Media Consumption

One perennial debate about podcasts is how fast to listen to them. In today’s match, on one side, The Verge:

“I know you’re busy, and you have a lot on your plate, and there are so many shows to keep up with, but you need to stop listening to podcasts sped up to 1.5x. You need to open yourself up to love.” – The Verge

and on the other:

Listen to podcasts at whatever speed you want – Marco Arment

I can see both sides of the argument. In the end of the day, it gets down to control and production effort, but both of today’s debaters miss this point.

“Enjoying the full experience of all media and preserving “what the artist intends” is a romantic ideal, but it’s both overrated and unrealistic in reality.” – Marco Arment

That’s square on the control point, but only sees one side. The core control issue is that the consumer wants to pull out of the larger block of media, be it a record album, podcast, or video, the part which directly interests them – without having to experience the “other.” I suppose this is a logical progression of the “shuffle, remix, and give me my stuff for free” culture prevalent on the Internet.

Give me my stuff for free… Aka the Napster Genie…

Let’s face it, podcasts are just flat out slow ways to consume information, both Marco and The Verge make that point in their own way. They’re poorly indexed, impossible to search, and impossible to (deep) link. They’re that way, because producing those things takes time – more time that the podcasts (and YouTube, etc.) creators are willing to devote to it. That’s the battle really, the consumers sense value in the creatives work, but can’t get at it, so they strip mine it. Brutally.

As a creator and a consumer, the whole thing just rubs my fur the wrong way.

If the creatives want consumers to change behaviors, they have to address their core needs. Smart Speed and/or 1.5x speed are woefully inadequate. The meta-animations that populate YouTube are pale versions of Cliff Notes. For those that would argue, these are just throwaway stories so not worth the effort, then why the hell am I wasting my time on it?