Intro to the World of Podcasting

In this first article, I thought I'd explain how my interest in podcasting developed. I first started listening to podcasts in January of 2006. As it was the beginning of a new year, I had new resolutions, one of which was to exercise more. I hate running, but I thought if I had something engaging to listen to, I could separate my mind from the pain and boredom of running.

I loaded up some podcasts onto my new iRiver MP3 player, strapped it on my arm, and started running on the treadmill. I soon discovered podcasts to be an intimate audio experience. Unlike any other medium, podcasts can lead you to a state of audio entrancement. You have fewer distractions -- no ads, no commercials, no interruptions. Your mind is usually split in focus -- one part of you focusing on the treadmill, making sure you don't fall off, mildly aware of people around you. The other is listening intently to the voice in your head.

You still get tired of running, even with podcasts. But an entertaining podcast can take your mind off of the boredom of the task at hand. Once I nearly fell off the treadmill because the podcast I was listening to (Diggnation) was so funny.

I soon began listening to podcasts while commuting in the car, and then while doing other tasks, such as waiting in airports, or while painting. I even tried to listen while mowing the lawn, but the mower was too loud.

Some people I meet tell me they don't have time for podcasts. I wonder if they're trying to listen too directly, without multitasking. If you play the audio while sitting patiently at your computer, devoting your full attention, then yes, you'll be bored out of your mind. We can hardly remain on the same web page for more than 2 minutes, much less sit through a 45 minute podcast that doesn't even have video. Ninety percent of the podcasts I listen to are either while I'm exercising or driving my car.

In this column, I'll recommend some tips on how to listen to podcasts. I'll also recommend good podcast episodes, provide information on recording presentations, and relay other podcasting related news and events.

Also, if you haven't already signed up to receive email updates for Tech Writer Voices podcasts, be sure to do so by visiting the site and signing up. I also have a special recommended podcasts feed that recommends specific episodes of podcasts I've enjoyed.

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