the photography, music and ramblings of Matt Lipstein

Podcasts: Why do they suck?

When you're a techie in a visible role (read: a guy like me doing technology for a school), people expect you to be into all of the up and coming technologies and trends. From knowing the pros and cons of Windows Vista, to being on top of every high-tech companies stock price, people assume you're the go-to guy. "Hey - you like technology! What's Second Life all about?"

Which brings me to Podcasts. We all know what they are by now, but does anybody really listen to these things? Is it just me or do they all suck? First off - there are so many of them, and most are done very poorly. The hosts rarely know what they are talking about, and they seem to love the sound of their own voices (an affliction that I can *ahem* identify with).

I've tried to ask people I trust for recommendations, but even these "cream-o'-the-crop" shows are not that engaging. The sound is always tinny, and the volume is all over the place. The whole thing just seems like a medium that will seem laughable in about two years.

All geek stereotypes aside, I did think I was going to enjoy listening to podcasts. I mean hey - I went to school for radio broadcasting, and even aspired to get into talk-radio at a certain point. But no. This podcast thing is just not taking.

I'm listening to one now. My hopes were high. The host is Mark Frauenfelder the creator of one of my favorite blogs, Boing Boing. It's called "Get Illuminated" - an obvious nod to Robert Anton Wilson*, one of my most cherished authors of my mid-twenties. And the first episode was an interview with cultural critic and author Douglas Rushkoff. A veritable slam-dunk of a podcast!

But here I am - bored, not paying attention. Blah blah blah. Who has the attention for this? Do people just sit and stare at their computers while they listen? I know folks have these on their iPods and listen on the commute, but for some reason that doesn't appeal to me.

Tell me - what am I missing? Am I the only one who is missing the boat?

*Fair warning if you click this link: Robert Anton Wilson maintains one of the worst looking websites on the Internet.

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