“Binge Listening,” by Rebecca Mead. The New Yorker, 11/19/2018.
Okay, so I write this blog, but that just shows how far behind the times I am. If I was more up-to-date, I would record and post a podcast that everyone could listen to on their cell phones. With no spelling and grammar problems, it would easier for all of us. Or, I could do both.
But that’s not my intent and is never going to happen. I am visually oriented and much prefer reading something than listening to it. I can glance forward to see what’s coming, and if I miss a word, I can quickly glance back and review that word I missed. Audio is a serial medium that quickly passes us by only once and is gone. We have to catch everything the first time. Miss something, and it takes special knowledge and technology to go back. I guess I am old-school. I don’t even have a cell phone.
Podcasts are on-demand audio that can be downloaded and played later on a smart phone or tablet while exercising or commuting. Many are in serial form. The Internet has about half a million free podcasts on every possible topic. Initially, they were posted by geeks for geeks. Their real jump in popularity came in 2014 when Apple added a podcast app to their iPhone that simplified the entire process. This was quickly followed by the release of a popular podcast, Serial, an investigation of the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a Maryland high-school student, that reached a million listeners within a month. Today, there are also many free apps on the Play Store for Android systems. My own impression is that many young people so absorbed in their phones are actually listening to a podcast.
The podcasts are usually free but contain ads to pay the freight. Serial was produced by Public Radio who still produces many of the best podcasts. The popularity of Serial resulted in a flood of inferior imitations.
The New Yorker website often posts individual podcasts of authors reading or commenting on their articles, particularly fiction pieces. You can listen immediately, or download the podcast and listen later.
You should try a podcast. The experience is very much like the old-time radio programs we knew, except you can listen anytime.