Webometric Thoughts

November 12, 2007

TWiT: Are you kidding me?

Filed under: podcasts,technology — admin @ 1:08 pm

I just read on Social Media that TWiT(This Week in Tech) have been awarded podcast of the year at the Weblog Awards.If this is truely the best podcast out there it is not surprising that Yahoo recently closed down their podcast directory. This is not to say that TWiT is not a good podcast, merely that even amongst the limited number of podcasts I listen to, it doesn’t manage to stand head and shoulders above the others.

As I have previously mentioned, since getting an N95 I have had a renewed interest in podcasts as I can now download them directly to the device rather than having to mess about with the PC. Since then I have regularly listened to 4 technology-focused podcasts, as well as trying a fifth, and out of the five I would probably put TWiT at about number 3 or 4.

1. Digital Planet. Rather than a true podcast, this is one of the BBC’s world service radio programmes that is made available as a podcast each week. Whereas most of the technological podcasts available focus very much on the western individual, or at least see the world from the perspective of the western individual, the Digital Planet team discusses technological stories with people all over the world; as likely to discuss GPS systems in some rainforest as the latest Apple innovation. A scope and quality unsurprisingly beyond the budget of the average podcast.
2. Crave. Unlike Digital Planet, Crave lives up to our expectations of a podcast: a bunch of people sitting around in a studio discussing what they are interested in, in this case technology and gadgets. Admittedly this is not a podcast for the po-faced with their decidedly teenage sense of humour (although they themselves are not teenagers), but they seeem to know enough to manage to persuade me to buy an RM minibook, a decision I am very happy with.
3. TWiT. TWiT is best summed up as a long (regularly over an hour) podcast involving a bunch of people showing varying degrees of righteous indignation at the week’s technological news. Whilst the people involved in the discussion have strong views, and are by no means fools, on occassion I can find their technological-political views annoying, seemingly stuck somewhere around 2001, where Apple is the plucky little guy fighting the tyranical Microsoft, and Google really lives by the philosophy of ‘do no evil’. To me the technological sphere has far more grey areas than this show acknowledges.
4. FrequencyCast. A monthly podcast on UK TV and technology. Very much a podcast for the UK resident, and unlikely to be of interest to anyone anywhere else. That however is not the reason it is number 4 on my list, that decision was based on the shows format of the technological geek constantly explaining things to the technophobe getting a bit tiresome after a while.
5. Mike Tech Show. Described as “Technology and computer podcast discussing cool sites, software, tips and tricks that will make you more productive at home and work.” Maybe I caught a particularly boring episode, or maybe it caught me on an off day, but I only managed to listen to about 2 minutes before turning this one off. One that I should probably give another chance before placing it at the bottom of the pile.

I think it is more likely that TWiT’s particular subject and brand of technological politics appealed to the particular voting audience, rather than TWiT having the podcast of the year. If I can think of better podcasts within the same field, then I am sure there are likely to be numerous better ones across different genres.

October 5, 2007

QR Codes, podcasting and the N95

Filed under: N95,QR codes,podcasts — admin @ 1:19 pm

One of the problems with N95 is that it can do so much it takes ages to try all the different bits out. The last couple of days I have been utilising a couple of the features on the N95 that I hadn’t quite got around to. I started with the podcasts, and that led me on to the QR Codes.

I have always found podcasts to be one of those things that have great potential, but I have never managed to quite get to work for me. Previously this has been due to my need to download the relevant files to my computer before transfering them to my MP3 player, which I never managed to successfully fit into my schedule. The N95 however, allows me to subscribe and download directly to the phone…podcasting is alive and well once again (although seemingly too late for Yahoo’s Podcasts site).

A topic that occured on a couple of the podcasts I subscribed to this week (one of which was Digital Planet) was QR Codes. Whilst they have been around for a number of years, and are supposedly big in Japan, they have hit the news now as they are being incorporated in an advertising campaign for the 28 days later DVD in London. Basically the 2D barcodes allows for the inclusion of over 4,000 alphanumeric characters, which can be read through a mobile phone with a camera and the required software. Some phones, such as the N95, come with the software installed, whereas others need to have it downloaded.

Personally I think that the 28 weeks later advert gets it wrong by including a URL in normal text on the bottom. QR Codes are engaging when you don’t know what they say. If I saw a QR code on its own I would scan it; seeing it with the URL for a film I don’t care about, I don’t bother because I know I am not interested. Obviously, if QR codes take off in the UK, we will become immune to most of them, and will need the extra information to persuade us that they are worth looking at. At this stage however, I believe a bigger buzz would have been created without it…but there again some of the other views of the people behind the campaign are quite questionable.

Personally I like the potential of the QR codes, and I am currently trying to get a T-shirt printed with my own personalised QR code message on it.

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