Lend Me Your Ears

It's easier to listen to a story than to read it.

Reading is faster, and you can control it better, and you can do it on your own, but it still takes more effort.

People who'd never think of picking up a book - or even reading an entire wikipedia article - will happily sit through long chalk-and-talk lectures on youtube. Audio books, once aimed only at the blind and the elderly, are having a major resurgence - name any popular book, fact or fiction, published in the last ten years, and you can guarantee that Amazon, Audible or someone similar have MP3 versions. Voice actors are now in constant demand, and it's not just Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter - you can hear Richard Dawkins reading his own polemics, or George Carlin performing the book versions of his own standup performances.

For the last few years, half of my bedtime reading has been done with eyes closed. I set my laptop to generate MP3s of almost-human-sounding voices reading chapters of ebooks, with speed and precision and tirelessness that a real person could never manage. I put them on my audio player (which occasionally also functions as a phone) and thus do most of my learning when I'm too tired to be learning.

So I thought: Is it only me who likes having a robot whisper in his ears, or could other people benefit too?

Well, here's a little experiment. On my youtube channel, you can listen to...the first famous and public-domain text I thought of.

You can also read along if you like, or use one of the many youtube downloaders to put it on your phone.

1 comment:

  1. I actually prefer reading to listening. I'm so easily distracted if try to listen to something while I'm doing something else. Much to my surprise, when I listened to the first five minutes of this, the speed reading actually engaged my brain more than normal paced audio books.