I can’t remember when it was exactly, but at some point over the last year and a half I discovered podcasts. I had been aware that such things existed, but I’d never really seen the point — I tend towards reading to gain information, or reading or watching movies for entertainment. Those are both visual activities. Does that tell something about me? I don’t know.
If you’re not familiar with the term (although I suspect anyone who reads blogs knows what it means) podcasts are regular (or not) audio recordings that you can subscribe to using iTunes or other podcast-aware software, or even any old RSS reader, so that you receive new episodes automagically. The idea is then to listen to them however you like. My preference is while I’m driving (which doesn’t work so well for the video variety, but there’s only one of those that I subscribe to).
As for content, if you can think of it there’s probably a podcast out there. It ranges from something very akin to the ‘radio’ shows my brother and I used to record to cassette and demand our parents listen to, back well before our voices broke, to language resources, content from various radio stations, comedians known and unknown, current affairs, punditry, sermons from the services of countless churches… Masses of stuff. If you use iTunes, I suggest you look up the music store and have a browse.
The ones I listen to are dominated by tech topics: the Guardian’s Tech Weekly is pretty poor, but an easy listen, I’m a big fan of MacBreak Weekly and (slightly less so) of This Week in Tech from Leo Laporte’s TWiT network, various web-y and developer-y shows and some general gadget punditry.
I also track the sermon audio from a couple of churches, and a few of the ‘casts put out by BBC Radio 4 — a tremendous amount of BBC content is available, occasionally marred by rights issues forcing music to be omitted.
I used to subscribe to many more, but I only spend so much time in the car when I can listen. That, plus my relatively recent discovery of audiobooks (something else I dismissed as pointless until I actually tried it), means that I’ve had to dramatically reduce the subscription list.
Even so, I’m always interested in new discoveries, so if you have any recommendations then please let me know.
(An aside on audiobooks: while I love to read, and could accurately be described as being a bit ‘funny’ about books, I’ve discovered that there can be something seemingly more immediate, more visceral, about the text read aloud. It’s worth exploring.)