Revenge of the Pod People

I'm still somewhat behind in my blog posts reflecting my experience of the Learning 2.0 programme at Imperial. Week 7 (three weeks ago) was on podcasts and multimedia.

First a bee in my bonnet about podcasts. I always get annoyed when people refer to an online mp3 file as a 'podcast' – it isn't – stop it! A podcast is a series of audio (possibly multimedia?) files distributed via an RSS feed. Perhaps the mechanics aren't that important – but I think a key point is that it is something that can automatically appear on your iPod (or other mp3 player) at regular intervals, without any need for intervention – that is what is so great about them. If the things I list below were just shoved on the web as an mp3 file, I'm pretty sure I'd never listen to them. The key is that, like RSS, is that the information comes to you, not the other way round.

Now I've got that off my chest, I do enjoy a few podcasts, although I tend towards the 'professional' end of the market. The main issue I have is finding the time. Like the radio, I don't tend to listen to things at home, but more often when travelling. When I travelled to work by train/tube I had an ideal time to listen to podcasts that had downloaded to my iPod. However, I now try to cycle to work at least 3 times a week, which has cut my opportunity to listen to anything. However, I still save them up, and on long car journeys they provide a welcome break from the radio.

My favourites are all Guardian produced ones:
Media Talk
Tech Weekly
Science Weekly

These and others are free from – or of course, iTunes store (which is where I get them so they load automatically to my iPod/iPhone)

I also enjoy the BBC World Service podcast 'Digital Planet' which is presented by Imperial College's own Gareth Mitchell . The Radio 4 Friday evening comedy show (usually one of "The Now Show" or the "News Quiz" depending on the time of year) is also available, so I keep subscribed to that.

I sometimes listen to the Talking with Talis podcasts (, but find them slightly drier. I suppose the issue here is that I'm trying to absorb information – it's a bit less 'leisure', and I don't find the medium as good for that – essentially someone else is setting the pace at which I get the information, whereas if I'm reading it, I have control – I can't 'skim listen' in the way I can skim read.

Other multimedia stuff – I enjoy the occasional viral on YouTube – "Charlie bit my finger" is a particular favourite. I'd also recommend having a look at the talk about YouTube given by Michael Wesch at the Library of Congress – it's a fascinating examination of YouTube. In fact, just about any video by Michael Wesch is probably worth a look – and The Machine is Us/ing Us is four and a half minutes of thought provoking brilliance – so good, I've decided to embed it here – watch it now!

However, by far the biggest impact on me when it comes to online multimedia has been the iPlayer ( – this is absolutely brilliant. We (my wife and I) regularly catchup with stuff via the iPlayer, either on our laptop, iPhone, or on the TV (we have a Mac Mini hooked up to the TV in our bedroom) – combined with our PVR it means we watch less and less TV as it is broadcast.

One thought on “Revenge of the Pod People

  1. Thanks for the pointers…
    I’ve never quite got to grips with podcasts for some reason. Not totally sure why… but suspect it has something to do with their more intrusive nature (compared with reading text for example) – intrusive in the sense of having less control over the ability to skim listen (as you mention above). I appreciate that in other ways they are less intrusive, e.g. when driving a car or walking – unfortunately, as a bike-commuter, I don’t do either of those things very often (at least, not in a context where I want to listen to work-related podcasts).
    So, on that basis, I’m still not sure I will get into podcasting now, but at least I’ve got some decent content to tempt me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.