When I first became aware of iMinds audio book program I was excited. iMinds promotes itself as offering 8-minute audio books that deliver bursts of general knowledge. They were designed to offer well-rounded subject review of a general knowledge topic. The books are read by voice-over artists mixed with music and sound effects.

At first blush, iMinds offered an opportunity to “read” books which were to deliver short bursts of general knowledge. It reminded me of “Cliff Notes” which I will not admit to using. Then I thought of the wonderful Bathroom Reader books that give quick short bursts of information and stories.

If it were not for audio books, I probably would never read the volume of material that I have been exposed to. As a dedicated audio book enthusiast with over 200 books consumed over several years, I was excited by the opportunity to learn more about eclectic material quickly. When listening to the unabridged version of a book, it often requires more than 8 hours (frequently 12 hours) of time. For me, listening/reading a book is most efficiently accomplished while driving. Here was a chance to learn at other times.

After listening to several MindTracks programs, ambivalence is the first word that comes to my mind. On the one hand- the opportunity to learn in depth about general topics is like grazing the newspaper for unexpected articles on new topics. However, the number of available topics from iMinds is limited and not always thought provoking. This makes the issue of “replay” value a consideration. How many times can one listen to the same lecture if it is for pleasure and not for exam preparation? It is not like purchasing an iTunes $0.99 song that one listens to over and over again.

MindTracks can be purchased via iTunes Store and via Audible.com. Pricing is USD $0.99 each, or 6 tracks for $3.99, 12 tracks for $5.99, 36 tracks for $14.99 or 72 tracks for $24.99. I had access to a portable USB MP3 device provided by IMinds (for revue purposes) with several of the selections pre-loaded for review. The MP3 player was difficult to negotiate in order to find a desired selection.

The quality of the recording is good, however, I was surprised by how distracted I became by the background music. This is especially true if one is listening for facts and information rather than for entertainment. In addition, the content is not always compelling. Sometimes, dull things are still dull no matter how they are presented. The variety of topic categories seems provocative, but the subtopics are limited in diversity and interest.

While iMinds seems to be an idea whose time has come, I fear that with all the available free content on the web and on podcasts, its time may have also past.

Bottom line – Good concept – content and execution need improvement


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