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November 1, 2004 10:22 PM   Subscribe

"Podcasting" - Another newer diversion, audio feeds from RSS.
posted by four panels (8 comments total)
Young people order only what they want, and get it free.
posted by four panels at 10:26 PM on November 1, 2004

I've been wondering why "podcasting" (which actually works better with something other than an iPod, BTW) was such a big deal -- it's just a way of using buzzwords technology to shift content to your player, rather than doing it by yourself. If I did this, I'd never have time to listen to it: My commute is 15 minutes (and will be radically shorter when I start working from home), and unlike those gifted members of younger generations who [imagine that they] can work just as well while paying attention to a narrative audio stream, I actually find my work-quality is better when I pay attention to what I'm actually doing. So music is fine, and I'll even listen to news, but listening to anything bloggish that I would actually bother to have read in the first place -- and hence, might want to download -- would be right out. It would be a waste of time and effort.

four_panels' formulation of his link to the ABC site gives me the clue: Podcasting isn't really about podcasting, it's about automated distribution. Or, more precisely, it's not about time-shifting, at least not per se -- it's about how you get that time-shifted content from its source and onto your player. By automating (almost) everything, it reduces the cost, so you can download stuff even though you'll never really listen to it (or as likely never even play it). Instead of random background noise from the radio, you listen to a more filtered stack of background noise.

It's another one of those things that gets labeled as a passing fad because it's a fantastic waste of time for what it's supposed to be about -- then ends up hanging on because it's really good at addressing some other "need". Here, what it will do is provide a way for vendors of mutlimedia (certainly music at first, but soon enough audiobooks and canned audio newsfeeds) to pump content (which you've paid for on a subscription basis) into your media player -- into your time-shifting system.

Podcasting, in other words, is just the proof of concept and the root-paradigmatic, DIY version of a distribution modality something that I'm thinking will be quite normal and blase in a couple of years. But it won't have anything to do with audioblogging any more.

Aside: Why are people so attracted to the idea that they shouldn't have to encounter random things? Podcasting, the old idea of the "personal newspaper", even just listening to a personal stereo all the time -- these are manifestations of the desire to control all your inputs. When you do that, you're liable to end up ultimately being less creative, because you have fewer random inputs -- fewer memetic mutations, if you will....
posted by lodurr at 4:19 AM on November 2, 2004

*casting, blogs, ipod, RSS, zazz, kapowza, etc


Reading lonely nerds writing about their problems is bad enough, but now we can LISTEN to them whine?
posted by cmicali at 7:34 AM on November 2, 2004

Podcasting is DOA. An artificial trend pushed by people seeking net prestige. You can tell by the self-aggrandizing tone of the podcasts and the podcasters. The way they have to attach their names to everything. You can tell by the way there was wrangling in the first weeks over who had coined what words.

The quality of everything being offered as a podcast is awful. Bad material, bad voices, bad quality. I can and do load hours of radio onto my iPod every morning: news, documentaries, music. It's good, too, because I have thousands of Internet radio streams to choose from. Pudcasters [intentional mis-stroke: I coined it! Me! Me! Right here! Credit me!] can't compete with the professional audio currently available on the Internet.

Audio is one place that just having something to say is not enough. It better be tight, clean, and crystal. Or very, very original. We don't need more pontificating on arcane subjects. Get me on the street reports from Iraq. Get me an interview with a veterinarian specializing in Costa Rican howler monkeys. Give me sounds of ice cracking in the Arctic. Get me something new and novel that doesn't have you at its center. Then start crowing about your new thing. Until then, shut yer pud hole.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:56 AM on November 2, 2004 [1 favorite]

PS: The only way this will fly, for me, is if what has already happened to TV and movies happens to audio. That is, being able to go to sites (or connect to torrent swarms) where people have recorded audio, saved each program into discrete files, then made them available for sharing or downloading in MP3 player-compatible formats. This would mean thousands of people would not have to record the same program, and would route around ignorant broadcasters who don't offer archives of their programming, or only offer it in streaming formats, or only offer it for a limited time, or only offer it in DRMed formats.

Of course, this is already happening to a certain degree, especially on Usenet, and has been happening for years. But it hasn't expanded much beyond specialty programming such as old-time radio shows or "The Goon Show." My mark of this reaching maturation will be when the BBC World Service's cool little specialty segment, "From Our Own Correspondent," shows up on a weekly basis in the appropriate newsgroups or torrent sites. Long tail people, long tail.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:06 AM on November 2, 2004

I agree with ya Mo, sort of - but I haven't branded it DOA just yet. I have pretty much unsubscribed to most every "show" that I've tried. But ultimately I don't think these home brew audioblogish shows where some random guy talks aimless into their laptop for an hour a day or maybe play some music or some voicemail are what matter here.

The folks pushing this need to first shore up the "platform" as they like to think of it. They need to make it so that it is easy for organizations already distributing quality audio online to leverage the feeds. Get bittorrent actually working instead of just something mentioned as a "wouldn't it be cool" feature (giving a reason for existing distributors to care by cutting down bandwidth costs). They need to drop the silly informationless directory and find a better way for people to describe and publicize their show (I need to know the real topic of the show, who puts on the show, how long it is, how often the show is put out, etc. etc. before I subscribe). And lastly they need to come up with some way to enforce good tagging of files that might ultimately end up in winamp, itunes or on my mp3 player - as of now its completely up to the distributor and having a track on my mp3 player with *NOTHING* but a track name of "20041102" just doesn't fly.

If they can nail those things before people have completely written them off they might actually have something.
posted by 10sball at 8:48 AM on November 2, 2004

Mo_Nickels: I don't disagree with you (though you know more about the quality of podcasts than I think I want to); I'm just saying that I think podcasting will probably provide a model for automatically moving content like the stuff that you push to your device. With you, I don't see how it's survivable as just an extension to the already unworthy life of audioblogging.

As I said to a friend recently (or was it here?), audioblogging is (as you'd say) DOA. I can envision audio-friendly markup being added to blogs so they can be read by speech readers; then, capitalizing on the increasing horsepower of portable media players, they can be "rendered" into audio by automated readers. It will be a long time before it sounds like Linda Hunt or Brittany Murphy, but I can envision people starting to write to target the idiosyncracies of text readers -- much as people changed how they write to accommodate the peculiarities of email and online forums.

It's all organic. Trying to actively drive trends is so 1994. The fun part of all this is seeing whether it goes even remotely close to where you think it will.
posted by lodurr at 8:53 AM on November 2, 2004

Weblogging is DOA. An artificial trend pushed by people seeking net prestige. You can tell by the self-aggrandizing tone of the weblogs and the webloggers. The way they have to attach their names to everything.

Repeat ad nauseam.
posted by Jongo at 5:54 PM on November 2, 2004

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