Search Engine is a show about the cultural and politics of the web (they need a copyable blurb on their home page and in iTunes). The most recent episode featured stories on the hacker convention Defcon, gaming the CIA’s website and a rapping Hungarian YouTube star.
Here’s the spiel on Spark:
Spark is a weekly audio blog of smart and unexpected trendwatching. It’s not just technology for gearheads, it’s about the way technology affects our lives, and the world around us.
What’s a Spark story? Wikis in the workplace, Guitar Hero in your living room, or why the new trend in design is the trailer park.
So they cover similar territory, but Spark is less concerned with the Web than Search Engine. Spark has a stickier tag line, because I can remember it: “Tech trends and fresh ideas”.
It’s been educational to watch both shows’ evolution over the past year or so. My impressions:
- They’ve taken somewhat different approaches in story development and presentation. Spark seems much more crowd-sourced, while Search Engine has a more traditional structure. I don’t know how successful it’s been (I’d be curious to hear about their objectives and measures of success) Spark has a wiki for developing show ideas. Additionally, host Nora Young regularly cites comments from the show’s blog. They’re usually insightful enough to merit inclusion (I tend to loathe traditional man-on-the-street commentary).
- Both hosts seem very well-informed, and (while I’m layman in this) are excellent presenters. Search Engine host Jesse Brown has a more informal style–he seems to be palling around with a lot of his guests. This mostly works, and reflects the DIY culture he documents. I do get a bit tired of the geeky indignation Brown seems to have for a lot of his tech stories. I get that every day in the blogosphere (including this site) and at tech conferences, so I don’t want to hear it from the CBC. Because of this, Search Engine sometimes feels more like commentary than reportage.
- I like both shows, but given the choice, I listen to Spark first. Why? Because the topics are fresher (see the tagline) to me. 80% of Spark stories are new to me. I’ve already heard about 80% of Search Engine’s stories. That’s not a criticism of Search Engine–it’s a reflection of the kind of information I consume.
Clearly the CBC made emerging technology and the web a priority last year, and I applaud the results. Keep up the good work.
This is barely related, but I note that these CBC sites have a wacky URL structure. For example, the about page for Spark is http://www.cbc.ca/spark/index.html?copy-about. Maybe it’s a symptom of an older CMS?