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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Pivoting POVs

Netflix is letting people watch things faster or slower with new playback speed controls.

When I read that headline, my first reaction was... outrage.

I thought, "Why on Earth would anybody want to speed up or slow down a movie?!?" And that's the PG-rated version of the thought.

I can understand why people would want or need to adjust the speed of something like a podcast: people can absorb information at different speeds, and the content itself isn't negatively affected by the speed at which it's consumed. I regularly listen to The Pivot Podcast, and always do so at 1.3X: same great content, but faster.

But a movie? The pacing of a scene is often part of the film; if you were to speed up a dramatic pause, or slow down a fast-paced action scene, you're not experiencing the content in the way the Director intended. To me, as a movie-lover, that idea is outrageous.

Then I read the article, and my point of view shifted.

Specifically, it was this paragraph that did it:

Both the National Association of the Deaf and the National Federation of the Blind commended Netflix on adding the playback features. Since captions are slowed down (and also sped up) to keep in time with the images on-screen, it can help deaf people who might prefer the captions at a slightly slower speed, according to Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. On the other side, many people in the blind community “can understand and appreciate audio played at a much faster pace than what might be comfortable for most sighted people,” Everette Bacon, a board member on the National Federation of the Blind, said in a statement.

Allowing peopl