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Smart Speed

My Overcast settings screen shows the following:

Smart Speed has saved you an extra 949 hours beyond speed adjustments alone.

That’s a lot of time. I’ve been using Overcast to listen to podcasts since it launched, with years now of what-I’d-call “heavy” podcast listening. I’ve spent most of that time listening on 1.5 or 2x speed, with smart speed always turned on (after all, who can resist number-go-up).

I recently read Keenan’s “Hot Take: It’s okay if we don’t consume all of the world’s information before we die”, and then subsequently also listened to the audioblog version. While listening, I turned off Smart Speed, and it really struck me the difference that I’d been missing all this time. It’s not as though I didn’t intuitively know that the audio was sped up, but there’s something different about listening to people talking to each other without pauses.

For one, you might assume that the speakers are more intelligent: they never need to consider their responses, as they’re always immediately responding. In a similar vein, there’s no context clues as to what one person said that made others on an episode take time to consider - which might be important than something that can be responded to immediately. And of course, as Keenan mentions in his post, for the producers that do edit their audio, using Smart Speed removes the potential to appreciate the pauses as they occur, whether they’re within conversation or somewhere else.

Back to Keenan’s audioblog, you can clearly hear this listening to the end of the podcast as he slows down for emphasis towards the end.

All of this is much better articulated by Simon Sarris in his thoughts on audiobooks, where he notes:

Listening is a skill … Generally the pacing of nearly all media has quickened. Possibly the delivery of “more, faster” is the result of a too-great respect for novelty as an artistic flourish.

Clearly, none of this is groundbreaking - but reconsidering using Smart Speed has been a nice change of pace.