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Follow Me (at a Faster Speed)

January 30, 2018

This article helps me articulate the benefits of listening to information at something faster than normal speed:

Rachel Kenny started listening to podcasts in 2015 — and quickly fell behind. "As I started subscribing to more and more podcasts, they started stacking up, and I couldn't keep up at normal speed," the 26-year-old data scientist in Indianapolis told BuzzFeed News. "I also had to listen to the backlist of all the podcasts when I subscribed to them." So Kenny began listening faster: first at 2x, then she worked her way up to 3x.

Kenny's listening habits may be extreme, but she's not alone. Meet the podfasters, a subset of podcast obsessives who listen to upward of 50 episodes a week, by, like Kenny, listening extremely fast. They're an exclusive group: According to Marco Arment, creator of the Overcast podcast app, only around 1% of Overcast listeners use speeds of 2x or higher. (An app called Rightspeed, which costs $2.99, allows you to listen at up to 10x.)

Yes, I actually do this, and no, I don't blow through recordings at anywhere near 10X speed. But as someone who frequently tunes into replayed webinars, prerecorded vendor training sessions and the like, I'm all for consuming the most information in a reduced amount of time. Being able to take in two one-hour webinars in a single hour without losing comprehension is certainly valuable to me.

I've found that speeding up recordings 1.5X to 2X works best. I do have to make myself focus on the content to understand what's being said, but honestly, I see that as another benefit. Overall though, at this range I can follow along without difficulty. And guess what? You probably can, too.

More from the article:

In fact, according to behavioral neuroscientist Stephen Porges, because recordings played at higher speeds are at a higher pitch, they are actually easier to hear. Low-frequency noises, like street noise, vacuum cleaners, or airplanes, get in the way of our understanding of people talking; by playing podcasts at a higher speed, the listener is creating a greater acoustic differentiation between the words and lower-frequency background noises. According to Porges, the muscles in the middle ear help to dampen low-frequency sound so we can hear speech more clearly — but if we don't exercise those muscles (by, say, not having much human interaction), then they don't work as well. Thus, listening to things at a higher frequency, and speed, could be helpful.

I speed up my recordings in a couple of ways. If it's something I can download in .mp4 format, for example, I'll open it with vlc, go to the menu and select playback/speed. This gives me options to go faster or slower. For YouTube videos that I'll play on Firefox or Chrome, I'll login and click the settings icon, and from there I can set the speed. Various browser plugins also allow you to control video playback speed. Fun fact: These plugins also work with Netflix on your computer, so binge-watching a series can go that much quicker.

Oddly enough, I haven't figured out how to do this with my TV. At least I've yet to find the DVR controls that speed up the content. Admittedly, I'm not that motivated to find a solution, since I can always pop old school DVDs into my computer and use vlc.

Whether you're consuming AIX information or trying to catch up on a favorite TV series, I urge you to explore this. And if you do "speed listen," tell me about it in comments.

Posted January 30, 2018| Permalink

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