July 14, 2017

Consider Rightspeed, "a $2.99 app that accelerates podcasts in nearly unnoticeable 0.1x increments every two minutes."

"A one-hour podcast that begins at 2x, ends at 5x and takes 17 minutes."
A fourfold speedup sounds entirely sane to Max Deutsch, 24, who says he has speed-listened to 69 audiobooks this year. The faster the speed, he found, the more engaged he was. "That's when I asked myself: I wonder how fast I could actually listen?... It's sort of like the Roger Bannister, four-minute-mile effect.... Until you're told it's possible for a human to listen at this speed, you just decide you can't."...

It does feel sacrilegious, say several podcast listeners, to rush highly produced shows like "Serial" or "Radiolab." The sound, pacing and silence are crucial....
ADDED: I just bought Rightspeed. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts, but I find them too slow to just sit and listen to. Either I'm physically active — mostly walking — or — if I'm sitting — I play a very simple videogame at the same time. You might say, but if you're just sitting, why don't you read, and then you'd automatically go at the right speed? The answer is, I get tired of using my eyes. I read for hours in the morning and early afternoon. Obviously, playing a videogame uses the eyes (albeit in a different way from the reading). I'm interested in seeing if, by using this app, I could be satisfied to just sit and listen.

Another problem I have with audiobooks is that they are read slowly enough that I have time to wander around in my own thoughts. Sometimes I pause the book, but other times I just eventually realize I've been ignoring the book and listening to my own thoughts. If a book were fast enough, it might force me to track the book and not to have my own thoughts activated. That might be good, but it could be bad. Why am I listening if not to stimulate my own thinking? I'm not a student, uploading knowledge for career purposes.

But I'm mostly talking about audiobooks. Podcasts are a different matter. They are often ridiculously slow, because the person is — in the kind of podcast I like — thinking of the words to say in real time. It's nice to have that experience of sharing another person's thought process. But that tends to involve a lot of spaces, uhs, and repetition. But is speeding it up a good solution? Doesn't the humanity of the voice diminish?

AND: I can't get Rightspeed to work with my iPhone audio files. It tells me to connect the phone to my computer and to do everything through iTunes. I don't use iTunes to play my books. I use the Audible app. Why won't it just connect to that? Do I really need to download my books into my iTunes, etc. etc.? This was not intuitive and friendly. [BUT: I am taking the trouble to put the books I want to listen to this way in iTunes. I have a backlog of audiobooks that are too tedious to listen to in the normal way, so this is forcing me to find them in my Audible account, a somewhat worthwhile effort.]

43 comments:

St. George said...

Agr cmpltly! Wh nds vwls? Wst f tm! Mt ndlss wrds. Fstr! Fstr!

Expat(ish) said...

"Speedup" is feature on every office voicemail system - it can save a ton of time to accelerate a VM from 1x to 1.5x if you get a lot of VM. They used to have "skip 5" to get past the "hey, this is Randy from accounting, we met at the all-hands last week?" crap, but that seems to have disappeared.

Consultancies used to train their new hires on this and other critical phone features. Also dinosaur avoidance.

-XC

Ann Althouse said...

I'm surprised anyone is using voicemail anymore.

Why would you leave a voice message instead of emailing? I guess it's if you want to force a phone call response, which seems like a ridiculous imposition.

At the UW, voicemail messages are sent to us in email (the audio is in the email). But you can't reply in email, you have to write down them number and call the person back (if you ever want to). If the person tries to call and you don't answer, they ought to email.

Ann Althouse said...

I associate voicemail with the worst efforts at contacting me, such as from people looking for a lawyer and apparently calling all the law professors.

Kate said...

When I'm gaming I always run subtitles because the voice acting is too slow for me. Poor lips and tongues. Their performance levels are so last century.

traditionalguy said...

Query: Audible faster reading does concentrate the mind since you miss too much when your mind wanders. But who wants their mind to be stopped from wandering.

There is noticeable difference between professional readers and authors reading their own work,including Professors doing their own Great Courses Series. You don't want the author readers sped up.

Shawn Levasseur said...

The podcast app I use, Overcast, takes a unique approach to playback speeds. You can set it to play faster by a set amount, and it has it's own secret sauce to make the acceleration sound more natural than other podcast players. But you can also use it's "smart speed" feature which shortens silences that occur, which saves a lot of additional time. Strangely, it doesn't hurt the rhythm of speech patterns, excepting when there is a long awkward pause that it skips over.

dreams said...

