Podcasting is an established, but still emerging means of listening to your favorite stories or talk show personalities. It is not an issue of what types of content people want to listen to; it’s finding the time to enjoy listening to them. Perhaps this is what has sparked the newest trend—is speed-listening the new speed-reading?
Overcast, a free podcast-listening app for iOS, was developed by Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, and launched in 2014 after almost a year of improvement. Arment wanted people to be able to enjoy content faster by implementing the Smart Speed feature, which dynamically shortens silences without distortion, and Voice Boost, which boosts and normalizes the volume so every episode is loud, clear and always the same level. Not only does it help you listen to your favorite podcasts faster, the app also increases the quality of many entertaining but poorly produced podcasts.
People are increasing the speed not only on podcasts, but on audio books as well. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III is a work of tragedy and suspense available on audio that runs for nearly 14 hours. However, one listener, Babu Krishnamurthy, cut the listening time in half by hitting fast forward.
It seems as though society’s need for instant gratification is changing the way we consume the media. These people are the active and the insatiable listeners who want to enjoy as much content as possible, even if the delivery is rushed—and by rushed I mean a speed of 1.5 to 2 times the normal rate. For some, however, this accelerated trend seems to be working, as evidenced by the success of apps like Overcast.
Others may not see time saving as enough reason to pick up the pace. I, personally, prefer to take my time, appreciate each word the author chose for the purpose of the book, and let the intended message sink in on its own time. Listening to the content at an increased pace often does not allow for that, and, particularly for literature, some of the charm of the author’s specific word choice is lost. In the end, it all comes down to preference: do you want to take your time, or save some time?
So will speed-listening become the new speed-reading? Only fast-forwarded time will tell.
Did You Know?
In 2011, Adam Carolla, host of The Adam Carolla Show, earned the title of most downloaded podcast, according to Guinness World Records. Carolla received 59,574,843 unique downloads, overtaking the previous record set by The Ricky Gervais Show.