So I did manage to get the last 40 GB iPod in New Jersey right after Christmas and I’ve been starting to play with it in between family gatherings and big meals. Let me first say that I am very psyched about the Belkin microphone adapter I got which allows me to use the iPod as a recording device. I’ve been interviewing my kids, and I can see all sorts of ways to use just that piece of it in the classroom…recording classwork, oral histories, interviews for MovieMaker voice overs. The best part is that it automatically dumps each recording as a .wav file to your hard drive when you sync up with iTunes on your computer. That’s an easy import into Audacity if I wanted to include them in podcasts.
Problem is, I don’t know that I’ll be doing much podcasting in the future. While my two attempts were fun, I guess, I can’t help but wonder what anyone really got out of my droning on about my high-fallutin thoughts on the education world. No links to follow. No way to engage in the ideas. Nothing there that wouldn’t work just as well in a blog post.
And on the listening front, I have to say most of what I’ve heard so far has been pretty uninspiring. At the risk of being snarky, my reaction to today’s daily podcast by one of the A-listers was downright discomfort. References to the horrors in the tsunami stricken countries was peppered with questions about whether or not to each the cheesecake before the guests arrived. The “concern” was so gratuitous that I had to turn it off. And most of what I’ve listened to is either equally self-indulgent or doesn’t get over the would-be-just-as-good-if-not-better-in-a-blog bar. Talking through a list of links that’s posted somewhere else just seems kind of pointless. I have to agree with Alan when he says that most of this comes closer to yawncasting than anything else.
There are some podcasts I do enjoy because they are intended to instruct or make me think rather than spew personal interpretations of the day’s events. For instance, Rob Reynolds at Xplana does a five-minute essay on tech related issues that is obviously well-written beforehand and usually leaves me thoughtful. Or the IT Conversations recordings of tech events or special shows. Some of the Engadget shows are pretty interesting as well. And I’m sure there are others that I’ll find as I continue to dig through the list at iPodder.org.Not all of it is great radio, but at least I feel like it was time well spent.
Of course, as a faithful listener of NPR, my assessment of all of this amateur radio is probably a bit unfair. But I think podcasting should be an attempt to emulate the good stuff we hear on radio not just idle rambling about why one beer is better than another. There should be some reporting, some background work, some meaning.
I’m thinking about how to do that. One idea I like right now is doing some regularly scheduled 20-30 minute interviews with edubloggers to pick their brains about how best to make all of this work in schools and where it might all be going. Or maybe doing some interviews with teachers about what they see the roadblocks are. It would be like research shared through a syndicated MP3 file. I’m open to ideas.
I don’t want to dissuade people from trying the technology and seeing what it and they can do. That’s the only way we’ll see what podcasting might be good for, the old “see what sticks” method. But I’m pretty much finished with the personal podcasting meme. To quote Alan once again, “If I am absorbing content by audio form, it should be because it presents it in a way that extends the information in fresh ways.” If it’s just as good in text, why bother.