Confession time: I don’t like podcasts.
And I think I know why.
I am a voracious reader. And by voracious, I mean that I often cook with a stirring spoon in one hand and a book in the other. I go through at least a dozen books a months (booksfree is my friend).
So why don’t I like podcasts?
- They’re inconvenient. I don’t have a lot of interrupted listening time, other than at the gym. And frankly, there’s a bizarre cognitive dissonance listening to Tom Johnson interview Bogo Vatovec while I’m lifting weights. I tried listening to a crafting podcast, but that was worse — my brain can’t handle auditory input describing crocheting techniques while simultaneously operating an elliptical machine. So I went back to Dr. Phil on the gym TV. It may rot my brain, but at least it doesn’t hurt.
- They’re inefficient. I can listen to a 30-minute podcast, or I can skim the equivalent text in 90 seconds.
I’ve been thinking about what would make a podcast more appealing to me, and realized that it’s not really the medium I object to, it’s my inability to control the delivery.
I’ll become a podcasting proponent when I perceive these properties:
- Better navigation. Podcasts, like other content, need to be divided into logical chunks. These chunks should be accessible via a table of contents and an index.
- Ability to skim. Podcasts need to provide the audio equivalent of flipping pages in a book or scrolling through a document while only reading the headings.
Depending on the software you use to consume podcasts, you may already have some of the features. For instance, a colleague told me that he listened to my recent DITA webinar at five times the normal speed:
I wanted to let you know about something in particular. I listened to it at 5x fast fwd in Windows Media Player while drinking a coke. My heart is still racing. You should try it. :o)
Do you enjoy podcasts? Do you have any special techniques for managing them efficiently?