I’m hoping it’s lucky that my first day blogging coincides with the inauguration of Barack Obama. Good luck to him and me – although he’ll need a lot more than me.
We have two friends who have been a source of inspiration for starting a website: Graham and his blog Noodlepie, and Ben with Notes from Spain. Ben then branched out to podcasting for Notes in Spanish and he hasn’t looked back, both he and his wife have given up their day jobs and are professional bloggers / podcasters. Why is it though that the concept of blogging has taken over the world (every man, woman and dog it seems is a blogger) whereas podcasting continues to puzzle? I would say most people I speak to, either in the UK or abroad, say they have no idea what a podcast is. Richard, after his successful talk about podcasting for IATEFL in 2007, is still being asked to write articles for English teaching magazines to explain what podcasting is (most recently for the TESOL-Spain newsletter) and how it can be used in the classroom. What’s that all about, eh?
Then I realised that, although I’m a podcaster myself, I don’t listen to any podcasts! I avidly read a range of blogs but I honestly can’t recall listening to a podcast other than other efl ones (the competition!) I’m trying to work out why that is – perhaps it’s something to do with not being able to listen for gist. It’s easy to use all those reading skills on a blog – I can glance at the heading, any pics and read a few sentences and decide instantly if the blog’s worth reading in more detail. But with a podcast that’s more difficult, right? Especially if it’s long – which many of them are. However many words in an article I can read as little or as much as I like, and at any speed. With a podcast that’s not possible. You can do it with songs – I recently had to choose a theme song to go with a video I’d made. I had a CD with hundreds of songs to choose from but it was quite easy to listen to the start and then fast forward to get an idea of whether the song was suitable. But if a couple of people are chatting away you really have to listen to it all – and that I don’t find very appealling somehow. However interesting the topic seems I don’t want to put 20 minutes aside, even if I can listen and do somethig else at the same time. All things to bear in mind when preparing podcasts for learners of English of course… and I wonder if this is one of the reasons why blogging is more popular then podcasting.