Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Geeks Have Inherited the Airwaves: Podcasting Isn't Clever or Cool-It's Just Plain Nerdy

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Geeks Have Inherited the Airwaves: Podcasting Isn't Clever or Cool-It's Just Plain Nerdy

Article excerpt

A lot of people think podcasting is really cool. They know that it's in some way connected with the internet, and they've heard that Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand are into it: ergo, it must be, like, down with the kids.

This is barmy. Podcasting is for geeks--created by geeks, listened to by geeks. Think about it. Don't you ever wonder why you no longer see anyone wearing a Marillion T-shirt? I'd bet good money that the reason for this is that the owners of said T-shirts are all too busy at home, messing around with their podcast software. (By the way, if you are a Marillion fan, and are unwilling to seek help for this distressing condition, I know of two prog-rock casts that you will like; I discovered them while I was rather childishly trying to back up my geek theory. One is called Rogues' Gallery, which goes out on the Dividing Line, an internet radio station; the other is at www.silhobbit.com.)

Look at the top 100 podcasts in the iTunes Store online, and you will see that, right now, no fewer than six of them have been brought to you by National Geographic magazine. (However, the BBC still reigns supreme, with 22 podcasts in the top 100, of which 20 are podcast versions of radio shows. My current favourite is the podcast version of From Our Own Correspondent.) It's perfectly acceptable to enjoy National Geographic up until the age of about nine; there was nothing I liked more as a nine-year-old than gawping at photographs of blue whales or the giraffe women of Burma. But as soon as I turned ten, I turned to more sophisticated reading matter such as, er, Look-in and Jackie. So who, I wonder, is downloading and listening to all these National Geographic podcasts? There can be only one answer to this: geeks.

But what kind of geeks? This past week, I listened to another National Geographic cast: Walks of a Lifetime, which is basically a series of city guides. …

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