Documentary for my Ears

I was excited to be assigned podcasts this week. Sometimes time slips away and fitting in time to fully comprehend an article or blog is rushed by time constraints. It becomes remarkably easy to skim over entire sentences or portions of a text in an effort to ensure you can reach the end. Rather than hyper-focusing on each detail – sometimes, when in a time crunch, it becomes more important to understand the gist of the article in lieu of devoting your full attention.

I am currently in this time crunch. In an effort to balance a full time career and school – both of which bleed into my personal time, reading an article word for word has become a luxury I cannot afford. But at what cost? Because of my inability to take on a reasonable amount of work, am I doomed to only have access to snippets of information truncated by the pressures of my own schedule?

Enter the podcast – a documentary for my ears. Not only do I get to just relax and listen, but it gets to happen in an environment where I am not subjected to the constant nagging of what I should be doing. In my truck, during my commute, there are no pressures from the outside world that demand my attention. I do not answer my phone; I cannot write a paper; I cannot go to a meeting. In my truck I get to be free of it all, and there is no guilt or pressure to do multiple things at one time. It offers an environment where I can just listen and enjoy the history of a subject I am fascinated by. As crazy as it sounds coming from a 21st century Atlantan, but if I hit traffic – even better.

The podcast breaks up the monotony of learning in a singular format. The input of information is produced in a manner where questions are asked, fluctuating cadences demand my attention, and varying perspectives are offered. I have immediately appreciated the format because it fits so well into my life, and it gives me the time to learn more about subjects that I had previously wished I had time for.

I got sucked into the rabbit hole of 99% Invisible. After listening to the assigned episodes, I found myself completely entranced and listening the history of the Citicorps building, the Green Book, the Chicago Canal, the Cul de sac, and Victor Gruen. One of the claims the narrator made was of particular interest. In the episode about the public drinking fountain, the narrator assumes that no one has ever been excited about meeting up at the drinking fountain. Interestingly enough, not only have people in the past been excited about it, but the initial invention was much more importance than just convenience. It was born out of a social and medical need. In a very casual manner, the producers of this podcast challenge the idea that feelings today can be projected on to the past.

In the case of Serial, I have not been able to figure out exactly how the narrator paints a picture of Adnan’s friend as a liar and Adnan as an innocent. The set up was so subtle, I found myself trying to pin point how she was able to accomplish this without overt claims. In addition to the convenience of having this story in a digital format, it highlights the importance that digital media has now in creating alibis. What if Adnan had been able to check in at the library?

Though I realize that Twitter is also a valuable tool of the historian, it has not been able to fulfill an immediate need in my own day to day life so I feel less affectionate toward Twitter as a platform from my personal perspective. Regardless, the variety we have in making history available to the public is vital in reaching the public in a myriad of ways.

-Sarah Love

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