Thursday, February 26, 2015

3652: Technology and Podcast Listening

Over the course of the year I plan to post occassional observations and reflections upon how Skepticism (what I enjoy referring to as skepdom) has changed and shifted over the last decade.  2005 was the year I became aware of Skepdom and started to think of myself as a Skeptic. 

As the internet has matured, the changes with the technology have altered how I consume my skeptical content.  One of the interesting things I have noticed is that as time has gone on, I tend to listen to less skeptical podcasts, and read more material.  Part of the reason I think has to do with the ease of learning of and about new items of interest. 

As it has become easier to locate and learn of skeptical material and news being generated on an hourly basis, the less reliant and frankly less engaging has become a number of podcasts I used to consistently listen.  A decade ago, podcasts (and in 2005 this meant Point of Inquiry and Skepticality) were my conduits to all information of skeptical interest.  Later on in 2006, the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe Forums and the Skeptigator (a skeptical information news aggregator) were the pipeline to further information supplemented by Google Reader.  Eventually, Twitter and Facebook made all of them more or less redundant.  

iPod: early modern period. 
I noticed a couple years ago all too often while listening to the Rogues on the SGU discuss a topic, I had already read about it from various sources--often from an author with a greater depth and understanding of the topic.  I do not wish to pick on the SGU as the same thing occurred to a lesser degree with the Skeptic Zone, the Irreverent Skeptics, Skeptically Challenged, Skeptics with a K, and Skepticule, etc.  This is not to say I have stopped listening to them all, but I am more picky on when I listen.  Now, I tend to look at the show notes first and then decide if there is anything new or worth skipping ahead to hear.   My habit is to spend some quality time each morning on my iPad flipping through my Twitter feed and looking at Doubtful News 'Remains of the Day.'  Something I first learned of on say Tuesday, by the time various podcasts are released over the weekend and discuss this same item, it is stale.   

 If a topic of the day has some medical component, it is hard to beat Dr. Novella on the SGU; here, expertise triumphs.  Often I find myself being drawn to shows for the personalities involved which is subjective.  Skeptics with a K, Strange Frequencies Radio, and Virtual Skeptics -- I just enjoy the banter.  Others may find a particular panel less appealing, but luckily there is a plethora of shows to pick one’s own tastes.  There are some topic-specific podcasts such as Exposing PseudoAstronomy, which is mostly immune from being untimely, or general knowledge type content, such as Skeptoid.  

As technology has made it easier to obtain information as long as I have my smartphone on me, it has perversely caused me to read more now, and listen to less later.  I would not have predicted this ten years ago when obtaining more skeptical goodness required me to download a show to iTunes and then sync it to my iPod.  

Don't get me wrong.  I still enjoy listening to podcasts.  I still listen to them nearly everyday.  I just rely on them far less than I did five years ago or more.  


  1. That is one thing I like about my podcast (and it's illegitimate parents -- AstronomyCast and Skeptoid): Most topics aren't time-dependent. There certainly have been a few exceptions, like the 2012 stuff or Elenin, but even then, most of that material is still valid and will come up next time there's a Woomsday event. And with Elenin, because it was so timely, UniverseToday posted it, and my listenership went from about 100 on the previous episode to over 5000, since Elenin was only my 4th episode.

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