An audible university? The emerging role of podcasts, audiobooks and text to speech technology in research should be taken seriously

A significant impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on academic life has been the way in which it has necessitated almost all traditional features of academic work to be mediated via screens. What is less frequently remarked on is how this ‘pivot to digital’ may also be shaping research via other media, specifically the rise of audible research content, such as podcasts. In this post, Mark Carrigan reflects on how research listening has shaped his own practice and how an implicit assumption of its secondary relationship to reading may limit our appreciation of engaging with research in a multimodal fashion.


A frequent conversation during the pandemic has been the impact of screen fatigue on working life. Academics were already reliant on screens, but the online pivot in teaching and academic communication meant that even the periods of the working day, which were formerly respites from a monitor, were now mediated by screens. Personally, I found it particularly challenging, as someone who lives apart from my partner, with evening video calls proving much more difficult to relax into and enjoy, once Zoom became the overriding feature of my typical working day. The reliance on screens has come to feel wearying for many, with the pandemic drawing attention to the extent of our reliance on these interfaces.

While hybrid working was always a feature of academic life to some degree, the disruptions of the pandemic suggest a return to pre-pandemic patterns of behaviour seems unlikely, for either meetings or conferences. In both cases it will be difficult to return to the previous default of face-to-face and hybrid interactions are already becoming a routine part of academic work. This might not mean you’re spending as much time meeting through screens as you did in 2020, but increased screen time will be a continued feature of academic work as we begin to transition into a post-pandemic university.

This blog post was originally published on LSE Impact blogRead more from the Source here

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