I subscribe to about 30 podcasts and used to use Apple’s music player to listen to them on my iPad or iPod Touch. Podcasts have made a big difference to my audio consumption. I listen to less broadcast radio but more audio programmes. For one thing, I do not miss episodes of my favourite programmes. Also I can consume audio when and where I want. Usually that is out walking or on public transport.
And yet, it could be better. Podcasts give me audio on demand but I want to be more demanding. I want to be able to miss out the bits of programmes that don’t interest me, or go on for too long. I want to skip over advertisements or tedious copyright announcements. The consumption model is serial and I want random access. I also want to go directly to the bits that interest me.
One possibility is the enhanced podcast. These are podcasts which have been split into chapters like the Naked Scientist one below. The user just clicks on the chapters that they want to hear. Unfortunately, not many podcasts come in enhanced form. The BBC produces dozens of podcasts but I have only found one in enhanced format. That is the Best of Chris Moyles enhanced. I don’t know why the BBC does not produce more. Perhaps it is a matter of cost, or maybe they cannot be bothered.
Not every podcast needs to have chapters. Each episode of the BBC’s superb In Our Time covers one subject and chapters would be pointless. The BBC’s Material World covers three or four subjects and needs chapters.
Incidentally, it would be interesting to know how many people download a podcast like In Our Time compared to the number that are estimated to listen to it via a radio or via the BBC iPlayer.
Podcast pleasure can also be improved by using a better player. In a later post I compare Downcast and iCatcher.