Although more than 3,000 books are published daily, that number is eclipsed by the number of podcasts and videos that are produced. Currently on YouTube there are 81,941,760 videos available. Apple says that they have a billion podcast subscriptions, which are spread across 250,000 unique podcasts in more than 100 languages, and that more than 8 million episodes have been published in the iTunes Store to date. And to make matters more challenging, it appears that Natural Sciences Quill is a software product that automates the writing of articles and business reports. How in the ‘heck’ are we even going to absorb a tiny fraction of that knowledge?
Speed-reading and skim reading have been around for a while, but now some very creative entrepreneurs are starting to unlock listening and viewing speeds. Most of us already know that we can increase the speed in which we can watch a YouTube video, by clicking on the settings icon on the lower right corner of the screen. The same is true when you watch a Udemy or Lydia.com video. You can usually crank those up to 2x normal speed and then slow it down when a concept is a bit more difficult. Try it in small increments. Eventually, you’ll be able to double your viewing capacity as your brain learns to process the data faster.
But this isn’t only happening in the video world.
Podcasts are also consumable at much faster rates – without it going into “Donald Duck” mode. One such app is called Overcast, which speeds things up by eliminating pauses. But that still wasn’t as fast as the 2x feature that video has adopted.
Max Deutsch, a Product Manager at Intuit has created an app called Rightspeed.co. According to Max, in the past 4 months, he’s listened to 23,478 minutes of audiobooks. Everything from Adam Grant’s Originals to The Big Short to the #AskGaryVee book. He said he’s also listened to approximately 10,000 minutes of tech podcasts. It’s a lot of audio — which is mostly afforded by his long commute from San Francisco to Mountain View, and his preference to hear the human voice sped up at 2x or 3x playback speed.
With all this audio being processed by his brain, he started to wonder whether he could train his brain to listen to audio at even faster speeds. His dream was to be able to crunch through a 5 hour audiobook in 20-30 minutes without completely destroying his comprehension. Max pointed to a 2010 study of blind patients, who with zero practice were able to comprehend 25 syllables per second, which is about 7–8x faster than the average audiobook speed. That was enough to convince him to build a prototype.
So Rightspeed.co was born. That’s ‘Lightspeed’ with an ‘R.’ But there was more to just being able to crank up the speed arbitrarily, Max wanted to train his brain to listen at increasingly faster and faster speeds, without giving up on comprehension.
So he added what he calls the ‘killer’ feature. Although he didn’t call it the “Discipline Button,” the Automatic Speed Ramping (ASR) button in Rightspeed.co is designed exactly for this purpose. According to Max, every two minutes, if ASR is active, Rightspeed.co will automatically increment your listening speed by 0.1x. Max says that this might seem super slow (at least to him it does), but this is what he found to be most effective when it comes to disciplining your brain to comprehend at faster and faster speeds. According to his findings, at this rate, during a 30-minute training session, you can work your way up from 2.0x to 3.5x, or from 3.0x to 4.5x.
So how has that worked for Max? He says that every day, at the end of his commute, he surprises himself when he looks down and realizes that he was actually listening at 4.6x or 5.4x. Max says that he is very careful not to make claims like Luminosity on brain training, but he went on to say that he was pleasantly surprised how trainable his own brain really was.
All this seems really exciting. But after training your brain to listen at light speed, one has to wonder what our tolerance would be for hour-long meetings. And then there’s that whole notion of “social nicety” we call small talk. Come on now, don’t you just want to find out?