My mind tended to wander when I listened to audio books.

Paco Wové said...

"highly produced shows like "Serial" or "Radiolab.""

One of many reasons I have given up on our local public radio station is the existence of shows like "Radiolab". 5 minutes worth of information, puffed up into 30- or 60- minutes by repetitive and annoying editing and the addition of pointless sound effects and music.

It's as bad as the current state of video documentaries, taking an hour to tell you 10 minutes worth of information.

Eleanor said...

I'd like audible to come with a regional speed speech setting.

sinz52 said...

There are many tutorial videos on the Internet, such as those on YouTube.

They teach you how to do various things like home repair and so on.
But I always speed them up to at least 150% because I just don't have the patience to see the instructor talking, talking, talking or navigating through menus.

I always find myself thinking "Get to the punchline already! Pick up the damn electric drill [or test equipment or whatever] and start using it and let's see how it goes!"

MadisonMan said...

So what do you do with all the time "saved" by speeding the podcasts or audiobooks up?

Ann Althouse said...

"The podcast app I use, Overcast, takes a unique approach to playback speeds. You can set it to play faster by a set amount, and it has it's own secret sauce to make the acceleration sound more natural than other podcast players. But you can also use it's "smart speed" feature which shortens silences that occur, which saves a lot of additional time. Strangely, it doesn't hurt the rhythm of speech patterns, excepting when there is a long awkward pause that it skips over."

That's discussed in the linked article too. Great idea!

Ann Althouse said...

"I always find myself thinking "Get to the punchline already! Pick up the damn electric drill [or test equipment or whatever] and start using it and let's see how it goes!""

I know. It's like they have a conception of the performance that the delay is the real thing, that they're hilarious and charming on the way to the thing that appears to be point. It's like everything is "Car Talk," you know what I mean?

Ann Althouse said...

If so, then speeding it up is missing it.

It's like: "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

Ann Althouse said...

"So what do you do with all the time "saved" by speeding the podcasts or audiobooks up?"

Which is more likely:

1. You gaze into the face of your loved ones and talk to them straight from your heart.

2. You listen to more podcasts and audiobooks.

wild chicken said...

Funny plain old reading seems so convenient compared to other means. Audio, video, slow. I enjoy an occasional podcast but usually just can't get myself to listen.

Gotta credit the internet for the revival of reading and writing.

traditionalguy said...

Interestingly,the well educated under 25ish people all print everything including their signature. They lack cursive handwriting. The end of an era is happening.

rhhardin said...

I use it to slow down disclaimers in ads.

tcrosse said...

On one episode of Father Ted he tries to say a mass as quickly as possible. Hilarity ensues.

David-2 said...

I thought I was the only one who can't stand audiobooks because boring - way too slow. I'm going to try something like this if I can find one for Android.

BTW, Ann, you can't play iTunes audio files directly because iTunes is a closed environment, just like everything else Apple. You've got to somehow have a direct relationship with Apple to get that, and small indie developers like this guy are just out in the cold.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I can't do audio books when driving long distances because I tend to get immersed in the book, visualize the action and tend to not concentrate on my driving. I find myself more engrossed in the story "in my head" than the merging traffic coming at me at 80 mph. My mind is wandering all over the place

Audio books are annoying because:

1. you can't skim through the boring parts or the corny sex scenes that add nothing to the plot.

2. often the reader's voice is at a jarring and even hilarious juxtaposition to the dialogue. Mentioned before but worth repeating but Morgan Freeman reading the dialogue of a little girl just made me laugh so much that the rest of the audio book was never going to be serious.

3. the reader putting on a really bad accent. Worse than Hillary's bein' no ways tard.

4. you can't flip backward to re read a passage that may have been a clue to the plot, but you didn't make the connection the first time you read it. I often bookmark a page that I want to refer back to...Kindle is good for that!

clint said...

Kate said...
"When I'm gaming I always run subtitles because the voice acting is too slow for me. Poor lips and tongues. Their performance levels are so last century."

Where's Laslo when he's needed?

clint said...

St. George said...
"Agr cmpltly! Wh nds vwls? Wst f tm! Mt ndlss wrds. Fstr! Fstr!"

Srsly, lol.

richlb said...

