by Dan Gibson
There are media topics I'm generally ahead of the curve on (promising indie bands from Australia, trivia games for the iPhone, a few others), but I guess I'm a little out of the loop on the podcast beat. I listen to podcasts on my way home sometimes, but I don't really seek out new stuff on that front. So, this might be old news to everyone else, but the TLDR podcast from WNYC is kind of spectacular.
A sub-project of On the Media, a weekly show that can be heard here on 89.1 FM Sundays at 3 p.m., TLDR's tagline "The Internet, Shorter" (and their name, online shorthand for "Too Long, Didn't Read") sums up the tone of their podcast...one story per episode on some aspect of online culture.
The most recent show (from March 10) featured friend-of-Tucson-Weekly Dave Maass from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and his quest to learn more about Sgt. Star, a bot on the Army's recruitment page designed to answer questions from potential soldiers. It's short (less than 12 minutes), informative (the hosts talk to the people who designed the bot and someone who has written extensively about the perils of modern war) and interesting on a specific level (why have a bot answer questions?) and on a larger scope of what military recruitment is like in 2014.
Driving back from Toltec yesterday (DON'T ASK), I ended up listening to six episodes in a row - one on the internet phenomenon of The Slender Man, one on Swatch's failed attempt to create a new system of time, a great story about what happens when you win the HGTV Dream Home, a story of a game I'm totally playing next year where people try to avoid finding out who won the Super Bowl - turning me into a dedicated listener over the course of an hour or so.
There are billions of podcasts out there, so, for me, it was great to find one that doesn't take up too much time and leaves me feeling like I'm a bit smarter by the end.
Got a better one I should be following? Feel free to chime in.