I’ve long been a huge fan of listening to podcasts but can they really change your life? Err…maybe not, but I am convinced that they can be hugely beneficial to people generally and especially those interested in software development/technical issues.
- Easy. Listening to a podcast takes so little effort – grab your MP3 player and off you go. This contrasts with carrying a heavy book or even worrying about where your Kindle is.
- Learning Style. They hit your brain squarely with one of the VAK (Visual – Auditory – Kinesthetic) learning styles. That might not be everyone’s favoured approach, but it’s often a common element in all learning.
- Unobtrusive. I sometimes want to read or learn about things early in the morning but, unless you live alone, that isn’t a wise choice if you remain in bed. However, when listening to podcasts, no-one need be disturbed other than you. There are many other situations in which listening to a podcast on headphones can be done without interfering with others.
- Two for the Price of One. I didn’t know quite how to label this, but I am always looking for ways to accomplish more than one thing for a singular cost. So, for example, when I make the sandwiches for the kids, clean up, go for walks, or do any of the other many things that would prevent me from reading or watching content, I am benefiting hugely (for a small incremental cost) by also listening to podcasts. The best part is that it usually doesn’t prevent me doing the original task, anyway.
- Wide-ranging Topics. I am forever amazed at the huge breadth of what you can learn about from podcasts with people that are experts in their fields. As an example, this week I was listening to Yukihiro Matsumoto – the creator of Ruby – talk about how he designed his language. I learnt from Jon McCoy that it’s possible to inject code and interfere with the running of IL code in .NET, easily. I also found out that WPF is alive and well from Phil Japikse! You really can learn about a huge variety of things.
- Quantity. My iPod Shuffle is 2GB in size. Given a podcast can range from about 30Mb to 60Mb (depending on length), mine can easily hold at least 30 episodes. That’s 30 hours of neuron firing knowledge! Your mileage will vary depending on what you have, but either way, you can store an awful lot. From an alternative angle, there are gazillions of podcasts (e.g. .NET Rocks just hit 1100!) which are available. Win-win.
- Convenience. Things happen around us all the time and I often find I need to stop and start my listening. Naturally, that is so easy with an MP3 player and you can go right back to listening again as soon as it is convenient.
- Keep Learning. Much like Andy Lester said in a podcast, you need to keep learning. Tech moves too quickly and standing still may very well cause you to stagnate.
- Free. Still not convinced? It’s often FREE!
To summarise, I hope that the above has at least given you pause for thought and means that if you haven’t, you at least try out some podcasts. I’ll have more to say about some of the stations/series that I listen to, soon.
Farewell, then. I’m off for a healthy, productive shuffle with my iPod shuffle!
Written by Stephen Moon
email: stephen at logicalmoon.com