This Christmas, I had Santa/my parents to thank for allowing me to finally join the ranks of the more than 22 million iPod owners. I've downloaded my music and photos onto my 5th-generation iPod, which can now play videos, but am disappointed that shows like "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" don't yet have episodes available for purchase. (What, you want me to watch "Lost"?) So in the mean time, I've dived into the world of podcasts, which are a kind of downloadable audio broadcast.
Apple's podcast directory offers free subscriptions to all kinds of podcasts, in categories like sports, politics, news, technology, entertainment, and more. I've downloaded commentary from ESPN, entire episodes of Bill Maher's HBO show, news feeds and more. Ricky Gervais, star of the terrific BBC show The Office (now playing in the U.S. with Steve Carrell), has a funny talk show in which he and his friends discuss bizarre stories like the recent Cambodian gladiator match between a lion and 42 midgets. (The fight was called off after 12 minutes, we learn, after 28 of the midgets were killed.) Suffice to say, this brand of comedy may not be for everyone.
I was just listening to Slate.com's "The Year in George W. Bush", an overview of 2005 by John Dickerson covering everything: Social Security reform (remember the staged "town hall" Q&A sessions?), the Iraq war, the battle over Terry Schiavo, the new flap over domestic surveillance, and everything in between. This trip down memory lane is well worth a listen.
If any of you have any favorites I should know about, do tell. I don't yet know whether this podcasting thing is going to take off, or whether it will be a passing fad. (Anyone remember the whole "e-books" push from several years ago? That wound up going nowhere.) For now at least, the idea of informative and entertaining programming that can easily be created and enjoyed by anyone seems like a good idea to me!