Help! I’ve Fallen Into a Podcast and I Cannot Get Up

More low growls– I love my iPod and I have tapped into some really good technical podcasts. I’ve ben able to absorb this while doing my bicycle commute.

But with a technology rising up the charts like a bullet, it sometimes feels like the rush to do things ends up with a flurry of audio dumps that are, well, not so exciting. I downloaded one hour long educational podcast, started pedaling home, and was so bored at the lack of much beyond high brow pontificating. And I stuck with it for 30 minutes, hoping something worthy would slide in. Nada.

Yes, I know I actually was not “trapped”- I can reach down and click to the next track, but with most devices there’s not function for “fast forwarding” through the cruft. You are stuck in a long track from beginning to end.

I am thinking that there is a variation of the quote I thought was attributed to Blaise Pascal:

“I would have written a shorter note if I had more time.”

where the podcast equivalent might be:

“I would have recorded a shorter podcast if I had more time.”

Anybody can blather on into a microphone for an hour. But what if there was more effort in saying more meaningful content in 15 minutes? This is either done by good editing, good segment planning.

I am not saying all podcasts are bad, or that amateur recording is bad, or that all long podcasts are bad. I am not saying it should all be scripted or outlined. There are some fantastic ad-libbers out there. And what I may think is crappo may be of real importance to someone else. But if I take the time to download and listen to an hour long segment of hoo-hah, I surely am not clicking back.

I say consider podcasting a performance, or something with an arc of a plot, or something with a lunch line. But if its full of dead air and waffling fluff, I am clicking next track.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. [cringe]The offending podcast wasn’t a 55 minute session from Calgary, was it?[/cringe]

    As for skipping the crappy sections, I’m not sure if it works on a Shuffle, but on a Regular iPod, you just hold down the “Next track” button and it scans ahead. “Previous track” button scans backward. It’s not a jog shuttle, but it’s enough to get through a couple minutes of crap in an otherwise interesting podcast.

  2. I still haven’t been able to quite get there either…I keep trying…I love IT Conversations stuff when its good. Like today I listened to Lessig and the podcasting panel which were both great. One of the guys on the panel asked the key question as far as I’m concerned…if you can do it in text, why are you doing it in audio? If it’s a link talk, I can’t even click on the links. Bummer. But it’s early. The form will evolve. Educasting might end up being a creative way to reinterpret content instead of report it. That’s when I’ll start listening to more of it.

  3. I don’t think the sweet spot is the audio equivalent of text content. It’s more subtle, but the power and flexibility of being able to access content in times and places where before you couldn’t, or were dead time, is where it sings.

    Technically, I can see it possible for audio to have a URl track, much like the quicktime architecture can have “markers” in audio that are linked to URLs, so that listening on a computer might be able to launch the URLs, or on an audio device might be able to “bookmark” embedded URLs…. well I am just making up ideas.

    I like the “reinterpret” concept, and the more we can push the creation aspect of the audio into the student’s hands, educasting can do more than “lectures on ipods”

  4. When teachers ask me, “What’s this new thing called ‘podcasting’?”, I answer, “Alan Levine calls it ‘yawnCasting.'” I don’t have to say much after that. You should copyright that phrase.

  5. but, keep in mind that’s what people said about blogging when it started. “How boring! A bunch of teenage girls talking about their cats!” – it evolves somewhat…

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