Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Quality Podcasts

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Podcast icon I have never been a big fan of podcasts. Mostly because the content of most podcasts doesn’t interest me and every nice music podcast I ran across in the past just happened to close down. Yet, there seems to be quite a bit of hipster expression in the podcast medium and links to specific episodes are passed to me every now and again.

Thankfully, most podcasts are made in a way that you don’t need to subscribe to them and can just listen to that single episode in the web browser. Which technically takes both the ‘pod’ and the ‘cast’ out of the podcast, but hey… (Less thankfully, extremely few podcast makers go all the way and provide a reasonably good description or even transcript of the recording).

What surprises me every single time I listen to such podcasts is that (a) their technical quality seems quite high which indicates that this is either really easy to achieve (which I suspect as the lack of transcripts suggests that people don’t really want to make an effort) or people spend a lot of time making them while (b) I don’t really mind low production quality as long as you can understand what is said in the recording.

In fact, I tend to despise ‘high’ production quality. As it only seems to have taken the podcasting world a very short span of time to start sounding exactly like radio. Opening with a half minute self-presentation that nobody wants to listen to and wasting their listeners’ time that way. Having silly jingles in the background with that. Presumably trying to create a ‘brand’ that way. And if I’m already annoyed by that when listening to a single episode of a podcast once in a while, what do the regular listeners say?

Audio is just more obtrusive than visuals. On a web page, I can see the page’s design and it helps me recognise the page. Yet, I can just skip over it and start reading the text without losing time. In an audio recording, however, it’s much harder to skip over that kind of vanity frame. Navigation in audio progress ‘bars’ (or rather ‘sliders’) usually isn’t very precise and there’s no button to skip over the introduction with a single click. If people must ‘brand’ their podcasts in that way, I suggest they attach their jingle at the end of the recording – giving essential information to those who want it and an easy way to bail out to everybody else.

This may sound ungrateful because –  uh – someone went through the hassle of making a podcast and in exchange I can sit through their jingles… yet that isn’t the way the web works. Usually you end up on sites not because you want to adore the people who made them but because Google thought they could be relevant for the keywords you were interested in. You’ll only take note of the page’s writer or speaker after what (s)he does appeared interesting, helpful, charming or whatever to you.

October 11, 2006, 1:49

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