General Thoughts on Podcasting
When given a choice between listening to a podcast and reading a book, blog, or tutorial, podcasts would always be my last choice. Talking is not a very high bandwidth form of communication in general when compared to reading and its overall value decreases even more when it is purely passive endeavor without any way of interjecting questions. I am also a very visual and tactile learner, so I always do better when I can look at code and experiment with it than I do when I am just listening to someone talk about it.
Despite these downsides, I am a still huge fan of podcasts because they help make otherwise tedious tasks that I am not rich enough or smart enough to outsource yet more palatable. I will often wear my mp3 player while commuting, mowing, shoveling, vacuuming, raking and running.
Since my commuting time has been drastically cut in the last year, I don’t listen to nearly as many podcasts as I used to and consequently tend to be more selective when looking for good content. In fact, lately I’ve been getting into the habit of hosting my own personal gong show and simply stopping and deleting shows that don’t catch my interest or aren’t very good.
Here are my current thoughts and\or recommendations:
Long Time Favorite: Hanselminutes
If I’m even remotely interested in the topic, I usually opt for a Hanselminute podcast first and almost always make it through the whole show. I really appreciate the Scott’s brisk pace and the fact that he is pretty disciplined about sticking to the 30 minute format. When the show first started, I remember him repeating the mantra ‘the podcast that doesn’t waste your time’ and so far he’s done a pretty good job of staying true to his original aim. He also does an excellent job at asking questions that are not only technically insightful, but also relevant to what the interviewee just talked about. This makes it feel much more like a natural conversation and not just a random Q & A type interview. If anything, his show has gotten even better since he joined Microsoft and gained access to even more interesting people to talk to and projects to talk about.
Up and Coming: Herding Code
This is a relatively new show (only on episode 22) that I just recently started listening to, but it already shows great promise. I like the fact that there are four hosts: K. Scott Allen (OdeToCode), Kevin Dente, Scott Koon (Lazycoder), and Jon Galloway, because I think it helps raise the overall quality and relevancy of the questions being asked (4 brains are better than one). They’ve also done some episodes where they just chat about a particular topic rather than interviewing someone. This turned out really well some episodes, like the Browser Roundup, but not quite as well for others (I didn’t make it all the way through Real World Development). I look forward to future episodes from these guys and plan to go back to catch up on some of the first ones that I missed.
Barely holding On: DotNetRocks
This pains me to say because I have literally listened to hundreds of these episodes over the last few years, but my interest in dotnetrocks is rapidly waning. I’ve noticed myself fast forwarding and stopping halfway through quite a few shows lately. Perhaps they have just over-extended themselves when they moved to 2 shows a week or maybe they’ve just run out of steam after producing almost 400 hour plus long episodes. More than likely it is just my short attention span for show formats kicking in (I rarely can stick with a sitcom for more than a few seasons). Nevertheless, they definitely deserve praise for being the only game in town for so long and I would still recommend certain shows to people. Recently I really enjoyed listening to Ted Neward and Amanda Laucher on F#, Udi Dahan Scales Web Applications!, and Jeffrey Richter on the Windows Memory Model.
I used to listen to occasional episodes of Polymorphic Podcast and RunAsRadio, but they seemed to have fallen off my radar these days due to time constraints. I also experimented with ARCast a long time ago because architecture seemed like a perfect focus for a podcast since it is so conceptual in nature, but I never quite warmed up to Ron Jacobs so this quickly dropped from my list as well.
I have a few of the Alt.NET Podcast episodes queued up on my mp3 player because the topics sounded interesting, but haven’t listened to any of them yet
Are there any other high quality gems in the podcasting world that I am missing?