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Am I the only one who doesn’t usually enjoy podcasts or video blogs?

I get the appeal. You can listen to or watch your favorite people talk about or demonstrate topics that interest you at times that are convenient for you. That’s cool.

Here’s the deal: even though I think these are a pretty neat idea, I almost never listen to or view them.


Well, I suppose part of it could be that I am a very fast reader. I average two or three books a week, somewhere between 600 and 1500 pages. Some weeks I read more, a lot more. Other weeks I am involved in projects and am not able to read as much as I would prefer. Still, I’m not convinced this is the reason.

What I love about text is that I can scan it quickly. I can look for the parts that interest me. I can read and reread those parts over and over until I am satisfied. I am able to interact with the written word far more efficiently than I can the spoken word. I never feel like my time is being wasted, because I am in control over the pacing and what I absorb and when.

I would actually prefer to read the full text of a speech than I would enjoy listening to it, with a few rare exceptions. There are times, though, where I discover a text so compelling in its message and style that I can’t allow myself to skim, but I find that I must savor each and every word, every thought, every phrase.

Voice and video communications are capable of transferring some types of information much better than the written word. I love a quality film made by an artistic and talented director. There have been radio shows that have sent chills up and down my spine due to the writing and voice talent.

Sadly, it is an extremely rare podcast or video blog that doesn’t leave me feeling like my time would have been better spent just reading a transcript. I’ll admit, that’s why I rarely watch TV, never listen to talk radio, and do not often enjoy movies. I feel like my time is being wasted. If I am to sit at the mercy of a presenter of information with no real control over what I hear/view when (because there are not obvious road signs or maps likes tables of contents or indexes, and because I do not have an easy ability to skip what disinterests me and go directly to what fascinates me) then I want to be “sucked in,” so intrigued both by the message and the means by which the medium is conveying the message that I fail to notice the passage of time. A podcast or video blog like that would receive an instant-subscribe from me.


  1. Horatio

    I guess everyone is different. I can read a book and hardly remember what it was about but if I hear an audio book or podcast I usually remember most of it.

  2. Andy

    I haven’t found a spot for video podcasts, but audio is good for driving or walking. When I take the dog to the park, if I’m going at a time when there will be no one around then I’ll often listen to a podcast. When I’m going for a long drive, podcasts also work pretty well for me.

  3. markus

    I play World of Warcraft and listen to podcasts at the same time.
    Thats about 20 hours / week

    I don’t watch TV any more (it is just boring)

  4. The link in comment #2 was well worth the time it took to listen to it, which makes it one of the few podcasts I am actually glad to have spent my time hearing. I am also thrilled that the text of the podcast is available at

  5. Herman Bos

    I never watch them either. As far as video goes on the internet i only use youtube once in a while to check out some nostalic cartoon intro’s or something else that gets mentioned in the office.

    Oh I also watched some instruction video on how to tie my tie, i still suck at that.

    You just know what you find on the internet and text is the right way to tell things, you can read back, stand still at moment and skip the bullshit. I don’t know if thats about control, i think its just about getting what you want. Imagine comparing or combining information from several videos, you’ll have to write it down.

    Video’s are not practical unless there is really something to show (some things a better shown then said).

    At least I never watch TV for the last 5 years (except sometimes at friends). I remember always feeling cheated after watching TV, just like eating a meal at mac donalds. It was not nice, costs time/money and didn’t bring you any forward/give satisfaction.

    I like movies once in a while (preferably cinema) and I do regurlarly watch tv series/animations from around the world. But those dont have commercials and you know what to expect.

    I just remember watching a video on google video for over half an hour which was nice. It was a presentation by Matthew Garret about something with laptop power management. Maybe it was because it was interesting and i laughed my ass off at the same time. That was a rare exception to things mentioned earlier.

    Maybe we do not have enough TV-genes. But to answer your question: its not you, its the content.

  6. I agree with your reasoning, and that’s why I also prefer to read (don’t read nearly as much as you do, though). The one exception for me is Sarah Vowell. Her writing is far more entertaining when she reads it than when I read it.

  7. dave

    As a fast reader I too am bored by most audio and video content on the web that is trying to deliver words (obviously demonstrations, music etc. are a different story). I find much the same applies to lectures or talks in the real world.

    What would increase my chances of listening to such things (other than a transcription or even an outline list of topic headers) is controls built into the browser that let me watch/listen at 2 to 4 times the speed but with the audio adjusted so the pitch doesn’t rise and sound like the chipmunks.

    I believe this is built into iPods for audiobooks, and you can just about make it work with Quicktime. I’m unaware of any audio or video tools on Linux that work like that though.

  8. Erigami Scholey-Fuller

    I couldn’t agree more. I skim blogs during compile/load/test-passes at work.

    I find audio and video too distracting so I never get around to hitting the ‘casts.

  9. Jason Dragon

    I totally agree. I really don’t like the audio or video blogs, they simply are way to slow. They also make it hard to multi task. I like to have many things open and when you have one of these you really can’t work as much. I also like to scan text very fast, I can skip to the good parts instantly.

    One of my favorite bloggers just converted to all video, and there is no text below it. To make it even worse he added a 30 second intro with loud music that is at the start of every blog. I basically have stopped looking at his new entries.

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