I am a creature of the written word: there is nothing I like better than reading, unless it’s writing. I can spell almost anything (although I always have to think carefully about fuchsia – until I remember that it’s from the name of German botanist Leonhart Fuchs) and am a whizz at indices/indexes (both acceptable: the first is Latin, the second later English). And – thanks in no small part to a ferocious teacher for O-level comprehension – I can pick the salient points out of any article, diatribe, commentary, essay, study, report or assessment in a matter of moments. What I am not very good at is listening. My hearing is perfectly fine, thank you, but I do drift off when I am expected to sit still and listen for long periods without doing something else. I can manage an episode of “Desert Island Discs” while I am cooking, or a drama on Radio 4 while I am knitting, but something for work, while I am expected to just sit and listen without being distracted – that’s hard.
It’s particularly hard because the world – or at least the world of AML – has gone podcast-mad. Just this week I have had three podcast-alerts drop into my email box, each linking me to something lasting an hour. A whole hour! I’m almost certainly not consuming podcasts in the right way: they’re meant for thrusting young things commuting by train into the City, listening via wireless earbuds (I may be making this up) to one of their three smartphones. I work from home, and have a steam-driven smartphone and no earbuds, which means that I try to play podcasts on my laptop, speakers turned on – a bit like the radio. And of course, after about ten minutes, I start to look around my desk for something else to do – with a podcast, unlike a written article, you can’t just flick forward to the bit that interests you. And it’s not like face-to-face training, when you can gaze at the speaker and at other people: it’s just me alone in the office, watching the podcast time marker creeping along the bar to the hour. And before I know it, I’m halfway through my tax return and I’ve missed almost all of the podcast.
Is it possible for this (fast-reading, slow-listening) dinosaur to make a little plea to podcasters? I really do want the information that you are sharing – the topics sound fascinating, and I’d like to hear the latest thinking from experts. But is it possible for you to make a written transcript of your podcast and send that instead…?