Dear Podcasts - You're Ruining My Life

May 19, 2020

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Ok 'life' is a bit of an overstatement...

But podcasts are definitely ruining my productivity.

What started out as a fresh new stream of ideas and intellectual conversation has morphed into ... well something no different than the news.

Here are the notifications I woke up to on April 28th...

  • 3hr 33min - Eric Weinstein The Portal
  • 3hr 02min - The Joe Rogan Experience
  • 1hr 07min - Andrew Yang
  • 20min - Evan You Vue code walkthrough

...that's 8hrs of podcasts!

Now, you don't have to listen to everything, especially in one day, and of course I didn't. But I do like to keep up with certain people and their thoughts...and these people don't stop creating content.

Casters - I know most of the value comes from free flow and random conversation - but can you just prepare a tiny bit and stick to shorter time limits.

No need for mainstream media 5-minute soundbites - but 3hr megathons!? - I can't even listen to that in a single workout.

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Truthfully, the fault is mine - I'm the type of person that listens intently...

...I like to get fully vested in the conversation.

I can't put on a conversation in the background while I do other stuff - even during workouts is pushing it for me.

I like to pretend like I'm in class - listening to a lecture.

With the amount of content I'm subscribed to, this wouldn't be an issue if it only came out once a week, but it's turning into daily news.

Podcasts are slowly becoming the same thing most podcasters say they hate so much - the 'mainstream media'.

TV and the news wasn't just invented the way it is today.

It started off slowly.

1 show, just a couple of ads, then people wanted more content, TV stations realized they could make more money with more time watched and more ads, so inevitably made more shit, content quality suffered...and so it snowballed.

The same thing is happening to podcasts right now.

What people are craving for is truth, effectiveness, and trust.

New sources of news and media are great, but nobody is solving for the same problem that infects all of them - screen time and monetization.

The next platform has to start by seeing these issues from the start and solving for them - not just using a new means of presenting content.

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We're running into the same issue with the tools we're making across the tech industry...

Take for example Slack.

Slack was the proposed 'email killer' that was going to help all workplaces collaborate more effectively and never need to use email.

If you've used Slack before you know it does come in handy for communication - but also makes you available 24/7 and is filled with plenty of forum-esque chat time.

We need to reprogram our brains to learn that more is not always better.

We need to create products that are ok with being used less.

Somehow we've spiraled to 'time on screen' as the best metric for every type of app.

I don't know about you, but 'time on screen' for me usually correlates to higher unhappiness - especially when I realize how ineffective/worthless that time has been spent.

So makers out there - start thinking about how little I could use your app and get the job done. A minimalist approach will reward you in the future.

And hell, I'll even be willing to pay more 💰 to get back my time.

...isn't that what software really does in the first place - help us save time.

Over n out...

PJ Manning