QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded


This is just one of those things I can't get into. I continually find that people want to have me listen to podcasts. I see blogs like Popehat essentially die with a podcast replacement, and people I read on Usenet and elsewhere say "listen to this podcast to find out about X or Y".

Such entreaties to move from reading to listening do not sit well with me. I don't mind listening to the radio while in the car or in my shed workshop. And sometimes what I'm listening to is a podcast on the radio, such as the excellent 99 Percent Invisible which I used to hear on KALW sometimes during driving-kids-to-school rides (but not in a long time now).

But listening to stuff when it is convenient and stopping what I am reading to go listen to stuff are two vastly different things. And it is pretty much never convenient to go download something and listen to it. I make an effort a couple of times a week to download and view videos I see people reference, but it is an effort and most youtube links will just get a glance at the title of the video, not a view.

My wife has listened to a few podcasts, some of them while I'm around, but she's not a big consumer of the format. I listened to an episode of Serial season one with her while we worked together in the kitchen. She finished the season, I didn't, she never continued with the later seasons.

It doesn't help that a lot of podcasts, like a lot of the content on youtube, seems to take a small amount of content and stretch it out over a long period of time. This is just the opposite of how I find most radio to be: longer stories tightly edited to fit in a shorter period of time. I suppose the appeal to some people is the more conversational nature of the content, but a conversation I can't participate in is not a strong draw for me.

With the written word, I can easily read slower or faster to pay closer attention to complicated bits or skim over filler. I can easily stop and reseach something mentioned to get more backstory or more details. In audio (or video) that is a lot more difficult. No exact spellings of things, for starters.

If something is only available in podcast form, it's basically content that will never, ever reach me. And no matter how much people say "you should listen to" I'm saddened by the choice of format.