Proceedings: GI 2018

Quality ‘Alone’ Time through Conversations and Storytelling: Podcast Listening Behaviors and Routines

Yasamin Heshmat (Simon Fraser University), Lillian Yang (Simon Fraser University), Carman Neustaedter (Simon Fraser University)

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2018: Toronto, Ontario, 8-11 May 2018, 76 - 83

DOI 10.20380/GI2018.11

  • BibTex

    author = {Heshmat, Yasamin and Yang, Lillian and Neustaedter, Carman},
    title = {Quality ‘Alone’ Time through Conversations and Storytelling: Podcast Listening Behaviors and Routines},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2018},
    series = {GI 2018},
    year = {2018},
    isbn = {978-0-9947868-3-8},
    location = {Toronto, Ontario},
    pages = {76 -- 83},
    numpages = {8},
    doi = {10.20380/GI2018.11},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society / Soci{\'e}t{\'e} canadienne du dialogue humain-machine},
    keywords = {Podcasts, asynchronous media consumption, reflection, solitude},


Audio podcasts have been widely used for more than a decade where millions of people listen to digital content on mobile devices. Despite a large amount of research on podcasts, there have not been any studies that explore the detailed listening practices of frequent podcast users, in particular, with a focus on understanding how podcasts support alone time. We conducted an interview study to understand and learn from such practices. Our results point to the characteristics of podcast technology that made it suitable for supporting people's ability to be alone yet still feel like they were connected to others. This included being able to multitask while listening to a podcast, escape from times of boredom, and even have experiential moments of self-reflection. These behaviors were supported by the flexibility of podcasts as a storytelling medium, a feeling of intimacy and connection with the podcast host, and podcasts' ability to make people feel like they are part of a conversation even when alone. We explore how these features suggest direction for technologies that can support alone time.