WE DON’T USE ALL CAPS ONLINE BECAUSE IT IS SHOUTING AND IT IS HARD TO READ!
We read not by looking at individual letters in a word. We read by recognizing the shape of how a word is created by its lowercase letters.
ALL CAPS CREATE WORDS WITH NO UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL LETTER SHAPES!
Mixed case for words works best for understanding each other via a text medium.
A friend of mine sent me the following in email and this example takes word shape recognition a step further:

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg.The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

It appears we may not even care in what order the letters make up each word — we see the word shape even if the letters of the word are jumbled: Wlid, eh?

17 Comments

  1. My spelling can be awful online because I really don’t care enough to make it better. I really should though because it makes me look bad. The word I have the hardest time with is “the” often spelling it “hte”.

  2. Hi Robin!
    Spelling is important online. I think I read somewhere that Google, when it indexes your site, actually penalizes your ranking if there are a lot of misspelled words because your content is considered “low.” I’m sure this post today didn’t do much to move me up the Google rank ladder.

  3. I worked for the Post Office one Christmas in a remote encoding center. The USPS used to have the encoding centers to process mail that couldn’t be read by automated mail processing machines.
    Part of the training was learning how to speed read so that the mail could be processed as fast and as accurately as possible. We did a lot of exercises looking at short messages displayed on a screen for a short period of time — probably fractions of a second.
    The key to reading anything fast is to quickly scan the document and “take it in” without trying to read every word individually. Just as our mind doesn’t need to see letters in words to process the meaning, as per the example, the mind can absorb a lot of information just by being exposed to it.
    It shows how amazing our mind is.

  4. Chris —
    That’s a fine story! You learned how to read without looking. Fantastic!
    There’s a similar conceit in American Sign Language where you have to “watch the box” around the entire person from their head to their waist to the span of their arms in order to fully comprehend what is being said. To focus in on only the hands or only the face is to miss 50% of the conversation. You have to fuzz your eyes to see everything in the “big picture” without losing the details.

  5. Chris —
    That’s a fine story! You learned how to read without looking. Fantastic!
    There’s a similar conceit in American Sign Language where you have to “watch the box” around the entire person from their head to their waist to the span of their arms in order to fully comprehend what is being said. To focus in on only the hands or only the face is to miss 50% of the conversation. You have to fuzz your eyes to see everything in the “big picture” without losing the details.

  6. I once read an article by Bill Cosby about how to speed read – mostly involved viewing clumps of words at a time. Quite interesting stuff.
    What’s amusing about the whole idea of reading in all caps is that if you look at the hebrew language, you’ll see that there’s no such thing as a capital letter or a non-capital letter. All letters are one size.
    More related to this article, though vowel marks do exist, in standard printed Hebrew you won’t find it. Rather, people know what vowels are there because they know what the words are, contextually speaking. 🙂

  7. Gordon!
    We do read and understand concepts in chunks. I think writers have a habit of reading every — single — word — so we can see how it everything works together. Unfortunately, that makes us pokey readers in some eyes.
    Your Hebrew language information is telling! I wonder if the shape of the word on the page makes some kind of difference if it is written by hand instead of letterset?
    In the example I posted I also think the 2 and 3 letter words are markers for context and that helps a lot!

  8. Gordon!
    We do read and understand concepts in chunks. I think writers have a habit of reading every — single — word — so we can see how it everything works together. Unfortunately, that makes us pokey readers in some eyes.
    Your Hebrew language information is telling! I wonder if the shape of the word on the page makes some kind of difference if it is written by hand instead of letterset?
    In the example I posted I also think the 2 and 3 letter words are markers for context and that helps a lot!

  9. You can get Ispell for IE at this addy. http://www.iespell.com/ Them you can check your spelling when writing a post using IE. I have tried it and it works very good
    But I use Firefox, as far a I know there is no word spell for it as of yet. I had an article telling how to make one work with Firefox, but I could never get it to work for me.
    I always write my post in an e-mail on my Outlook Express, them spell check it, them copy and past it into the post. Because I am a very poor speller. Especially here is the last few years with neck surgery and so much trouble with headaches and pain. it makes it hard to pay concentrate.
    And yes, its amazing how we read, I had that e-mail sent to me a long while back.

  10. Right on target, Jerry! You have made a succinct and clever case against growing older! Eyes dim. Bodies ache. Hearts are unmended. Spelling checkers are wonderful — I prefer to call them “Typo Checkers” to keep my spirits up and my ego unchallenged.
    😀

  11. Right on target, Jerry! You have made a succinct and clever case against growing older! Eyes dim. Bodies ache. Hearts are unmended. Spelling checkers are wonderful — I prefer to call them “Typo Checkers” to keep my spirits up and my ego unchallenged.
    😀