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Perfectly Logical Podcasts

By Barry Jagoda I January 17, 2006

Don't be so sure anymore that a "podcast" user is merely taking in the latest hit tune or yesterday's show of Howard Stern railing about something or other. For in last week's list of 32 "notable" podcasts featured on the web site of the Apple iTunes Music Store you can find not only hot soap operas and popular music but also the 15 lectures that comprise UCSD's Philosophy 10 course, "Introduction to Logic."

Taught by Associate Professor of Philosophy Rick Grush and offered in the fall, winter and spring, Phil 10 draws up to 300 students each quarter. Explaining why he went to the trouble of taping his voice-over a computer presentation of course problems, Grush said, "if students miss a lecture or want to go through it again they can get access. You can't pause a real lecture or listen again if you want more review. On the other hand you can't ask questions."

Most podcasts, shorthand for "play on demand," are audio recordings but more and more video offerings are available. Users may listen or view on a special player or on a personal computer after downloading online. In recent months vendors have made it possible for people to record their own content, which are the circumstances that led to Grush's initiative.

"I don't know how many millions of podcasts there are but the number is huge and some people at Apple probably have gone through and looked for programs that might be different or would add diversity to their offerings. I imagine they thought it would be interesting because it was a university lecture course and on the topic of logic," Grush said.

Other notable selections from last week, in addition to music, Howard Stern and Philosophy 10, were selections from National Public Radio, Governor Arnold Schwarznegger and broadcasts from the National Aeronautical and Space Administration.

This was all fine with Rick Grush, happy to get attention for his class and for the subject he teaches. His own research is in the areas of philosophy of mind and of cognitive science, academic disciplines probably easier to sort out than the decision-making process in the new world of podcasting.

For more on this topic, see Professor Grush's web site - - and click on "podcasts" on the left, scroll down to the Phil 10 entry.

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