Saturday, 27 October 2007

An Observation on Blogs and Podcasts

I've come quite late to the Web 2.0 world. About a year and a half ago I started to listen to podcasts while walking my dog. One of the things I discovered is how much differently I react to people when I hear their voice in a podcast.

When I read what Steve McConnell and Joel Spolsky write, I have trouble getting to the end of their articles because they seem to be just so wrong about too much. (I'll explain why below.) However, when I heard podcasts by them, they made a lot more sense. I don't know why, but there's something about a verbal communication, even when the person isn't present, that seems to somehow help me hear the whole message in the right context.

For example, when I read Joel's stuff about how to manage software teams, I think he's out to lunch because what he recommends would be impossible to implement for 99.9 percent of working software development managers out there. I'm sure he's said so much in his writing, but it wasn't until I heard a podcast by him that I really heard how much he admits that his is a special case. As soon as I heard that, my opinion of him as a person changed and I was able to read and listen to him in a whole different way.

With McConnell, I've always felt that his experience, research and analysis of software development was staggeringly good, which made the fact that he draws absolutely the wrong conclusions from his knowledge all the more maddening. I forget what it was about the podcast that softened my opinion of him, but I do remember quite well finishing the podcast and thinking that, while his conclusions are still wrong, I have much more respect for him than I did from his writings.

1 comment:

andrew said...

I'll second that. I find it quite different listening to people speak. (mostly in podcasts but also at the occasional conference) You do seem to get a different perspective hearing someone's voice rather than just reading what they write.

I guess it shouldn't be too surprising - look at the difference between email and telephone and face to face. Maybe it's because it's technical material we think that it should all be there in the writing.

I still value reading as well. I'm often much more interested in buying someone's book after hearing them speak.