In an attempt to keep up with the latest Internet buzzwords, I’ve been trying to give podcasts another chance. I think the trick lies in listening to them not on the iPod itself, but on my computer, preferably in the morning while I eat breakfast and do my first rounds of the Web. If I’m taking my iPod out with me, I almost certainly want to listen to music, not talking heads, especially when I’ve got it set to “shuffle.” On my computer, though, the voices (and pictures — video podcasts seem to be catching on pretty quickly) coming out of my laptop’s speakers meld pretty seamlessly with the other streams of information that get pumped into my system, along with the coffee and the cereal, as I try to rev myself up into coherence.

Here’s something odd, though: On the iTunes Music Store’s list of the top 100 podcasts, there are no fewer than three separate entries devoted to the TV series Lost (one of them is an “official” podcast produced by ABC). I really like Lost, largely because it’s so clearly designed to generate lots of conversation and speculation. I’m not sure, however, that we need quite this many streams of people treating us to reenactments of scenes from recent episodes, readings of choice message board postings, and byzantine theories about what the heck is going on with the myriad camps and factions on the island.

I suppose fandom isn’t really about restraint or moderation, though; it’s about fans producing secondary material and using it to build a community around a favorite show/film/book/whatever, and at the moment, podcasts are a much hipper way of doing that than fan fiction. For the moment, at least: as soon as someone realizes what a stupid-sounding word “podcast” is, the backlash will likely sink the whole movement into obscurity until it gets revived on “I Love The Aughties.”