Sunday, July 17, 2005

Podcasts

I have been reading up on discussions about podcasting: opinions range from 'it's the next big revolution' to 'this is just fluff, and a lot of hype by some'. As with most such issues, it's best to see for yourself. And I accidentally hit upon BBC's podcast for their 'Go Digital' section. Here's what I experienced:

First, it was a pleasure that the download was so quick. I tried this on a dial-up (as a designer I am intensely interested in how accessible a technology really is to people world-wide, not just the ones with broad-band & cable connections; that's a great reason for using PCs too in one's toolbox). So this one started streaming in a few seconds, no stuttering, no pauses that one typically gets with audio & video downloads as the slow connection gasps to keep pace with the material coming in). Great experience there.

As I listen to the interviews & discussions, I started getting really excited about it. I could move about in the house, carry on my other activities, & yet continue to listen to news I wanted to stay abreast of. Now what routinely happens with me is that everyday I plan to get into my favorite news sites (BBC is one) to quickly scan through important happenings. It never works, really. I put these news sites into a favorites folder, but that was it. There were always other things to take care of, so ............ Next I added all of these to my news aggregator, hoping that would solve the problem. But again no, there are times that I do not open my RSS reader for days on end!

I now realise part of the problem may have to do with the nature/constraints of the above experiences: I have to be at my computer for one; and more importantly, a good deal of focus & eye-power ( for want of a better term) is required to carry out these activities. Reading off computer screens is enormously straining on the eyes, thus inducing one to scan text rather than to actually read.

Podcasting solves that problem beautifully: download the file to your computer or mp3 player, listen to it at leisure. No eye-strain, plus one now has mobility, and there are other bonuses too!! Listening to the BBC podcast brought home to me the wealth of communication in the human voice. The intonations, the laughter, the warmth, the horror: all so effectively conveyed through this channel. And the best bonus for me was I didn't have to look at grisly pictures even when the topic might steer to Iraq or the London bombings. This enables one to focus on other bits of the story, rather than the overbearing pictures!!

2 Comments:

Anonymous damian knoop said...

Anjali - first off, congratulations on being granted a fellowship to the WE MEDIA event...it looks like it will be a very enlightening time and I am jealous. That would explain how I ended up on your page. I guess in that same breadth, I should congratulate you on your two NYU classes! Who knows, someday I may be in one of your classes if you stay at NYU - I am considering their MBA program.

Next, in regards to this post..I am with you, I am an internet/web veteran from the MOSAIC days of over a decade ago, which would make you think I would have the patience to hit my favorite news sites OR load up the rss feedreader for my knowledge craving but I do not. Having seen so much change in the online world, I am not certain if even this is the ideal mechanism of information download. I might even be too impatient to have to listen to the stories of lesser personal value to get to the ones which interest me most.

However, I do have my theories of where we are going and WHO DOESN'T LOVE PROPHESISING ABOUT THE FUTURE? I think in our lifetimes we will see the synapse hook-up, the Matrix plugin, where information finally can come in and out without the use of eyes, ears, mouth, or fingers. Hey, you'd be amazed as to how far we already are. All we need are a couple visionaries to take the technology out there and combine it in just the right way.

My job actually entails automating / optimizing processes for a certain telecom firm I work for..I see this as being the final automation. Who needs a web stream of either text, video, or sound? Plug-in and poof, you got the stories all right there to 'absorb' and process in much less time than it would take to hit the fast-forward on the winamp or ipod nano....

I guess until then a great interim solution could involve an aggregator such as news.google.com but with podcasts...maybe just being able to check-box/queue up the EXACT news stories you want to hear and then clicking produce playlist and poof, out comes the mp3 stream.

hmmmm thats actually not that bad, anyone done that yet?....let this be my official record for the upcoming patent acquisition.

Have a good one.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous damian knoop said...

even better....let it be self-learning! Let it recommend news articles or create your playlist after it gets to know your listening habits a little....like the Amazon recommendation system for news....

Seriously, if you get rich off this, I want a handsome cut.

Cheers.

6:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home