So, I have something to share. I'm not exactly proud of it, but I haven't been able to help myself…
I've been listening to and watching educational content at 2x for the last few years.¹
I enjoy it so much that I won't consume something if it's not available at the increased playback speed.
And I've consumed a significant amount of material as a result. Mostly audiobooks via Audible but YouTube videos and the occasional podcast too.²
But what about comprehension?
I know. I know. Some will say the furious speed of consuming content at 2x is inferior to the comprehension found sitting to read a book. And sure, at times, it's certainly had an impact on my comprehension, but I don't care.
The mere exposure to such a variety of ideas has been more valuable than anything else.
If I find a concept or idea valuable enough and I don't think I've grasped it, then I'll spend more time on it or slow it down.
I have my Airpods setup so double-tapping the left headphone will jump back a few seconds if my mind wanders and I miss something.
Ultimately, it's up to me to make the most of the material consumed. Why would I waste my own time?
And comprehension is often just the start of knowledge's utility. It's most useful when applied.
That's the comprehension I'm after.
Knowledge is nothing without application.— Corey Gwin (@corey_gwin) November 4, 2019
Learn by doing.
Physical vs. Audible vs. Visual
I'll often buy the physical version of the book if I dig the content. Audio is easier for me to consume but I like having the book on hand to later remind or reference.
Books are also helpful for skimming — which to me is the biggest drawback of consuming audibly. I'll highlight and bookmark a book as necessary. Put it on the bookshelf as a reminder. Often I'll skim a book and to help me jump to that section in the audio.
And I don't finish every book. Sometimes they're too long, boring, or I get the gist quickly enough.
Listening is mostly convenient. It's a form of forced focused. Content is streamed to the brain through my ears. And I can do it while doing something that doesn't demand my full attention like running, exercise, walks, chores, driving, etc.
Interestingly (and disturbingly), I don't like listening to myself at 1x—from Loom videos I've provided clients or podcasts interviews I've conducted or been in myself. At 2x, my stumbling about and pauses disappear. My points are made more quickly.
I think this is why I like listening to others at an increased speed too. In fact, some authors and YouTubers I'm more accustomed to listening at 2x that it's odd when I hear their actual tonality.
Curiously, I've also found myself watching many videos with subtitles too. I think it helps with focus and comprehension at the increased speed. Can also help scan quickly through visual or audible content.
Which leads me to my next thought.
What does my desire to do this mean?
The Future at 2x
I think it'd be awesome if more publishers made the audio and physical book available at the same time for the reasons above.
Audio for consumption. Book for scanning and reference.
Even more interesting, would be a new media format that could transform between all three modalities of text, audio, and video. This makes it so all the benefits of each modality are always available.
Text for navigating, scanning, highlighting and bookmarking.
Audio for ease of consumption and at higher rate.
Video for visual engagement on social media and focused consumption, story telling, demonstration or entertainment.
Some ideas for the future:— Corey Gwin (@corey_gwin) January 10, 2019
Indicate tonality, inflection or emotion in text (w color or size?).
Generate audio in speaker's voice with avatar video from text.
A medium that incorporates and transmutes the three using above as necessary. Easily consume and produce between them.
I've experimented using Headliner as a form of this. For example, Spearhead is using Headliner below for clips from its blog post content for social media.
The audio-to-text transcription it offers is slick, but not 100% accurate. That, unfortunately, makes it quite a hassle. It'll be interesting to see how podcasting influences this media type.
Certainly, there is a difference between how content is written (e.g. stylistically, distillation and for SEO) versus how it's spoken at the moment. Speaking thoughts is far more efficient as a producer. But reading spoken thoughts is jerky, especially if needing to be timed with audio since you have to wait for the speaker for the words to show up or vice versa.
And being concise and clear in thought is particularly why writing is so beneficial. You have time to get it right. On the spot, speaking can be tough.
Perhaps there's technology to make the whole dictation, podcast, post, tweet all at once doable? Something like a Headliner's transcription + VlogEasy for content generation?
I'll just have to wait for my access to Lyrebir AI. 👀
- Ok, the average is more like 1.5x but I generally start at 2x until I know if it's something I need to care about. Then I'll dial it down to 1.75x. And if I can't lock it in then, down to 1.5x.
- I typically don't spend much time on podcasts as I don't know which episodes will be useful or not. I'll tend to wait for recommendations, a guest I know I'll value or for show notes — so I don't waste time.