Podcast rant – the Dilbert Principle as revealed by the signal to noise ratio of IT podcasts

There are many press releases on the web discussing the wonderful (or terrible, depending on your point of view) development of academic lectures being distributed to the world at large as podcasts. I fall firmly in the camp of those who think such a development is a mark of progress and a step towards realising the dream of free access to high quality ideas and well-thought-out commentary that will support the growth of civilisation in this increasingly dark age that we inhabit. So, you will not be surprised to learn, I went in search of the aforementioned podcasts to feed my yearnings for something substantial from my web trawling. Imagine my disappointment when I went to several podcast directories to find those golden podcasts [that are worth listening to] only to discover that there are literally millions of the blasted things that purport to cover science (or whatever discipline you want) but which are actually low-bandwidth channels for the diseased ramblings and insane imaginings of their loopy hosts. For example, under Philosophy one is more likely to find fundamentalist born-again christian, muslim, buddhist or fruitarian podcasts than rational argument on the nature of reality. My personal favourite is “MessiahCast“. As with academic journals, moderators and peer reviews are essential for the medium to be of any worth. After all, why would I be interested in exposing myself to mongrel strains of the virulent memes of total strangers? Anyway, I did find offerings from Stanford, Harvard and Bath universities. That is a pretty poor showing considering that Apple cliams to have a whole branch of iTunes devoted to university podcast hosting.