify the unnecessary parts ourselves. The author has done this already.

I am talking about all those (…) - parentheses. Everything written in between parentheses is by-design "extra". We don't have to read it to understand what's happening. Indeed, most times it's way easier to just read the sentence without the parentheses. Lots of parentheses tend to blow up the text and make it significantly harder to read and understand. We read over half the sentence, get distracted by something off-topic or low valuable in parentheses, forget about how the actual sentence started and f**, we lost the whole point. Loosely look for the beginning again and repeat.

To prevent this from getting us out of our reading flow, we have to skip the parentheses.

Okay, so anytime we see an opening parenthesis, we change into skipping mode until we see the closing parenthesis. But spotting this closing parenthesis is actually kind of a challenge. Reading on a website that colorizes parentheses differently than the other text is rare.

Wouldn't it be nice to simply have those parentheses collapsed by default, and we could just expand them as-needed in case we want to get some more insights?

This is exactly what "Parentheses Folding" does. It is a browser extension that turns all pairs of parentheses it finds on any webpage we visit into an interactive element, we can collapse/expand as needed.

Digital web but pre-digital reading experience

Collapsing parentheses is nothing new, in software development "code folding" is quite a common technique. Anytime developers want to focus on one particular piece of code in a huge file, they fold large code constructs like functions or classes to clear up their view. This helps them to keep focus and prevents getting distracted by anything that is not of interest in the given situation.

IDEs, integrated developer environments and code editors are generally fully backed with such useful features. Their goal is to improve the developer's coding experience: DX, developer experience.

What all of those great features have in common is the way they turn some piece of static information into a fully digital experience optimized for maximal interactivity.

While IDEs are doing a great job providing an enhanced digital experience, most of the web lacks on interactivity in so many areas.

On most websites, text is presented nearly identical to a printed version.

The mission of shifting reading to the next level using technology seems to be paused after the invention of the hyperlink.

For real: We are fully digital and hardly doing anything the truly digital way. We could do anything, we could make it awesome, we could make it fully featured and enriched with super hot enhancements.

The ability to collapse/expand parentheses is one example of such an enhancement.

Users should be able to make use of many more useful features when reading on the web platform.

It's time to rethink how a digital reading experience should look like. TBH: I've not yet experienced a purely digital focused reading experience.

To get started with Parentheses Folding, reading less and understanding more, add the extension to your web browser:

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