Podcasts are a great way to entertain and educate yourself when you’re using your eyes and hands for something else and you need to keep your mind occupied. I listen to about six hours of podcasts a week, while walking or doing chores around the house or driving.
Podcasts are audio recordings, usually spoken-word, that you download from the Internet and listen to, usually on your iPod or smartphone. Once you subscribe to a podcast, new episodes are downloaded automatically, like a TV program on your TiVo or other DVR. You usually use iTunes for the subscription, although there are other programs that do the job, such as Podcaster for the iPhone, which is what I use (my Podcaster review).
My brother Ken asked me how to find and subscribe to podcasts. To find them, just browse in iTunes. Go to the iTunes store, look for the Podcast link on the top of the page, and then browse around. Click the “subscribe” button if you see one you like.
There are other ways of finding and subscribing to podcasts (I do it differently), but that’s the simplest way.
Or you could just listen to the same podcasts as I do:
Norman Centuries: A Norman History Podcast. Web. iTunes. Historian Lars Brownworth describes the Norman conquests in medieval Europe. This podcast only updates a few times a year. Brownworth also narrated the 12 Byzantine Rulers Web iTunes podcast, which described the history of the Byzantine Empire and is still available in iTunes and on the Web.
Tank Riot. Web. iTunes. Three extremely smart guys in Madison, Wisconsin, spend three weeks intensely studying some subject of news, recent history, or pop culture, and then they sit around and drink and talk about what they learned.
This Week in Google. Web. iTunes. The week’s Google, Facebook, and cloud computing news, hosted by Leo Laporte, with Gina Trapani, and Jeff Jarvis. I’ve been a guest twice. Love listening, and love being a guest.
Back to Work. Web. iTunes. Co-host Merlin Mann founded the 43folders blog seven years ago, and has spent most of the last seven years writing, thinking, and studying how creative people can get more done — artists, writers, programmers, engineers, accountants, anybody whose job is primarily sitting around and thinking, or who wants one of those jobs. He’s also a public speaker, Web designer, and Mac enthusiast. He and co-host Dan Benjamin, who runs an entire podcast network, talk about productivity, communication, work, their lives, Buddhism, communication, self-sabotage, working in restaurants, Mac productivity apps, toilet humor, 80s and early 90s rock, and more. Back to Work is both fun and inspirational.
The Straight Dope The audio version of the question-and-answer newspaper column, covering history, science, old wives’ tales, urban legends, inventions, and more. Tagline: “Fighting ignorance since 1973 (it’s taking longer than we thought).” By Cecil Adams, “world’s smartest human.”
That is a hell of a lot of podcasts, isn’t it? It’s not as much as it appears because some of them, like the memory palace and Norman Centuries are short and update quite infrequently and I skip over Fresh Air podcasts that look uninteresting to me. Still, I currently have a two-week backlog of podcasts. But that’s the beauty of podcasts; they’re there when you want them. I listen to the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and This Week In Google podcasts on the day they publish, because they’re timely, and also Mac Power Users, just because. For the rest, I get to them when I have time. One day I’ll have a lot of time to kill — a long drive, for example — and I’ll get all caught up.
What podcasts do you listen to? Do you watch any video podcasts? Which ones?