Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Pod People

In preparation for my podcasting panel at the Popular Culture Association annual convention in Boston this week, I've been looking at how official digital rhetoric on government websites may be attempting to appropriate this youth-oriented electronic genre for what is implicitly a new channel of political discourse. (To get a sense of the market, which includes the White House Office of Drug Policy, the Census Bureau, and the Rewards for Justice anti-terrorism program, you can see a range of government podcasts here.)

The top-rated government-sponsored podcast appears to be the NASA Feature Stories Podcast, despite its stripped-down production style and relatively lackluster single viewpoint narration by NASA's Dr. Tony Phillips. Not only does this podcast not use music, but it also doesn't even feature sound clips of the actual scientists who are quoted in the news items. Of course, I like the fact that the NASA podcast uses bad puns rather than strictly descriptive titles: among their gems in its headers are phrases like "Grand Theft Pluto" and "Look Ma! No (Human) Hands!"

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