Vlad's Roam Garden

Powered by 🌱Roam Garden

Listen to content in audio form first

For any new piece of content I want to engage with - listen to an audio version of it first

This is often sufficient to get what I was hoping for from a piece ✅

If not - it serves as a first-pass skim read before deeper engagement

This is one of the core pillars of my reading flow — I think reading things in audio form is underappreciated.

Audio form dramatically extends the range of environments and situations when it's convenient for you to read.

I listen to audiobooks, podcasts and TTS version of articles when I bike to places, do chores and sometimes even while taking a shower (though I've been avoiding the latter lately).

This allows me to read more - in fact it increases my reading throughput to a degree that I can first-pass read things faster than I find new things to read!

Read it once mindset

An important stepping stone to make audio form work well for me was overcoming “only read a given thing once” mindset.

What I mean by that is that when I originally started using TTS to read things - after listening to an article - I felt like "I read this, I'm done with it an and don't need to engage with it anymore".

And while it's actually true for many types of content (opinion pieces, news articles, fiction) - I found it that for deeper, more technical pieces - just listening to something once, often wasn't quite satisfactory. I wanted to highlight paragraphs, add notes, play with presented models.

As a consequence I was avoiding listening to all content as I had a vague sense of unease "but what if it's a piece I want to engage deeper with and by listening to it, I'd lose an opportunity to derive full benefit from it".

Eventually I realized that it was silly 🙃

My new process is:

listen to all the content that comes my way first

this is sufficient level of engagement for a large chunk of what I want to read

for things that need deeper engagement

put them on top of the queue of the to-read things

read them again (likely in text form this time), highlight and annotate them, play with models they present, find follow-up reading

Spaced Repetition reminds me to engage with the piece until I mark it as fully processed

I've been previously using a custom automation setup that allowed me to create a podcast feed of transcribed articles from things saved to Instapaper (https://github.com/Stvad/pollycast/ ).

I've since transitioned to mostly using Readwise Reader TTS.

The reason for having custom setup was a better UX for playing audio inside the podcast apps and a better voice quality. Reader TTS got both of those things to a "good enough" stage.