Are podcasts the new blogs?

Photo by Dushawn Jovic / Unsplash

Personal blogging is looked upon with a huge amount of nostalgia. In a piece for The Verge, Monique Judge writes,

In the beginning, there were blogs, and they were the original social web. We built community. We found our people. We wrote personally. We wrote frequently. We self-policed, and we linked to each other so that newbies could discover new and good blogs.

I want to go back there.

However, I think this is hard. I know that personally, I find it very difficult to focus for long enough to read an entire blog post. This is thanks to the way the internet has conditioned me to digest things in bite-sized chunks; social media has left my brain with an annoyingly short attention span.

I'm working on this, but I can't imagine a huge number of people are that bothered about the fact that they can't read blogs or newspapers or magazines or books anymore. They're happy to be led in the direction the industry is pulling, which is very clearly towards audiobooks and podcasts.

Audio is better

Audio content is perfectly suited to the modern world. Technology has almost completely removed the friction involved in consuming spoken-word content in a few really important ways.

First, you don't have to plan ahead anymore. In the early days of podcasts and audiobooks you had to make sure your iPod was synced with the latest episodes. Now, you can just stream them straight from the internet onto your iPhone. This makes podcasts so much more accessible for listeners.

Second, AirPods and other truly wireless earbuds have freed us from cables such that some people have them in their ears pretty much all day. They can be constantly listening to podcasts or audiobooks without it interfering with their lives. Sure, I guess you could have done this with a well-managed earbud cable, but removing the wire has created a sense of freedom we didn't have before.

Finally, it's so much easier to record and publish a podcast. You can do it on your phone using a free app, and for a relatively small amount of cash you can upgrade to a pretty professional-sounding setup. Free apps like GarageBand and Audacity make it possible to edit your podcast without spending any money. And you can even automatically insert ads into your feed without having to go out and find advertisers yourself.

All of this means that there are more people making podcasts, and more opportunities to listen to them.

Blogs, meanwhile, are less accessible and require a bit more focussed investment. You can't multitask while you read a blog (although I'm intrigued by new apps which are able to convert blogs and other articles into audio in order to solve this problem). And unlike podcasts, there is no centralised directory of blogs to subscribe to, so you have to actively look for the blogs you want.

So for people with ideas to publish, a blog doesn't make a ton of sense when you compare it to the idea of publishing a solo podcast. But there is something romantic and fun about personal blogging, which is why I'm doing it. I actually don't mind that much if nobody reads my blog; writing helps me to clarify my thoughts, and that's a good enough reason for me to keep doing it.

My favourite solo podcasts

These podcasts are all hosted by a single person. Some of them are interview shows and others are monologues. All of them are great.