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How I learn (quickly & easily) about technology

By May 20, 2009web-tech

Yesterday I spoke at a group of legal administrators who are in town for their annual convention. The "talk" was really a small group brainstorming session about legal technology in general. One of the questions that kept coming up was a variant of something like this: how can I keep up with the latest technology trends?

Actually, the question was: what are the latest technology trends? But whenever I was asked that question I framed it without focusing on me. It's kind of pointless for me to say with the latest technology trends are. First, I'm not the best person to make technology forecasts. Second, whatever the forecast is today it will probably be radically different in a very short period of time.

The way I figure out what's going on is this: I listen regularly to the podcasts put out by Leo Laporte. I asked the group yesterday if any of them had heard of Leo Laporte and no one had. Interestingly, many people whom I considered to be fairly knowledgeable about technology have also not heard of him. 

I find this rather strange.

Almost everything I've learned about technology has come from listening to Leo Laporte (or, previously, watching him on TechTV — which unfortunately was canceled a few years ago). Most of the important decisions I have made about technology have also been based on observations made by Leo Laporte or the panelists on his podcasts. For example, my decision to switch to a Mac computer several years ago was largely shaped by information I gathered from Laporte.

What I like most about Laporte is that he's not partisan to one operating system or another. He uses Windows computers, Macs, and Linux machines. He has extensive knowledge of both hardware and software in all these operating systems. More importantly, for the average user, he's easy to understand.

The reason is that he's been a radio DJ for over 20 years (strictly covering technology).  He has worked in television briefly (when he worked for Tech TV). Bottom line: he knows how to explain things that are complicated, and he makes it easy to understand—even if you don't know much about technology.

If you're a Mac user you should listen to a couple of these podcasts, and subscribe to them so that you receive them every week. If you're a Mac or PC user you should subscribe to The Tech Guy podcast, which is based on a radio call-in show that he does once a week in San Francisco (actually he lives near SF, but you get the point: it originates from the tech-capital of the U.S.)

I can't emphasize enough how useful these podcasts are. If you are a legal administrator for a law firm then, by definition, you have to understand the fundamental aspects of technology. But, really, everyone needs to keep up with technology these days. The most useful way of keeping up is Leo Laporte.

Laporte doesn't always know the answers, and when he doesn't he says so (and avoids useless speculation).  However, when he and his panelists agree that something is important or inevitable then you can pretty much bank on it.  Finding consensus (i.e. unbiased and informed assessments) about important technology trends is hard.  

But not if you regularly listen to Leo Laporte. 

P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

3 Comments

  • virgil xenophon says:

    Agree about Leo. I’m a little ahead of you with Leo. I was watching him when Tech TV was it’s earlier incarnation, ZDTV (for Ziff Davis, the magazine company.) Leo is my go to guy also for all the reasons you mention. And, like you also, I am simply amazed at the number of otherwise tech savvy people in the business world who have never heard of him. I think this is because his main audience is really pure tech geeks, gamers, etc., who eat sleep the stuff 24/7. Kim Komando (.com) on the radio is also a good source of info. As well as was the late departed TV/computer repair guy out in Jeff who had his own radio show sat mornings at 10:00 on WIST, Jerry-whose last name escapes me now–who died after a long battle with cancer in Dec, 2007. That guy gave really good advise and, like Leo, was pretty much impartial.

  • Kelly says:

    Thanks for the post. Interestingly, I’ve haven’t heard anyone mention Leo Laporte (and Friends) in quite a while. Thanks for the reminder. I look forward to listening to his recent podcasts. It’s great that he also posts the transcripts 24 hours after show release.

  • Landya says:

    Agree completely. For me, listening to Leo Laporte discuss tech news is a lot like it was listening to Tim Russert on political news.

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