Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

The Verge’s John Lagomarsino wants you to stop speeding up your podcasts:

Radio — like film, music, TV, theater, and dance — is a temporal art. It relies on the passage of time to play with anticipation, tension, and release. A good radio producer knows how long a thought will linger in a listener’s consciousness, and either grants her that time, or purposely denies it. A conversation between two hosts is riddled with pregnant pauses and interruptions designed to head off miscommunications. We’re used to these patterns, and a good podcast is paced to play into them. Why, then, should we mess with that balance in the name of efficiency?

Lagomarsino cites the dramatic and deliberate pauses in shows like This American Life and Serial — and even The War of the Worlds — as instances where a podcast app’s speed adjustment feature would ruin the moment. But most podcasts aren’t like Serial; most podcasts are a few guys talking aimlessly about topics that interest them. For every This American Life that’s made worse by a speed adjustment feature, there’s a 5 By 5 show that’s made unquestionably better by such a feature.1

Podcast acceleration features are there because the people who build podcast apps also listen to podcasts. Most podcasts simply don’t respect the listeners’ time.

  1. I don’t mean to rag on 5 By 5, but the network is full of shows that are little more than casual banter. ↩︎