I’ve wondered why people are so enamored with podcasts for a while. There’s a few I listen to sometimes, but then I don’t for a long time. Maybe if you have a long commute? The problem I have is they are hard to skim and it seems a rather slow way to convey information. How do I refer back to it later to verify something? Etc., etc.
But reading this article, something clicked. Ads in podcasts are very basic. You can skip them. The interface of your chosen player is your chosen player, not some wild ass web framework designed to make reading difficult. Despite inherent limitations of the audio format, there’s very little opportunity for publishers to “add value” here. Users like that.
I think a lot of it is commute time. I listen to podcasts/talks at 1.3-1.8x speed while doing mindless chores, and never otherwise. They fill empty air, people seem to have become allergic to silence the last decade or two.
I love silence! But I’d rather listen to a podcast than to those around me chatting about nothing, or heavy machinery workers outside and so on, and so on.
The problem I have is they are hard to skim and it seems a rather slow way to convey information.
If your goal is information consumption, podcasts are a terrible format. Fortunately, they’re a great format for a number of other things! Here are the types of podcasts I’ve tried listening to and my success with them:
Interviews - The podcast format shines brightest here. No time limits and no agendas means you get rawer, more interesting interviews than you’ll get in any other medium. I listen to almost every episode of The Tim Ferriss Show and The James Altucher Show. Both fantastic interviewers (albeit with very different styles) and both get some amazing guests (names you know, names you forgot, and very interesting people with little to no following outside of their niche). Recent standouts are Jamie Foxx, Cal Fussman, and Derek Sivers on Ferriss' podcast, and Jesse Itzler and Derek Sivers on Altucher’s.
Programming - Very hit or miss. Mostly miss, generally a waste of time. I’ve tried a ton and none have delivered any value to me regularly. I catch an occasional episode if a topic really interests me and the people on it are people I care to listen to.
Tech News - Just poor entertainment, not informative. I haven’t listened to any in a long time and am better off for it.
Entertainment - Banter podcasts, usually with 2-4 hosts. I listen to these just because they put a smile on my face. I got into the GiantBomb podcasts a few years ago, at a time when I wasn’t playing any video games, to listen to their “game of the year deliberation podcasts” for reasons that I’ve now forgotten. I ended up just enjoying the banter and dynamics of the hosts so much that I’ve been listening to the podcast ever since (and the other podcasts that their site puts out).
Bonus: Audiobooks - Some books don’t translate well to audio, and some people can’t focus on (usually) a single narrator speaking for hours on end, but my preferred way to consume books for a few years now has been in this format. It’s like books, but you can read them when you’re washing dishes or folding laundry or eating a meal!
Is that so different than a poorly written article? Bad grammar, silly formatting, poor vocabulary, inline ads and other nonsense can all make an article difficult to read and almost impossible to skim.
I avoid reading poor articles just as I stop listening to podcasts that don’t understand their audience or otherwise don’t consider my time valuable.
I agree completely regarding ability to refer back to content. Pretty
much the only podcast I listen to is Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio
That works; and a lot of radio shows could work too, but as a means of
conveying reference technical information I don’t think it’s a great
medium. (Although better than radio, given you can rewind if you need
I listen to podcasts (typically humorous ones) when I’m gaming solo / non-competitively. I wouldn’t otherwise enjoy podcasts, because they’re (usually) not enough to focus on. This way they just take up some spare cycles when I’m doing other things.
It depends on the podcast and the player, but a lot of the better produced tech ones I listen to keep “show notes”, which are generally either links or topic/product/people names in a chronological order, that can be included in the RSS feed and parsed for display alongside the audio.
Podcasts are a great way to learn/get entertained while
They have all the limitations you mention, that’s why they’re not a great medium to replace blogs. If you look at the use cases, they’re basically radio 2.0.