In a previous post, I began unpacking how I know about cool tech stuff these days. There are a lot of great sites on the Web, and figuring where to start is the problem. Although I had been using the Internet for some time, relying on the Web for tech information really began with Podcasts. I first learned about the format in early 2005. It was an intriguing idea; an audio file that automatically downloaded to my desktop whenever a new episode became available, and could be easily moved to my newly purchased, 2nd generation iPod. I had a long commute each day, and the idea of having something besides the radio for entertainment was very appealing. There wasn’t much to choose from yet, but I began having fun with Adam Curry (of MTV fame) and his show, The Daily Sourcecode.
Shortly after, I became aware of This Week in Tech, first published in April of 2005. and hosted by Leo Laport. Besides Leo, the show featured many of the original Screen Savers, a show first aired on Paul Allen’s now defunct Tech TV. Over the succeeding months, it became clear that besides the informal and entertaining radio show format, there was much very useful tech information for the Internet and startup age. I was hooked and began listening every week.
MacBreak Weekly appeared next in August of 2006, and featured Mac-centric discussions of gear and all things Apple. It was a good fit for my interests since I managed a large fleet of Macintosh computers for the College of Fine Arts, and it quickly became a favorite. I was now spending four hours a week with audio-based technical content. It was a great use of otherwise wasted time, and to my surprise yielded links to other useful content in the Tech and startup worlds as well as tips and reviews of Mac (and later iOS) applications. I was efficiently gaining much-needed insights into the technology landscape.
Photography was next in January of 2008 with This Week in Photography. Although not closely related to my professional work, it provided great information for one of my hobbies, and further fueled my enthusiasm for the podcast medium.
Today, there are literally thousands of podcasts, and the TWIT network has grown to over 50 shows. Podcasts, or Netcasts as some prefer, come in all information and entertainment categories and even include offerings from many major universities. Chances are, audio and video recorded material can be found in the iTunes Store for almost any interest. So — if you have time to kill during a commute or while engaged in activities that leave the mind free, they can be an efficient way to find out about almost anything.