Before getting into a few, relatively web design-centric favorites, let’s compare podcasts to the written word.
The Written Word is Problematic
By “written word” I mean articles, blogs, and the like. What you sift through on Feedly or links found on Twitter, anything you’d save to Pocket. So yeah, this post qualifies. Oh the irony!
Reading vs “reading”
First of all, I don’t read. I “read” (and I don’t think this is limited to me!). When I “read” an article, I note the title, the first sentence-ish, and maybe the first sentences of a few subsequent paragraphs. Sometimes I’ll go back to the top and read the whole thing, but to be honest, it’s a rarity.
At the end of the day, I’m lucky if I remember enough to say “Oh, I read something about that!” in a later conversation. Then I search through Pocket and Google for 20 mins trying to find it. Sometimes I do.
Feeding the impostor syndrome…
Secondly, let’s mention the impostor syndrome. This has been somewhat of a hot topic lately. Of course, the one article I am thinking of I can’t find (doh!), but here’s another good one. Few things bring up the impostor feelings more than excellent writing on a flawlessly designed site (but more importantly, there are few things as inspiring).
To summarize above, the two main shortcomings with online written media (IMHO) are that 1. I don’t entirely read them, and 2. I sometimes idealize authors in a non-productive way. Podcasts, on the other hand, are awesome because:
Listening trumps “reading”
No way can I listen to a podcast while I’m at work. For one, I wouldn’t internalize anything, and two, listening for five minutes during a break (when you would usually “read” something) doesn’t get you anywhere.
What I’m saying is that you designate time for podcasts, whether it’s on a commute or while you are cleaning at home. Even if you are multitasking, you are in it for more than a few hot seconds of skimming.
Those are real people talking!
Duh, but hearing someone actually talking, you realize, holy moly, Chris Coyier is a real dude! He makes dumb jokes and says “um” just like the rest of us (no offense, Chris, that’s awesome). The people that are larger than life online, come back to life on podcasts. And if you’ve ever had an email miscommunication, you know how important tone is. Web designers are so damn friendly!
Web Industry Podcasts
So, now that you agree that podcasts are the bee’s knees, here are some absolute gems:
With Dan Mall and Jason Blumer
“A podcast about the business of design and the design of business” – it’s basically changed my life. Honestly, this is gold. Maybe I’ll write a longer post about it in future.
With Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert
Front end design and dev at its finest. Excellent interviews and Q&A, very entertaining hosts. Cool to hear people voice the technical stuff that usually just goes on in my head.
Also check out the Big Web Show (now on Mule Radio), Unfinished.bz, and everything on Mule Radio too.
As much as I love listening to everything above, it’s excellent to check out from work thoughts sometimes. Here are some non-web design favorites:
With Ben Schenck and Russell Wilcox
That’s right, my brother, Ben, recently co-founded a podcast. 5 days a week he and Russell Wilcox present an “interview with today’s most extreme, successful, and inspiring people in the outdoors”. It’s excellent and a welcome way to check out from work.
Data Transmission is “one of the leading dance and electronic music websites on the internet”. A little random to post this on my site, but if you like EDM at all this one is excellent. Also see XLR8R.
Also of note are Freakonomics (of course!) and Improv4humans with Matt Besser (acquired taste).