Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Thing 17 - Podcasts

This is an enormous Thing to think about. Podcasts have been put to use in so many different ways, intended to inform, amuse, instruct, entertain etc. However, I've hardly any experience of them! I don't have a computer at home, nor an ipod (yes, I'm pretty much a dinosaur), so they've not had the chance to become something I take advantage of yet. Guided by the links in the 23Things post on the subject and by looking at other Thinger's blogs I've watched/listened to a fair few, and in this post I'm going to focus on podcasts as used by libraries, and specifically those intended to inform/instruct.

I know that there are numerous situations in which podcasts are the most effective or only possible method of communicating with a certain group of users. However, it's also clear from a browse on YouTube that there are an awful lot of really bad ones out there! I think I'm against libraries using this kind of technology for the sake of it, or as a gimmick. I think it undermines our credibility and the messages we're trying to communicate.

I know that there are times when using as many different media as possible is the key to communicating with the whole spectrum of users and potential users. But I also think that it's important to consider the merits of each medium (e.g. leaflets, posters, booklets, web content, etc) and choose accordingly. For example, a podcast will take longer to watch than reading a simple and short set of instructions. If you're making a podcast for instructive purposes (and not entertainment) I think it's important to bear in mind the same kind of things that you would if you were writing. Make it intelligible, concise, no waffling, no swanky panning shots of the outside of the library during which the viewer may well get bored and give up (although these might be appropriate in a podcast with a different aim)! Having said all that, I'm not completely against the more casual and informal. Watching/listening to a regular podcast in which staff talk about/show library changes/developments/news could be much more engaging than reading a newsletter.

Although I've neither the time nor opportunity to create one now, I would certainly enjoy the challenge of podcasting should the opportunity arise in the future...

Podcast, by derrickkwa, on flickr

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