I get asked a lot about how I stay caught up with what’s going on with the world. It takes a lot of time, maybe three hours a day, 90% of which is on my own time. I have a six-pronged approach:
- 200 Twitter feeds (increasing)
- 60 blog & other RSS feeds (cut down from 400+)
- 20 email newsletters and listservs (ever-decreasing)
- 10 “old school” periodicals online (also down)
- 10 open access journals (increasing slowly)
- and 31 podcasts (increasing quickly)
Yes, I am insane. And no, I do not suggest this many different sources for normal people wanting to stay current on technology and library stuff. Kate Sheehan wrote a really good post today on the ALA TechSource blog, about the high stress of staying current: “Keeping Up with Keeping Up.”
About those podcasts… About two years ago I got my job at San Jose Public Library, adding a 90-120 minute commute in each direction. As such, I started looking for good ways to use that commute time. I started listening to some fun podcasts (NPR shows & whatnot) at home on my computer. Then I got an Android HTC Eris smartphone, which has Google Listen on it–which automatically downloads all of the new podcasts for my subscriptions right onto my phone, which I plug into my Prius via the MP3 port, and listen away as I drive! It’s the best. Not only because it’s super-easy & requires no intermediary step, but because I learn a lot this way. It’s a better use of my time than listening to NPR news and radio station music that I am only vaguely interested in.
Below is my list of audio podcast subscriptions. Some of these come in video variations, and there are other video-only “podcasts” that I still subscribe to in Google Reader (like This Week in Libraries). But podcasts are now my #2 method of keeping up, right after Twitter.
Any podcast with a * after it is from the TWIT network (a 24/7 all-online television and radio network with a ton of other shows that is run out of Petaluma, CA by the always-awesome Leo Laporte–Leo, hire me!), and any podcast with a # after it is from the This Week In network, a TWIT clone of good quality.
- FORA.tv Technology Today
- MacBreak Weekly *
- NPR: Technology Podcast
- Net@Night *
- The Tech Guy *
- Tech News Today *
- This Week in Cloud Computing #
- This Week in Google *
- This Week in Mobile #
- This Week in Social Media #
- This Week in Tech *
- Windows Weekly *
- Wired’s Gadget Lab
Web Design and Usability Podcasts
- Idyllic Music Podcast
- Magnatune Electronica
- Magnatune Hard Electronica
- Magnatune Space Music
- NPR: All Songs Considered
Other Random “Sarah Interests” Podcasts She Listens to When She’s Tired of Learning in the Car
So why these podcasts and not others? They have the three winning factors:
- Good, quality content of interest to me
- Quality audio content
- Good production quality (show-pacing, musical interludes, regular show segments, interesting guests, etc.)
I’ve probably tried out two dozen other podcasts, and unsubscribed because they ended (Boagworld, AdaptivePath), the content was uninteresting, the audio quality was so bad and uneven that my head hurt from listening, or the show production quality was laughable. There was a show that overall had good content called AndroidGuys, but the show had seriously uneven volume levels and sometimes wasted 15 minutes at the start of the show with stupid unrelated topics, har-har-har riffing, and general idiocy. After blasting my eardrums out three times in a row for hour long shows with 15 minutes of hidden awesome content, I just gave up. I was sad too–they have a good blog. Another show, The Hopkinson Report (from Wired‘s marketing guy), has good content but he speaks sooooo fast that I cannot both absorb what he is saying and concentrate on the semis cutting me off in 800-N rush hour traffic.
So let that be a lesson to future podcasters: you need good audio and content both! It’s not all about a cute name, or getting first-time subscribers. You have to keep them too.
If you have podcasts you like on any library/tech/web/education-related topic others might be interested, list them in the comments! We’d love to see what you like, too! Maybe I’ll find another half dozen to add to my ever-growing list!