My affection for audio learning began with regular three hour weekend drives - but that really was the era of the audiobook. A renewed commitment to multitasking at playgrounds and bicycle commuting, however, has moved me towards a new and different form of aural occupation - the podcast. I listen to - no, really - every one of the University of Chicago's faculty podcasts, but after a while grew tired of trying to find other academic law related ones (tracking through iTunes to download one-off conferences at, say, Duke or Southwestern gets old). Still, not everyday has to be about the Guardian's hilarious Football Weekly, or Slate's uniformly excellent daily podcast (though it says something about Slate that even though the podcasters and subjects change, depending on the day of the week, I look forward to each of them).
I've enjoyed being able to use Downcast to pick and choose among Council on Foreign Relations talks - they do something on international economic policy about once every fortnight. Bloomberg law has a good IP law podcast on occasion. I'm at a business school, so I get plenty out of Knowledge at Wharton. Planet Money is always good. And so is a class, on occasion - I've liked Robert Schiller's finance class at Yale, and I'm enjoying David Blight's civil war class.
But I'm always interested in learning about podcasts that I'm missing out on. Do let me know if there are some you like.
Aside from my daily dose of Marketplace, which I listen to while walking to work each morning, my favorite podcast is Stanford's Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, which accompanies me on the walk home. Today I listened to a 2005 conversation between Mark Zuckerberg and Jim Breyer (Accel Partners) about Facebook.
Zuckerberg presents Facebook as a classic whiz-kid startup, where fortuity seems to fill center stage. No mention of ConnectU, but lots of entertaining stories, like the one about Zuckerberg's Harvard roommate who wanted to help with the company and read "Perl for Dummies" over one weekend to learn programming. When the roommate presented himself to Zuckerberg as "ready to help," Zuckerberg observed, "Dude, it's not written in Perl." Zuckerberg also reveals that he loves to muck around in the data generated by Facebook, bragging that he could predict future relationships on the site at a rate over one-third. Scary how much we reveal online ...
My friend Nate Oman has launched a new "legal scholarship podcast" called Law Talk. His first guest is another friend, Steve Smith, at the University of San Diego. Great discussion and an auspicious start for the podcast. Nate has invited me to guest on a future session, but don't let that dissuade you from subscribing via iTunes or Feedburner.
A few days ago, Gordon noted that his new walk to work allows him to listen to podcasts and audio books regularly. I suspect almost all of us have a commute that would permit us to plug our heads into an iPod for a reasonable chunk of the day, and I wonder whether the practice may have some salutary consequences that aren't entirely obvious.
Many have lamented the abandonment of the public sphere that iPoddery seems to encourage, and I share their reservations. But since no one is going to rid us of our temptation for Apple's forbidden fruit any time soon, and there's little prospect of strangers on mass transit sitting down for a collective cup of tea in the near future, perhaps we ought to pan for a silver lining. Like Gordon, a number of the listeners amongst us are not simply whiling away the time with tunes but are instead learning the news of the day or "reading" books.
After the proliferation of telephones reduced the need for personal correspondence, there was no doubt much bewailing of the loss of a literate culture. But email may have in certain quarters revivified the written word. (Those quarters are the ones in which written communication has not devolved to quick burps of emoticons and SMS contractions in text messages.) Many people I know write much more now than they ever did before the profusion of email.
Similarly, I wonder whether audio books might not allow us to march through canons and classics that would otherwise remain unopened on our bookshelves if enjoying them meant wading through dactylic hexameter in four-minute increments scattered throughout the day. On audible.com, Homer's unabridged Odyssey is about twelve hours long, or less than a fortnight's labor with a thirty-minute commute each way. Perhaps this technology will allow us to avoid the French dilemma of figuring out "How to Discuss Books that One Has Not Read."
Of course, this practice will require us to broaden our notion of what it means "to read" a book. Evidently, book groups all across the land are already getting snippy with members who choose to listen rather than to read their homework. But even if one is a purist, that still leaves plenty of classics -- by Homer, Dickens, and the like -- which are the product of an oral tradition or clearly intended to be read aloud.
Would it be better if, as in auld Ireland, everyone still said "God save all here" upon entering a public house instead of mutely staring out from the headphoned vacancy of his or her own audio pod? Yes, I think so. But with that possibility ruled out, the notion that all those pod people are wandering around in edifying tutorials is a more encouraging prospect.
Since arriving in Utah, I have been walking to work and listening to podcasts and recorded books. Podcasts from Marketplace and FT have been my staples, but I am interested in learning about more. I just found the Bloomberg podcasts this morning, courtesy of a post by Peter Klein.
Do you have any favorites? They don't have to be about business or law ... or business law.
It's now available over at the Office Hour website.
