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This Week in Tedium

November 21, 2007

Clapperboard For the first time in a long time I listened to an episode of This Week in Media, the podcast hosted by Pixel Corps head honcho Alex Lindsay, and rapidly regretted it.

It is maddening when there are interesting snippets of news or knowledge to be had from the world of digital cinematography and the like, but these are buried deep under all the raucous infantile banter.

In episode 74 Alex and his regular panellists started on a discussion about youTube and video compression, in particular the trade-off between higher bitrate (for better quality) and instant uninterrupted playback. My ears pricked up as I had just been looking into better quality alternatives to youTube.

To illustrate the issues, Alex started on an entirely relevant personal anecdote about how he watches Internet news items in the morning, and mentioned his daily routine including how he always has either scrambled egg or an omelette. Truly fascinating. I was still pondering the thought that he probably had an unhealthy cholesterol level and was heading for a heart attack, when the discussion was hijacked by one of the panellists protesting that scrambled eggs and omelettes were too similar for the distinction to be worth making. My reaction was that the point was too uninteresting and irrelevant to be worth the digression. I endured long infuriating minutes listening to the ensuing irrelevant discourse on matters oval before Alex got his Internet video story back on track.

scrambled egg

Alex and his pals must think listeners enjoy their infantile small talk. Maybe in Alex’s mind, listeners find his personality so charming and engaging that they look forward to the schoolboy reminiscences and digressions even more than the meaty media news. Personally, I find Alex comes over as self-satisfied and domineering, that his right hand man John Foster is a close second in the arrogance stakes and the whole group is obscenely overindulgent. They waste an hour and a half of my podcast listening schedule to convey useful information that could have been delivered far more digestibly in 20 minutes tops.

I started listening to This Week in Media (TWiM) when it was part of Leo Laporte‘s burgeoning This Week in Tech (TWiT) network of podcasts. Having benefited from TWiT’s success, Alex Lindsay later concluded TWiM was sufficiently established to form the basis of its own autonomous podcast network, although there are still close links. To my mind Leo is well rid of the responsibility.

Speaking of the TWiT network, there is an example of a podcast where the chemistry between the presenters, the banter and the digressions are often more enjoyable in their own right than the headline subject matter. I’m thinking of the Daily Giz Wiz hosted by Leo and Dick DeBartolo. Unlike the TWiM crew, Dick and Leo do have engaging personalities, a sense of humour and fun, are not full of themselves and don’t go on forever.

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