Just a few years back no one expected that podcasts, basically a radio on demand, will become so popular. With constantly narrowing attention span, demand for more visual stimulation (figuratively speaking – colors screaming into our faces) and continuously decreasing amount of spare time – podcast seemed like a lost cause. And yet here they stand, with 2 out of 3 people in the US listening to online audio during the month (according to The Infinite Dial 2020 research; considers people aged 12+.)
Podcasts play an important role in my life since quite a long time. Thanks to podcast I had a unique chance to digest many subjects that otherwise would have only a tiny chance to break to my attention.
I’ve recently had an argument, with a close friend of mine, about the consumption of intellectual content. His take was that podcasts are an irrelevant form, very difficult to scrutinize, where receiver can be easily tricked and can uncritically digest information that are either untrue or incomplete. Additionally, he found the content difficult to focus on, thus making the enterprise even less effective in conveying whatever the substance. We’ve had some back and forth, but I believe my arguments for podcasts stand firmly.
I released that just like with a lot of things I’m now serious about – my adventure with podcasts started in a mildly serious manner. I came across The Ricky Gervais Podcast. Gervais a British comedian with a world-wide recognition. He even hosted The Golden Globes a couple of times. His early work as a radio hosts bore fruits in the form of some first downloadable audio materials – the very first podcasts per se. These were just funny discussions, though wit of Gervais made them extremely stimulating. But I was amazed how easily, during a daily commute, I can digest some extensive content. Only later came other podcasts, with more serious content.
There are many reasons why podcasts can be beneficial:
- There are multiple routines that require just a fraction of your attention span. Think of commuting, walking, biking, cleaning the dishes and many others.
- While you can’t read a book while performing the above activities – your audio bandwidth remains mostly unused.
- Introducing a podcast (or audiobook, for that matter) – allows you to digest intellectual content on top what you’re doing anyway.
- The supply of podcasts now is so enormous – that it’s almost certain you’ll find one that addresses directly your kind of intellectual itching.
- Podcasts are most often free of charge (most often rely on voluntary donations.) So talk about free lunch!
- Listening to a podcast in a foreign language will help you to become much more fluent in it.
- Conversations in podcasts tend to generally last much longer than the ones on TV. It will help you to get to know better people you’re fascinated with (business people, scientists, artists, etc.)
There’s also the aspect related to using a sense of hearing for inducing experiences in other senses – and how it helps to develop your cognitive abilities. I recall the time when I was just a couple of years old – when my parents played me kid’s fables on vinyl. It was quite popular in the 80’s and sadly was later replaced by overly supplied cartoons. I recall each and single fairy tale like if I had watched a movie. These are vivid places, clear characters, people with faces and emotion written on them, landscapes and sceneries. I’m sure it helped me to develop the imagination. You shouldn’t underestimate the power of pure audio in the era of interactive audio-video.
Currently there are at least 10 podcasts I follow daily. Among the most important ones I must mention: The Making Sense Podcast (by Sam Harris) and The Portal (by Eric Weinstein). There are a couple of others, each very valuable, which I highly recommend. A broader list is available here.
Are you a podcast fan? Share in the comments which podcasts do you consider valuable!