Saturday, March 29, 2014

SKEPTUNES: A NEW SKEPTIC RESOURCE WEBSITE.


Originally posted September 13, 2013

A newly arrived website called Skeptunes has arrived on the skeptical media scene.  The name might imply that it is a repository of skeptically themed music.  However, this is incorrect.  Instead, Skeptunes is a searchable repository of skeptical podcasts.  For a lover of podcasts like me this is brilliant notion.  
The site is run by Shane Brady of the spb blog.  I have recently come to enjoy following Brady’s blog.  He covers topics of Libertarianism, Vegan issues, Atheism, and Skepticism.  If you read Brady’s blog for any amount of time one quickly learns the guy LOVES his animal companions.  I love my three critters, so that's all good too.  I find Brady rather insightful on his skeptic focused posts, and a good read on his other topics of interest as well.  
His latest creation, Skeptunes', design aesthetic is the tastefully spare style that has become popular with web and app design over the past year or so.  (My blog's overhaul followed this trend.)  The home page is dominated by a search bar, and below the search bar are four buttons: What is this?Podcast guide, Something missing?, and Get in Touch.  The buttons are large and decorated to look like Zener cards which is a nice design touch.  
The podcast guide button links to a page that has featured podcasts.  I am not sure how the featured podcasts are determined.  You can do a search by alphabetical listing on this page of all the podcasts within the data base.  I did some searching, and did not notice any obvious omissions.  I also did a search for a couple decidedly atheist podcasts that are popular within skeptic circles of Reasonable Doubts and Irreligiosophyand neither was listed.  I am not sure if this was an omission or if Brady like myself desires to keep his atheist and skeptical media separate.  
The other way to search for podcasts is using the search bar, which is handy.  It works.  Type in the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, and the SGU pops up.  The search bar is quite useful searching for a topic covered in a podcast using keywords.  I did a small test typing in ‘invincible’ and low an behold two podcasts I appeared on Karl Mamer’sConspiracy Skeptic podcast popped up.  The one is the episode when we discussed the alleged sinking of the HMS Invincible during the Falkland War.   I search ‘Kennedy assassination’ and a long list of podcasts appeared including my discussion of this topic with Karl.  If my stuff shows up its gotta be good.  
When one clicks on a podcasts icon there is link to the podcast’s website and a link for the RSS feed.  Which for some is useful, but for the lazy like myself having the RSS link is very 2007.  This leads into my only issue with the site, which is not what it is but what it is not.  I admit upfront this criticism is a bit unfair.  
I listen to the vast majority of podcasts on my iPhone.  Either with ear buds walking the dog and doing whatnot around the house or in the car.  While Skeptunes is a nice website (it scales nicely on a mobile browser), and it works as advertised I wish there was mobile app available on iOS, Android, and heck even give some love to those Saab minded independent spirited folks who use Windows mobile.*  It would be smashing if one could either download and store the episode on the app, or perhaps somehow hit a button to send the podcast or individual episode to iTunes, Downcast, or your podcatcher of choice for download.    
In all fairness this is a search tool and not a podcatcher.  It’s similar asking why a motorcycle isn’t a pickup truck.  It would just be so damn useful.  I know that is far, far easier said than done.  However, for what Skeptunes was designed to do which is allow for focused and friction free searching for content within skeptical podcasts it  does really rather well.
Next time your podcast queue is empty and you want to listen to something new give a scroll through the podcast list on Skeptunes, or if you are in the mood for crop circle discussions give the search bar a whirl.  You will be pleasantly satisfied at how easy it is to find what you are searching to hear.  
*This isn't a knock against Saabs or Windows.   

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