I've been quite preoccupied with an audiobook this month - Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - which I will finish by the end of this week. I found it through the Still Untitled Podcast with Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame. Overall, I am really enjoying the book, though I have some qualms with the first narrator and some of her accents and voices. There are also stretches of the book where it is just way too drawn out in unnecessary detail. But the story itself is very interesting and thought provoking. Depending on how it ends, I may consider picking up another one of Neal Stephenson's books called Snow Crash, which was recommended by CGP Grey on the most recent Hello Internet podcast's Audible ad. Anyway, here are my recommendations for podcast episodes this month:
Happy new year! Here are some of my favorite episodes through the end of 2015. Given my love for podcasts, my new year's resolution for 2016 is to start my own podcast. In 2016, I hope to see more innovation in podcast apps. I currently use Overcast, which I LOVE, but there's still many features I'd like to see in the future such as interactive/improved show notes and better podcast discovery.
Lifeline and The Martian Official Game are both available on iOS and Android and are text-based games. It's the type of narrative where you end up down different decision tree paths depending on your responses. At least, that's the theory. These two games, while seemingly very similar, are vastly divergent in quality.
Lifeline gives you the sense that your decisions actually affect the outcome of the story. The plot is unique, engaging, and the gameplay through notifications via your iPhone or Apple Watch is quite interesting. After the game is over, you can play it in fast mode which accelerates the response time, which is a thoughtful feature. Not only did I not even get close to the end of The Martian Official Game, but the experience was the polar opposite. Maybe it was because I read the book and watched the movie already, but even the answer options and canned responses seemed extremely linear and boring. Both games are $0.99 but it's clear Lifeline is a better game. Just look at the 9,000+ ratings on iTunes or 47,000+ ratings in Google Play.
Don't let this review of the "official" game to mislead you to think I am not a fan of the book. If you want to enjoy The Martian, I highly recommend the audiobook. It's one of my favorite books this year and a great way to get into the world of audiobooks.
See my prior post about it HERE.
This is NOT a paid endorsement.
This is NOT a paid endorsement.
The Message is a fictional podcast created by Panoply and sponsored by GE. This is the first type of paid and branded content that I have come across in the podcast world where the content itself is paid for, so there are no interruptive ads during the podcast itself. This is very interesting to think about, especially in light of the most recent episode of Startup Podcast where they struggle with the notion of branded and paid content. Check out that episode here: Startup #17: Words About Words From Our Sponsors.
The primary issue comes down to editorial control. When the content is paid for, the sponsor has at least some, if not final, editorial say. It is easy to see how this can become a huge issue for some, but I was very happy to see how great The Message turned out despite it being paid for by GE. I was happy that there were no blatant GE mentions in the story. Also, because it was already paid for, there are no ads during the entire series.
The Message has a strong narrative style, not too dissimilar to the breakout podcast hit Serial. Other people seem to have picked up on this too: check out this article at The Atlantic.
I really enjoyed it and recommend it.
I crushed the entire 8 episode series in two sessions, one in the car and one right before going to bed. It's super short - each episode is around 15 minutes or less. For some reason, the main narrator reminds me of Ellen Page... Anyway, the voice acting for all the characters are quite good. I listen to a ton of audiobooks, and I can say that it's not always easy to have multiple voice performers and have it come out well.
This podcast has certainly opened me up to the idea of paid content, as well as fictional podcasts. This was a first for me on both counts. In the end, quality always wins. And this was a quality listen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
These past few months, I've been consumed with trying to catch up with my new favorite podcast, Hello Internet with @CGPGrey and @BradyHaran. I actually found it through another CGP Grey podcast called Cortex, which is a bit odd since it seems everyone else knows these two guys through their YouTube videos. My other top favorite podcasts are all in between seasons right now so it was a great chance for me to slam 50+ episodes of HI back to back to back. Can't wait for the next season of Serial, Invisbilia, The Mystery Show, and Startup.
Here are some of my favorite food documentaries. All currently available on Netflix. The first, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, is probably one that everyone has seen or at least heard of. Can't go wrong with that one. The rest, you may not have heard of, but are really worth a watch.
Also check out my prior post on other documentaries that I recommend.
I only recommend Season 1.
A few of my favorite podcast episodes for July. Sadly, there were no new episodes for my new favorite podcast, Gimlet Media's Mystery Show. Also waiting for NPR's Invisibilia to start back up sometime soon. In the meantime, please keep sending me any podcast recommendations!
Check out my prior recommendations HERE.
Curious on how to get started on Podcasts and Audiobooks? Click HERE.
When Casey Neistat makes something, anything, I always check it out. Casey makes movies, TV shows, daily vlogs, snaps and he has just launched a new video sharing app called Beme. Casey is authentic, creative, and a great storyteller. But don't let the DIY style of his videos fool you. He has an incredible work ethic and spends a ton of time and effort making these videos look and feel the way they do. He's probably the best known for his YouTube videos. Here are a few of his most popular ones:
What makes him stand out even more is the fact that Casey doesn't always use fancy or professional equipment. Many of his videos are shot on a simple point & shoot camera and edited with iMovie. Those fancy timelapses in his vlogs? A lot are shot with his iPhone. This is something that I think people most frequently get wrong about creating content. 99% of the time, it doesn't matter how good or what the tools are - tools are just tools, nothing more - what really matters is the story and how well you do it.
I think about this a lot when I'm sitting in startup pitch meetings, especially the terrible ones. To me, its the same as what Casey says about his movies when people ask him what camera he uses or what software he edits with. It doesn't matter what the tools are. What matters is the story. If after 30 minutes I still have no idea what your startup does or why it will succeed, no amount of clever videos or McKinsey-style powerpoint slides will help.
One of my favorite videos about Casey is this tour of his office. It is a physical representation of how dedicated he is to his work. At a glance it looks kind of crazy, but if you pay close attention, you'll see that everything has been placed strategically to yield the maximum function and greatest amount of productivity.
If you share my love of interesting desks and offices, check out r/battlestations.
Casey co-founded Beme with Matt Hackett, the former VP of Engineering and Head of Brand Strategy at Tumblr. Beme just launched this week.
Beme addresses one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to mobile video: When people try to record something and end up watching it through their phone instead of being in the moment. Firework, concerts, school plays... all they're really doing is watching life moments through a 4-6" screen as they record it and not enjoying it with their own eyes. Don't even get me started on people using iPads to record video while they hold it in the air, blocking everyone's view.
How does Beme work? I'll let the man show you himself:
So will it succeed? Are we ready for yet another communication platform? Will people embrace or reject the fact that you cannot preview the videos before they are posted? I have no idea. Only time will tell. Message me if you need an unlock code and add me at username: bonam.
I've used Beme for 2 days and here are some of my early observations:
I'm a huge fan of Casey and his work. And he's inspiring many others too. As of today, his YouTube channel has 190M views. Just to put that into perspective, less than 120M people watched the last Superbowl (not exactly apples to apples, but a comparison of size and scale). Ask any of Casey's followers to describe him and you'll undoubtedly hear these words - authentic, creative, and hard working. So do yourself a favor and go subscribe to Casey Neistat.
ps. this is not a paid endorsement.
I love documentaries. Sometimes real stories are more unbelievable than fiction. Here are my top 5 favorite documentary recommendations for this month that are available on Netflix right now.