Roy Tang

roytang.net

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

Blog Notes Photos Links Archives About

Filed under "Things I Don't Really Grok"

Podcasts and audiobooks

These 2 are kind of in the same boat. Their main sin is that they are audio-only. When consuming content, my order of preference for formats is roughly:

  • text (+images I guess) (most preferred)
  • video (with audio)
  • audio only (least preferred)

I think these preferences have to do with information density: I'm pretty sure I prefer text because text can convey the most amount of information in the least amount of bits. I'll also watch informative videos, to a point. If it's movie-length, it better be damn entertaining.

That leaves us with audio. I don't see the appeal. I try podcasts, sometimes, when I'm out walking or such. Audiobooks, I've never tried. My main concern is the amount of attention you have to give the content. Because you only have the audio as a source of information, if you lose track of it, then why are you even bothering? And if I try to listen to an audiobook or podcast while doing something else that requires my attention, there's a very low chance I'll be able to absorb anything from it.

Even the few times I've tried to listen to podcasts while I'm out walking, I only dare to if I'm walking in this safe, short, and circular route inside our subdivision. I wouldn't dare do it in the streets outside where there's real traffic. That seems like a recipe for being distracted while crossing the road, which CAN LEAD TO DEATH! Granted, the odds of such a disaster are fairly low, but why risk it?

Maybe if I still had a regular 2-hour commute (one way) to work, then audiobooks/podcasts would be more appealing while I sit in the back of an FX in Metro Manila traffic. But even then, I think I'd rather nap.

I make an exception for listening to music of course. Listening to music doesn't take much concentration, and can easily happen as a background task, so that's fine.

Maybe I just haven't found the right podcast to follow? IDK, I've tried a few. Never could keep it up as a habit. Also, can I subscribe to podcasts using RSS feeds? I think I can, but I've never tried it. Like, if I find a podcast on Spotify there doesn't seem to be an RSS option?

Newsletters

By "Newsletters", I don't mean those popups that appear on news sites or commercial blogs asking you to subscribe to get updates or such. Those are just spammy marketing BS and I have no interest in such.

By "Newsletters", I'm referring to a recent trend in the tech/online world of people moving their writing from websites/blogs to newsletters via platforms such as substack. These have some merit, as it basically involves the type of blog writing I like to consume, except in email newsletter form. There are some such newsletters whose posts I've read and I do find their content interesting.

So what's the problem? The problem is I want to treat this type of content the same way I treat blog posts and newspaper editorials - as casual reading that I can pick up and read at my leisure. And (for me at least), casual reading doesn't belong in my email inbox.

I have an inbox zero policy, and to achieve that I'm very strict about what I let in my email inbox. It's mostly limited to actual conversations with people and important notifications. The email inbox is not where I'd like to consume casual reading that I can pick up whenever I'd like. Just the idea of leaving them there while having unread markers is annoying. In theory I could filter them to a subfolder and then the unread count would accumulate there, but I don't like unread counts even in my email subfolders!

I have nothing against the Substack business model (writers gotta earn a living I guess) and I'm sure a lot of people don't mind consuming casual reading content via email, but Substack (and similar platforms) should provide alternate ways to consume their content, preferably RSS feeds. In the meantime I've been using a service called Kill the Newsletter to subscribe to a few newsletters I like. It works well enough (though I checked just now and one of the feeds, on a nonsubstack platform, seems to have stopped last June. I just created a new inbox in KTN for it).

(It would be even better if the content writers made their content available on their own websites, instead of centralized in a silo like Substack!)

In any case, are there any newsletters anyone can recommend that might be relevant to my interests?

Posted by under blog at #tech-life

Also on: mastodon twitter / 🔁 1 780 words

Last modified at: Oct. 23, 2020, 4:34 a.m.. Source file

🔁 Adrian Cochrane