Of course back in the day radio stations would slightly speed up the records (remember those?!) in order to get more songs in AND more commercials in.

Levi Starks said...

You're too responsible...

Sample Commenter said...

Just read that if I update my Audible app, it has speed control! Sweet!

Paul Graves said...

I am currently listening to "Finding by Theft," the David Sedaris collection of diary entries. Now that I am, I read everything in his voice, including this post, which, now that I listen to it in my head that way, could well have been written by Sedaris himself.

Sample Commenter said...

Verizon stopped providing visual voicemail, and I am about ready to dump them for that reason.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Which video games do you play, Professor?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Has anyone tried the "one word at a time" speed reading method, with Spritz or RSVP or any similar programs?

Ann Althouse said...

The video games I use are just a very ordinary playing cards solitaire or a thing of Mah Jonng tiles that you try to unstack by finding pairs.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am currently listening to "Finding by Theft," the David Sedaris collection of diary entries. Now that I am, I read everything in his voice, including this post, which, now that I listen to it in my head that way, could well have been written by Sedaris himself."

Thanks, I guess.

Maybe I was influenced and I'm hearing his voice as I write.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...The video games I use are just a very ordinary playing cards solitaire or a thing of Mah Jonng tiles that you try to unstack by finding pairs.

I used to hammer the Mah Jonng game that came with Windows 95 (maybe it was 98?), clicky-clicky-clicky-click.
But you know, you're retired now, maybe you should indulge yourself and play an extraordinary solitaire or card game. Such a thing must exist.

I do like "use" as the verb for your game experience. Very purposeful, very clinical; much more professional than "play." We should try to work "take" back into the common lexicon: "I took a game of Gears of War after dinner last Thursday."

Boxty said...

BSPlayer for Android allows you to do the same while watching YouTube videos on your phone. The YouTube mobile app doesn't have that feature.

I listen to talk shows at about 1.25x speed. It doesn't distort the sound and everybody sounds more eloquent. I seem to be able to absorb the material better.

Lem said...

I can't watch most of the redsox live stream games because of my work schedule. But when they win, I watch the condensed video of the game, which is usually around 15 minutes.

MadisonMan said...

The only audiobooks I'll listen to are generally mysteries, on long car rides. (Long = >6 hours)

I'm currently reading an actual book that I bought. It's very long and puts me to sleep sometimes, just like all books should.

Unknown said...

I use the Audible app and frequently use the option to speed the speech up. The app will go up to 3x and as low as .75x. I've never done faster than 1.25.

Ann Althouse said...

"I used to hammer the Mah Jonng game that came with Windows 95 (maybe it was 98?), clicky-clicky-clicky-click.
But you know, you're retired now, maybe you should indulge yourself and play an extraordinary solitaire or card game. Such a thing must exist."

But that's not what I want. I'm just trying to relax my otherwise too active mind. I want something plain and completely ordinary (if not dull).

"I do like "use" as the verb for your game experience. Very purposeful, very clinical; much more professional than "play." We should try to work "take" back into the common lexicon: "I took a game of Gears of War after dinner last Thursday.""

I chose "use" deliberately, because I really am using it, not playing it. I don't care if I win, I don't try to go fast, I don't keep score in any way. I am trying to listen to the book and keep my mind from wandering. Frankly, I also use solitaire when I'm having a conversation. It helps me listen and keeps me from generating too many of my own thoughts.

rcocean said...

I can't sit and just listen to an audiobook. I'm almost always exercising or driving my car or even pacing up and down.

As for the listening speed, it depends on the author. I'm listening to Maugham's Moon and Sixpence with a great Narrator, so I enjoy almost every word. OTOH, I tried to listen to Toobin's book on the SCOTUS and I quit after 1 hour. He has no style and the book just ambles and rambles along - its definitely something that needs to be listened to at 1.5 or even 2.O speed.

Most of the BHTV DV's are much better when sped up. Even Limbaugh would be better at 1.5x speed.

rcocean said...

Almost all of NPR would sound better at 1.5x or 2.0x speed. God, they drone along.

Achilles said...

Been listening to Audible Books at 3.0 speed for a while. I would try to speed them up faster but that is the highest setting.

Sample Commenter said...

1.5x on Audible sounds almost completely natural to me. Any faster and it starts to take focus to listen. I guess with practice, that will change.