Over the last several months of writing this blog. I have found myself listening to fewer podcasts. Writing does not come naturally to me. It takes a lot of concentration, and unlike coding up a webpage, performing housework, or laying out a design, I cannot distract myself with a prerecorded conversation while I write. In fact the only time I have to listen to podcasts these days is during my 15 minute walk to and from work, or while I am out on a run. I have to pick and choose what I am going to listen to during these valuable moments while I am disconnected from the rest of the world, and sometimes the most appropriate choice is not to listen to anything at all.
Podcasts have a lot of competition for my spare time. When I am not writing I am often reading. Randy Murray is a professional author who like me spends more of his time reading rather than listening to podcasts. For him the allure of reading over listening seems to come from his control over the written word.
Text I can read at my speed. I can scan and power through a lot of words in a short period of time. But a podcast means that I pretty much have to listen at the rate it’s delivered.
I listen to my podcasts at double speed, but like Randy find it difficult to navigate a podcast by topic. Humans cannot quickly scan through recorded content like they can with written words. Listening to a podcast is like driving a train. You can speed it up or slow it down, but every time you fast forward or rewind you are driving in a tunnel. You have to reestablish you location each time you come out of the dark. With my limited time I would much rather scan for the content I want to read rather than navigate past the content I don’t want to listen to.
Audiobooks are another one of my distractions that are taking time away from podcasts. Audiobooks have chapters that help me navigate even when I am fast forwarding or rewinding. Of course with an edited audiobook I am less likely to find myself fast forwarding past part of the story.
Many podcasts are conversations between other people, which, while sometimes interesting, are not necessarily compelling and are often filled with awkward pauses and overrun with verbal ticks, like “um.” I just don’t enjoy sitting at my desk and listening to other people talk, especially for more than a few minutes at a time.
The difference between a podcast and an audiobook is the difference between conversation and literature. Publishing a podcast is as easy as recording whatever comes to mind. Recording an audiobook requires multiple written and spoken revisions inorder to reach an acceptable level of quality. That’s not to say their aren’t high quality, edited podcasts available, I just have never run into any that didn’t sound like a speech given to an absent audience.
The podcasts I enjoy most are the ones with a set agenda.
Short, focused content with professional production values. And not too frequent a release schedule. Frankly, daily podcasts are just too much for me to keep up with. Weekly is much more in line with what I can actually listen to.
Unlike Randy Murray I can listen to podcasts over an hour in lengh, but they have to stay focused. Too many of my former podcast favorites have found their way off of my listening list just as soon as they found their way off track.
Former Podcast Favorites
- This Week in Tech RSS
- This Week in Google RSS
- MacBreak Weekly RSS
- The Tech Guy RSS
- This Week In Computer Hardware RSS
- FLOSS Weekly RSS
- This Week in Law RSS
- Diggnation RSS
- This Week in Photo RSS
- Photofocus RSS
- Boagworld RSS
Current Podcast Favorites
- Back to Work RSS
- The Big Web Show RSS
- Build and Analyze RSS
- Hypercritical RSS
- The Pipeline RSS
- Security Now! RSS
- The Talk Show RSS
- Windows Weekly RSS
- The Hello Show RSS
The podcasts I listen too today are not entirely free of fault. With the exception of Security Now most do not follow a strict agenda, but what I gain from the off-topic conversation I deem valuable for now. I am sure as time goes by my list of podcasts will change to meet my evolving interests and stricter tolerances as a listener.