Friday, 8 January 2016

Favourite podcasts

I was a podcast fiend over the Christmas holiday.  I typically listen to three or four a week anyway but over the holidays when the weather was so shocking I luxuriated in having the time to work my way through the back catalogues of my favourites, I thought I would share a few of my favourite episodes with you here...

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It's tough to call this a favourite episode because the content at times is hard to swallow but it was such an interesting look at social media and the role it plays in modern American campus life.

Another great episode looking at the most embarrassing emails ever sent and how we wish we could undo, undo, undo!

Were you aware that there is such a thing as a cookie advisor?  You will be after this episode.

This American Life

This episode is a jaw dropper, looking at the American education system and how people are trying to get poor minority kids performing as well as white kids, such thought provoking stuff.

Status update is a great episode, it's looking at social media which is something I find endlessly fascinating and takes us on a journey through the minefield that is commenting and liking things on Instagram to a whole town that gets a status update.

I'm going to have to straight up quote this episodes' synopsis: "When Jonathan Goldstein was a kid, his father gave him a book that promised to teach you how to shoot mental laser beams, win the lottery, move solid objects with you mind, make others obey your command [...] he revisits the book to try to unlock the secrets within."


OK straight up, every episode of Serial season one is a favourite and I'm thoroughly enjoying season two as well... just listen to them all.


This episode is the tale of a dive supervisor in Los Angeles who has been retrieving evidence from lakes and rivers to aide investigations his whole career but summer 2013 is something else entirely...

Episode one of Criminal is stellar and had me hooked on all episodes that followed it looks at the case of a woman found dead in a pool of her own blood.  Her husband was convicted but did he do it... the owls are not what they seem.

Who on earth would have thought there could be a venus flytrap crime ring?  Well there is in this episode!


I'm super new to Nerdette so can only really recommend one episode, but it's a good one, it features Caitlin Moran who is just a joy to listen to.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Are blogs still relevant?

I haven't really been blogging around here lately and I've noticed quite a few of my favourite bloggers haven't been posting much either.  I'm not talking about bloggers that blog for a living but those day-to-day folk like  me who write about the ups and downs of everyday life and I have to ask myself are blogs still relevant?  Perhaps more importantly are blogs still enjoyable to read?

I turned to blogs in 2009 because the magazines I was reading were packed with adverts and advice on cosmetic surgery, which diet was the latest fad you had to try and what make-up trends would make you more attractive.  I felt bored by the content and felt bad about myself when I read them but in contrast when I read blogs written by women (predominately women, blogging is rarely a medium chosen by men but I accept whole heartedly that I have not explored this fully so would welcome examples of readable, interesting, everyday male bloggers if you have any to share with me!) like me who explored the everydayness that was so interesting, real and honest I felt good about what I was seeing.  I felt more connected and glad to know there were examples out there of 'normal' 'ate the extra piece of bread because I wanted to' lives and they were shining examples of how to live happy lives.  

Over the years more and more posts are sponsored, bloggers and vloggers bring out books and get TV deals and all that I loved about blogging seems to have been handed over to the corporations.

Why am I bringing this up now?  Well on Facebook today there was a sponsored advert on my feed from New Look where fitness and lifestyle blogger Tasha Green was promoting their new sportswear range in preparation for the deluge of people joining the gym in January.  The advert just made me feel lacklustre and not keen to look at what products New Look had on offer Tasha had lost her 'normal-ness' that which no doubt made her so popular in the first place.  Zoella is another fine example of vlogger turned international success with book and cosmetics deals being thrown at her left right and centre.  Am I jealous of these blogger and vlogger successes?  Maybe, I know I wouldn't turn down a big fat royalty cheque if it was offered to me but it does feel that blogging, which has been a creative outlet for so many is having the shine hammered out of it, the edges are rusting and the core values/issues/everyday topics of conversation that made them so enjoyable to read are being compromised.

Essena O'Neill an Australian Instagram superstar who had in the region of 612,000 followers quit the social media platform very publicly in October 2015 stating that Instagram [and social media in general I assume] "served no real purpose other than self promotion".  Now it could easily be argued that all blogs are self promotion, we all blog to have our say and to carve out our own little piece of the internet but where do you turn for what used to be the 'real' content? estimates that 3.5 million blog posts are published everyday (statistic taken on 2nd January 2016) so there must be some out there that I'm just not finding or those everyday women are turning to other mediums to express themselves?

In my roundabout way I'm saying that blogs are turning into the magazines that made me (and many others I'm sure) seek alternative publications and writings on everyday life.  Us bloggers (although I don't feel fully qualified to call myself that) all copy one another, we provide tutorials on how to get more readers or which beauty products work best and that feels kinda regressive.  I don't have the answers to the issues I just feel the need to voice my grievances, perhaps in 2016 I will write nonsense about nonsense and see my follower numbers drop but ultimately enjoy myself more?  I hope others do the same as I can't wait to read the outcomes.
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