Does a podcast in of itself count as a portion of the Internet? I decided recently that I’m only going to go online during the morning before I go to work (at least as far as weekdays are concerned). I came to terms with the fact that I could have been getting addicted to surfing the net when I should have been trying to live something of a life—or at least get something productive done. I was spending too many hours after work watching videos online of other people playing video games or reviewing action figures from the eighties and none enough getting caught up on my reading, writing or actually getting outside. So came the decision to limit my Internet time to the hour or so I’m getting ready for work in the morning.
Then there’s things that I use the Internet to download. I’m still trying to catch up on back issues of magazine subscriptions. But I don’t tend to think of reading those as reading the Internet, regardless of whether or not my Kindle is online. Those magazines are getting written anyway for both print and electronic versions. The Internet is simply the tool I use to obtain the latter.
So why raise the question about podcasts? Isn’t it the same principle? When I think it through, yes. If I allow for one then there’s no reason I shouldn’t allow for the other. But as I was trying to play catch up on my podcasts yesterday (I’ve gotten behind on those as well) the thought crossed my mind that this might be cheating, listening to podcasts that I downloaded later. It still feels like I’m online. Podcasts could be thought of as the successors to radio. But they’re made for Internet users. Except for radio shows that were recorded and released online after they’ve aired, podcasts are made with digital distribution in mind. I don’t know how much this might affect the content—that would be the subject of a study bigger than my ranty little blog posts. It reminds me of David Byrne’s How Music Works. I suppose the same idea would apply.
By the way, I should point out that I’m not listening to podcasts on my phone like so many people do nowadays. I find it’s much easier to do it via an older method of downloading podcast episodes and then transferring them to my iPod, which is an older model that doesn’t have any Internet connection on its own.
Whatever I decide as to how I feel about the issue, it’s not going to affect my listening habits. If anything, I would come to the conclusion that my podcast addiction is separate from my YouTube addiction. But so far listening to podcasts on my way to and from work is a less obstructive habit than wasting time in front of a computer screen when I have too much real life to do.
I have a long flight in a few weeks and I’m going to need to keep my mind occupied for the whole thing. One of the things that I was considering doing was getting a copy of Dame Judi Dench’s memoir, And Furthermore, in audio book form. However, I generally don’t buy audio books as I usually only listen to them once. I could borrow the book on CD but I don’t want to take it across the country for fear that I might lose or damage it from traveling. So, what are the legalities of copying the discs onto my iPod and listening to it that way, with the intent on deleting it once I get back?
My understanding of copyright law—which I studied in college but that was over a decade ago—is that such a copy could be made legally if I owned the discs. The copy on my iPod would be considered my legal backup copy, albeit the copy that I would listen to more. But I wouldn’t own the original disc. Does borrowing count? And if it does, how do I know that somebody else hadn’t already made this copy? Furthermore, my library is part of the Hoopla network, which does lend out downloadable copies of audio books (except of course, for that one). How does that work?
These are just idle thoughts. Yes, I’m that hung up on the law that it would scare me from going through with this. But I probably wouldn’t anyway. I don’t have the patience to listen to the entire book in one sitting. I would find it weird as well that the book is read by Samantha Bond rather than Dench herself. I don’t doubt that Bond did a good job, but I would find it strange hearing some other person’s voice telling Dench’s story.
If anything, however, I would probably stock up on different podcasts between now and then. If I’m going to listen to something for the whole six-hour trip (not to mention the waiting time in the airport) I would rather have variety than one thing. I could then also stop between podcasts and pick up a book. Maybe I’ll get a copy of And Furthermore so I can read it with Dame Judi Dench’s voice in my mind.
What else could I take with me to keep me busy? I sold my Game Boy years ago but I’m sure that I could get another one for fairly cheap. I’m not going to take my laptop on the trip. Even if I did, I doubt I’ll take it on the plane with me.
When it comes down to it, I really wish I could just go to sleep. But as I never can fall asleep on a plane. I’ve tried. But considering what time of day my flight is I doubt I’ll be able to anyway. I’m not complaining, though. I’m fine with sitting in a comfortable seat for hours on end, getting caught up on podcasts or reading while getting served drinks and hopefully some food… as long as it’s not one of those chintzy “meal” boxes that I was offered last time.
I’ve come to think of how I consume information in the same way that I get concerned sometimes about my sodium intake. Overall my levels might get a little high sometimes but I’m probably doing more harm to myself worrying about it than anything else. Just like I would be worried about the health of my heart when it comes to how much sodium I consume, I worry my brain is going to explode with all of the news feeds, blogs, and articles I read and all of the podcasts I listen to. Of course I don’t mean that I actually worry about it literally exploding. But I do sometimes wonder if there are in fact any physiological effects to the brain that can be caused by over-stimulating it.
I’m not referring to multi-tasking. Some people swear they can exceed at it while some studies say that they can’t. I don’t try it that much aside from playing music in the background while reading or writing. I indulge my habits in rapid succession. Nearly every day I have RSS feeds from news sources and blogs fed into my Kindle, which I read mostly at work. I get through each piece as fast as I can. When I’m done, which is usually about ten minutes into my lunch break, I switch over to that week’s issue of The New Yorker. As it is I downloaded this week’s issue yesterday morning before I left for work, and as I write this I only have one article and the short story left.
Even in writing this article I had to stop to go to the bathroom, so I took my Kindle in with me. I finished an article on the current relations between the U.S. and Iran. Having gone through that article so quickly without taking notes I can’t say that I remember many names or other details, but I got the general gist of the article that relations between the two countries are better than they have in the past. The article placed special emphasis on Iran’s possible nuclear program and how that may affect those relations. So while I can’t get down every fact I can get the general idea and now where to go if in the future I do need those details.
Also in the morning I download podcasts for the day, including short newscasts for the drive to work. Every chance that I get that listening to podcasts isn’t in the way of something else I’m trying to catch up. I think that by listening to people relay information I’m able to take a bit more in than reading a bunch of articles at once. By listening to people I’m catching their emotion as they’re saying something, which makes that information stick. I’ve said the same for poetry. By giving a piece of writing that fuller experience I’m able to comprehend it more.
Maybe I’m short-changing myself by how much I retain. After all, I’m no idiot, and I wouldn’t do all of this if I didn’t think I was getting enough out of it. When I read a news story that references events from two days prior I’ll usually remember what I read before. I get worried sometimes because cramming has always had a bad reputation. It could be that I’m able to take in all of this extra information because I’m not stressing over deadlines. Or I could just be super-intelligent and I just don’t know it. I think I’ll go with that one.