Newsletter 622 – Two Growing Trends

Podcasts 3
This week I read two articles that describe growing technologies: one newer, the other well established. The first is the subject of the August 17 Time cover story (US Edition) titled “The Surprising Joy of Virtual Reality: And Why It’s [nearly upon us, better than you think… and] About to Change the World.” Put on those increasingly sophisticated virtual reality goggles and our whole perceptions change. This is not just about making video games more dramatic. It can be about treating the effects of trauma, dealing with various psychiatric disorders, and revolutionizing education. I wonder about its potential for changing how we lead, learn about God, or advertise. And are there dangers that we don’t yet see? Apparently we’ll encounter lots more about this come Christmas shopping season.

Much more familiar are podcasts, recently discussed in a Wall Street Journal article (August 8-9.) We’ve all seen podcasts and webinars, some very sophisticated, which move us beyond radio, television or weekly written blogs like this one. Friends have urged me to replace or supplement this Podcast 2newsletter with audio and/or video posts, especially since these tend to be favored by so many people who like to listen or watch rather than to read.

  • A good communicator knows the characteristics of his or her audience. Surely this includes knowing how the audience learns or prefers to get information. Most readers of this newsletter are older, educated, and presumably inclined to learn by reading. Like me. Would a different audience be attracted by a podcast or other non-written, video or audio format? What about using both formats?
  • Experienced bloggers have demonstrated the value of captivating titles, eye-catching images, and succinct introductory sentences. These are more likely to attract and hold readers to the end. Similarly, aren’t most of us grabbed and retained by articulate speakers in attractive settings telling interesting stories with practical implications? Boring podcasts may give us something to hear or watch but they make no more impact than boring blog posts.
  • Podcasts can be produced relatively easily. All you need is a computer with a camera. I have done these with my classes, replacing long lectures with video clips to be watched at leisure.
  • Podcasts and webinars can be produced from anywhere and allow feedback so observers are more involved with the action. Should you be doing this? Should I?

Please comment. Tell us how you have used podcasts, webinars or virtual reality.


  1. Like you Gary, I learn best by reading in quiet times without distraction. I tend to listen to podcasts playing in the ‘background’ while I am doing other things. In the age of multi-tasking I think we must slow down sometimes and give just ONE activity our full attention. Like finding a quiet time for God, and God alone.


  2. I love your newsletter and I found so many useful and great reading materials to improve self in my present ministry.

    May I humbly request that you delete this email account and send all my future newsletter of people Builder’s Blog to

    Thank you very very much!!! keep on inspiring us. God bless



  3. A year ago, a friend gave me a commercial video editor with which I produced some interviews that get about ten views a month.
    Recently I started posting short biblical studies on YouTube(R) that get about one a day.
    These I have translated into French which are getting 1000 views a day from a variety of secular and religious backgrounds!
    There seems to be both a dearth and a hunger in some quarters outside of Anglo America.


  4. Keep it written please! I love it and find it more accessible and less demanding than other forms of presentation. (and yes, I’m over 50!)


  5. If my teenage sons (one at university) are anything to go by I suspect the podcast/video approach is a millenial/generation x thing. I guess this challenges us to think about the audiences we want to engage and tailor our approach accordingly as well as flexibly if we’re to reach out beyond our own preferences and styles.Exciting – if a little challenging!


  6. I find it much easier to reference the written word than audio or visual material so my first preference is the written followed by the visual then audio


  7. I enjoy doing podcast interviews with authors/leaders. It takes work, but I like the balancing of the interviewee reciting his/her standard text (ideas) with the greater willingness to give personal or behind-the-scenes info not usually revealed in their books/articles.



    Thanks once again everybody.
    This is good stuff. Random comments:

    1. We all have our preferred ways to learn. Looks like we mostly prefer a written blog. Me to – that is why I write but have not added a podcast.
    2. Several of you have agreed that different individuals and different groups/generations each has a preferred way to learn. I tend to ignore my Facebook account but that reflects my general disinterest in some social media (probably to my disadvantage). I like email and text messages better. Some of my younger friends never use email. And did anyone see the news report this week that increasing numbers of teenagers shun phones because they are disruptive and impersonal.
    Maybe Carol was thinking of something like that when she described her son.
    3. Tangential comment: where I live there are kids who periodically ride their skateboards down the street while they do texting. This happened yesterday when I was talking to my thirty-something book agent. I told him I might learn to do this if he would join me. He agreed. Not much risk for him (or me) with that!
    3. Good example of the people differences is Galen’s observation that what did not work well in the UK was popular with French readers, reading a translation. (Of course my friends in Britain and France could have lots of jokes about what connects with the French and the British and why.)
    4. For those who are wondering, I have no plans to drop the written blog or supplement/replace it with a podcast. But this might change if I take action to broaden the audience. Of course different audiences are reached in different ways.
    5. Phil is right. Whatever we add takes work – more than we anticipate. I say something about this in my blog this week.


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