I’d like to recommend Prof. Rodney Stark's latest podcast. Alas, I cannot.

Not because of the ideas. The lecture continues his series on religion (blogged earlier) by looking at the rise of different religious groups in Rome, effectively making the case that the dead hand of state-subsidized religion permitted, and could not prevent, the widespread adoption of Bacchus, Isis, Yaweh and, ultimately, ole JC himself. But I could be wrong on that, because the quality of the recording on the podcast (to which, in protest, I refuse to link) is so abysmal.

Seems to me that the world of podcasting is roughly in the same place that publishing was at shortly after the arrival of the Mac and Pagemaker. Suddenly, everyone’s a graphic designer and a layout artist. How I longed for an error message that would say “I cannot print this document because it uses too many fonts and is therefore hideously ugly and unreadable to boot”. We’re still there, of course, but not nearly so badly.

Likewise podcasting. To people accustomed to broadcasting sound (like the BBC and NPR) it is an ideal way to broadcast more widely, just as DTP software made the lives of existing designers and layout people easier. To the rest, it is a golden opportunity to inflict appalling sound quality on an unsuspecting world.

So, if you want to hear more than an hour of off-mike lecturer in an echoing room, go ahead and seek it out. But if I were you, I’d wait for the book.

This has been a public service announcement.

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