Maybe I’m just old fashioned but I like plain old text for gathering most information. I’ve tried listening to podcasts and I just find the format irritating. I can read sooooo much faster than people can talk intelligibly that I find listening as a means to gather information maddeningly slow.
I’ve tried podcasts, really I have, not just for pure information but also for entertainment (basically, spoken fiction). If it last more than about 3-5 minutes I just can’t stand it. I just can’t sit still and do nothing but listen, then find myself getting distracted to the point I stop listening to the podcast, then suddenly realize I’ve lost track and have to skip back to where my attention wandered, listen another five minutes (maybe, if I last that long) then rinse and repeat.
I’ve tried doing something like knitting or crocheting while listening just to keep my hands occupied, but while it helps eventually I still seem to mentally wander off no matter how intriguing I find the subject. I can spend four hours reading about, say, pre-Cambrian life while barely moving, wholly entranced, but 15 minutes of podcast on the exact same subject leaves me climbing the walls from a mix of boredom and agitation.
Does anyone else have this “problem”?
I mean, it’s not really a problem in the sense of, say, being illiterate would be a problem, but I know there are some good podcasts out there on subjects I’m interested in, but frankly, with my subjective experience of listening to podcasts being somewhere between dripping-faucet-noise torture and fingernails-on-a-blackboard it’s not really a pleasant experience for me to listen to any of them.
I love the ones that I love. The rest I hate. There are three Cthulhu mythos podcasts that I listen to a couple of comics related ones. As well as science fiction books and Stephen King books that can be good.
I am a huge fan of Podcasting.
But, not that huge I only listen to:
Car Talk, prairie homecompanion, Diane Reams, NPR news.
I listen in carpool lane, while cooking, whenever the house is quite and it’s just me at home.
Most of the podcasts I listened to were music oriented,where the format works well. I’ve listened to a couple of books on CD in my car driving to and from work, and that worked well. Maybe listening to a podcast while driving would work for you.
I like them while I’m doing mindless tasks, where reading would be impossible. Cleaning the house, stacking firewood, walking, etc. Have you tried “This American Life?” That one and “Radio Lab” are my favs, really interesting stuff in both. I find it helpful to be wearing headphones while listening, less likely to miss something and get lost.
But, these really aren’t “Podcasts” - they are just recordings. A true podcast is designed from the outset to be distributed on the web as it’s only medium. I’ve listened to a few of those (technical ones, about embedded Linux), and found them marginally useful.
I think I know what you mean. Back when the Straight Dope column was available as a podcast, I tried listening to it once or twice, but it took way longer than it would have taken me to read the column, so I couldn’t stand to listen to it.
So, especially when it comes to gathering information, I would far rather read than listen—especially when the source of the information lends itself to skimming over some parts and focusing on others.
I admit, I will sometimes listen to podcasts at night when I’m falling asleep, and then the non-rivetingness is a feature, not a bug.
I am a fan of audiobooks and other audio formats, but I enjoy them so much more now that I have a way to listen to them at increased speed. Otherwise I would indeed get bored or mentally “wander off” while trying to listen.
Do you have a device or app or software that will enable you to increase the playback speed of audio files?
There’s no way I could just sit and listen to a podcast. But I do listen to them all the time while cooking and if I have to drive for longer than a few minutes (which is rare for me, working from home and living in a small town.)
They’re great for that; in fact, if I’m doing any amount of cooking at all, I pretty much always have one going. I wish I could bribe Ira Glass into doing a “This American Life” at least 3x/week.
Frankly, I more and more feel a need to focus on my driving and more and more often find myself entirely turning off the radio. This might be do in part to how many idiots are phoning/texting while driving.
The radio isn’t as bothersome because either it’s music where a tune is only about 3 minutes (hmm… wonder if that has anything to do with my podcast listening attention span, after years of “training” listening to music radio…?), or it’s news in soundbites (again, very short) or easy to tune out if I need to pay more attention to that idiot in the next lane.
That, and my commute time is only about 15 minutes each way.
But, really, back when I rode a train to work and it was safe to zone out during the commute I still had the exact same problem trying to listen to a podcast or “audio book” (another thing I can’t seem to tolerate).
Let me be clear that I absolutely support the rise of the audio book because other people so clearly enjoy them. I just find them, like I said, irritating. I don’t enjoy them myself.
Well, yes, I think you may have touched on the real issue here. I’ll listen to music for quite a stretch at a time, but the spoken word just doesn’t thrill me that much. Never much cared for radio dramas or audiobooks either, much the same reasons
I do find it interesting that when I mention this there is always someone like ZenBeam who tries to suggest ways I might learn to like them. That’s not really what I was doing here. As far as I’m concerned podcasts/audiobooks are like calamari: I’ve tried it enough different ways I’m pretty sure the problem isn’t the sauce and spices, it’s that I don’t particularly care to eat squid. As I mentioned, I’ve tried audio formats, and usually take a taste again every few years and discover that yep, I still don’t like them much.
What prompted this was that recently I mentioned a type of SF I like to a writer I know and he suggested a “short story” in the form of a podcast. Apparently the tale exists in no other format. It was very much exactly the sort of story in that genre I enjoy but, holy crap, it took me over an hour to slog through 39 minutes of podcast due to how much backtracking I wound up doing because I simply could not stay focused on the story. Eventually I just started taking a break every 5 minutes, which did take me out of the story but even so made for a more coherent story experience. I was entranced by the story but the format was a huge obstacle for me. (The author also thanked me for getting through the story and giving him feedback on it, knowing podcasting isn’t my thing). It’s a damn shame because there really are stories out there I’d enjoy immensely more if they were in text rather than audio.
I’d also like to get into the Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventures, but what’s the point? I’m no more likely to get into one of those than any other audio format story no matter how much I like Doctor Who.
Isn’t that a bit odd? I enjoy video just fine, but not audio alone.
Basically, I just was curious if I was a real oddball or if there’s a substantial minority of us non-podcaster people out there. I’m not really looking for a way to enjoy it more, as from my viewpoint that’s rather like discussing how to make chalk a tastier snack item. Maybe there actually is a way to do that, but pursuing it isn’t really high on my current to-do list.
I love them. I listen to old radio plays (“Brought to you by Roma Wines - made in the United States and exported all over the world!”), Pseudopod’s short horror fiction, Librivox recordings of old weird fiction, and chat shows about my favorite media (General sci fi and horror, Lovecraft, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and so on). A lot of my life right now is mindless housekeeping, and they are the perfect distraction. However, if you can’t focus on them, I don’t see any reason to feel bad about it. I’m largely a visual learner, and if I needed to actually absorb something, or for certain types of content, I feel like I want to see it.
Meanwhile, I completely sympathize with the impatience, because that’s how I feel about online videos. I hate it when someone links to an interesting news story or whatnot and I discover it’s a video, with no text summary. I need to be able to skim, people! I don’t want to sit through a 3 minute video when I could get the info I want in 30 seconds.
Given the choice I always prefer reading a news article or other web information. Podcasts & Videos are usually a nuisance.
There are times a video is helpful. Like a natural disaster or act of terror. Words just couldn’t convey what had happened. Videos then are great. But I don’t need someone reading something for me. I read just fine and much quicker than they can speak. Thank you.