Since I began podcasting, I have been more conscious of my speaking voice. Tonight I stumbled across a site that offers 10 tips for taking care of your speaking voice. Here they are:
1. Don't smoke! Don't smoke! Don't smoke! Oh, and stay away from smokey environments.
2. Hydration matters. Drink at least 8, 8-ounce glasses of water per day (64 ounces); more if you drink caffeine, alcohol, or if you’re exercising.
3. Eliminate excessive throat clearing.
4. Limit alcohol intake.
5. Avoid vocally abusive behaviors.
6. Avoid chronic use of mouthwash.
7. Posture matters.
8. Exercise regularly to keep your body, mind, and spirit healthy.
9. Get sufficient sleep daily.
10. Always warm up your voice before or cool down after prolonged speaking or singing.
I cut out much of the detail, but I was especially intrigued by the list of "vocally abusive behaviors" after point six. Here is their list:
Whispering is bad for your voice? Who would have guessed?
If you are interested in listening to Office Hour Podcast #3, check here.
It's now available at the Office Hour website.
is up over at Office Hour. Complete with program notes.
Feedback is welcome. But be kind. I am a rookie podcaster.
This past week has been filled with article editing, expert witness work, and preparation of materials for my Business Organizations casebook -- plus a fair amount of parenting, since my wife and daughters are out of town and I am at home with my three sons -- but I have been taking some time late at night to work on my podcasting venture. You can see the results so far at Office Hour.
I am chronicling the creation of a podcast, which is substantially more complicated than the purveyors of products and services for this medium would lead you to believe. At least if you want to do it right., And why do it any other way? If you have experience creating or listening to podcasts, your advice would be very much appreciated, and all of the posts over there have plenty of room for comments.
I am still lacking two things before the site is more-or-less complete. I need to populate my list of favorite podcasts, and I ask for your help over there. And I need some theme music for the podcast. Thanks to some tips that I received in response to my post below, I have made progress on this front, and I should have something nifty set by Tuesday.
Over the past few months, I have been slowly investigating podcasting, and I have decided to take the plunge. In the near term, this will be a solo act, but it may evolve into a Conglomerate affiliate or who-knows-what. I have decided on the basic concept for the show: it will be called Office Hour and will feature me talking about a variety of topics, sort of a combination of this blog, Subsidiary Thoughts, and an occasional Times & Seasons. I am almost ready to unveil my site, but I won't publish any podcasts until at least next week. In the meantime, I would be curious for feedback on two questions:
1. What would you be interested in hearing about in my podcast? (Keep it clean!)
2. Where should I get my theme music? I am going to steer clear of popular music, and I am leaning toward licensing music from a place like this or this. Having never done this before, however, I could use some guidance from a music person.
Responses in the comments or via email are welcome.
This is an exploratory post on the possible uses of podcasting in legal education. As time permits, I have been listening to podcasts (even though I don't own an iPod or any other mp3 player). While I don't expect Christine to jump on the bandwagon anytime soon, I have the sense that podcasts could be useful in legal education. The comment lines are open, and I hope you will share your ideas.
Here are some preliminary thoughts. The primary values of podcasting over standard classroom experiences are threefold: (1) communication is asynchronous, so the speaker and the listener are not required to be engaged at the same time; (2) podcasts are remotely accessible, so the speaker and the listener can be in different places; and (3) podcasts store information for replay and recall. The big issue here is whether these advantages answer pedagogical concerns.
The most mundane use of podcasting in education would be to record class and make it available online. Or to give a lecture to a microphone and post it. While I don't mind the idea of recording a lecture, I am less keen on the idea of recording discussions. Would recording inhibit discussion? (Maybe) Or preserve embarrassing moments for me or a student? (Absolutely) Or discourage students from attending. (Almost certainly at the margins.) The advantages of this use of podcasts seem limited, given that we are not engaged in distance learning, so I am inclined to be negative on this idea.
A step beyond recording lectures or class discussions for later use is to record something supplemental, something that otherwise would not be available to students. Like commentary on current events relating to the class. Or an interview with a judge or litigant or another professor. Or a discussion of scholarly literature in a certain area. Again, I am not sure this addresses a current need and students may wonder why they are doing "extra" work (using the status quo as a baseline). The jury is out on this idea.
Here is an idea that might catch on: podcast exam evaluations. After each examination or other assignment, the professor could record a brief description of the exam, what the best answers said, and what the worst answers missed. I usually do a memo to my students, but they might like this more.
We could get more creative with this and construct projects that last for several weeks and involve the use of podcasts to provide ongoing information. For example, you might have a litigation project in which the podcasts are deposition excerpts or a transactional project in which podcasts are new developments in the deal. Hmm. Sounds like a lot of work for marginal gains.
Those are some preliminary thoughts, mostly pointing away from podcasting in legal education. I would be interested to hear what others are thinking about this.