Thursday, January 8, 2009

Podcasts and Audiobooks: A new discovery (for me)

It’s kind of crazy if you sit and think about how fast technology changes. How popular things like myspace and facebook have become. Twitter. What the heck is twitter and can I add it to my list of time wasting addictions? Students on campus are constantly on their cell phones…texting away.

Anyway, podcasts and audiobooks. I’m getting there, hold your horses. One year ago I moved to Texas. I flew down while my furniture drove itself and while on the plane I listened to the book “Into the Wild” on my iPod. Although expensive, audiobooks have become one of my favorite things. This is partly because I’m lazy. Yet I have a desire to learn. You can learn a lot through reading books. But I read so many textbook pages and scientific journal articles, sometimes I could use a break. Listening can be just as beneficial. So when my hands are too lazy to hold up a book, and my eyes are too tired to follow along, I turn to audio books. Plus, I spend so much time in my car--what a waste of time! Hours and hours spent doing nothing but staring at the road or listening to music. I love music of course, but sometimes you need something more stimulating. Plus, when you have an audio book going in your head phones you can be learning something while, say, waiting in lines. (Of course I do realize that headphones are rather anti-social, but that’s another blog).

I also read “A New Earth” last year. In fact, I read along with Oprah and thousands of people around the world. And I listened to her webcast with the author on iTunes each week. And it was great. Who needs to watch violent or dramatic TV shows when you can sit down and listen to something a bit more meaningful? TV really is rather stupid—we are all watching and living vicariously through the fake lives of others. What do we really gain from TV (well, the majority of the shows anyway)? Yes, I realize that many people need, er, like, to watch TV to get away and forget about their problems--but I argue our time should be spent doing other things too.

So when I drove home a few days ago I decided to try out more podcasts. There are podcasts on everything! One of my favorites is Science Fridays on NPR, which covers a broad range of topics—including the Christmas Bird Count. Of course the other one I find particularly interesting is the Animal Planet podcast which features different National Parks in “Get out there” and also various wildlife topics in “Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom”. Another podcast I enjoyed on my drive was about Jane Goodall's return to Gombe.

I’ve also decided that I don’t really need to be in a car to listen to podcasts and audiobooks—so I’ve decided to turn off the TV more, and just listen. Plus, its easier to muti-task while listening than it is while watching. I finished “The Last Lecture”, am in the middle of “The Shack”, and have “The Lovely Bones” on the waiting list. I know that audio books are very expensive—so I’m still trying to figure out a way around this. The books above were popular reads and were fairly cheap--just gotta look around I guess. And of course podcasts are free.

Soon I’ll have to stop wasting my time with novels and hit the text books again, but maybe I can “read” during lunch every day instead of watching bad court TV shows. (I have no cable).


anw said...

I have no ipod. Sad. And The Lovely Bones gave me nightmares. For weeks. Good luck.

skradepa said...

(Linked to here from ANW's blog & realized that you're the one that fills her entire facebook wall in ~24 hours.) So I spend the entire summer by myself in MT with no fun field techs or even cell reception, and so before I leave Ames I load up my laptop with audiobooks from the public library and play them through the car stereo on my ipod. I used to buy them but like you said they're way $$$. I figure I'm only going to listen to them once anyway...