I have an interesting quirk when it comes to classical music: I like to speed my music up. It's not drastic–usually anywhere from 5 to 15%, depending on the piece–but it is noticeable. I have friends who do similar things with TV programs or movies they might be watching, and it got me thinking about our attention spans. What's the use of consuming sped-up content, and why do we prefer it to normal speed?

Reading a bit more, it appears that content can be consumed at a faster rate–1.25 or 1.5 times faster–with some degree of effectiveness. Speech can be comprehended, at least. As far as long term memory, on the other hand… you're not as likely to remember stuff long-term if you learn this way. Listening to sped-up lectures or educational material might not be a good idea, as tempting as it may seem. For stuff that you don't necessarily need to remember all the details of, like TV shows or movies, speeding them up might be useful for consuming more content in the same amount of time.

But why are we wired to do this? I suppose it might have to do with attention. It's no secret that people's attention spans are getting shorter, aided by modern technology and the ability to jump from one topic to another in an instant. With less time to focus on something, it makes sense that people would want to do as much as possible, hence the faster content.

In the case of my music, though, I obstinately believe that the recordings are just made slower than they ought to be. Tell me that this piece doesn't sound better with a 15% speed increase!