April 29, 2005

What I now think about podcasting - 1/4 of the way in.

I've got my iRiver. I've read any number (lots) of articles and posts on podcasting. I could be up and running with a professional sound (with my new iRiver and what George has in his studio) in a few hours. But I'll probably stick with simple on-the-go recording for now. The iRiver's built-in mic has surprisingly great sound recording capabilities.

I think I understand the genesis and the conflicts around the Podcasting the concept, the term, and the technologies that support the medium--at least from a historical (like six months) perspective.

Now onto what I believe.

It could have been called mp3casting, but that would have sounded weird.

Because Podcasting doesn't require an iPod per-se; any mp3 player will do. Podcasting does NOT require RSS. Subscribing to podcasts does. In other words, ANY mp3 file that in some form mimics broadcast is, to most users who are downloading, a podcast. It's the name they like. It's so, well, "blogging."

If I, for example, have an mp3 file I want to make available--i.e., broadcast, I can do this in several ways. (1) I can have a weblog setup with an RSS 2.0 feed (Blogger makes this easy), make my feed available to bloglines or others, and people who wish to can subscribe to my podblog and get convenient/automatic downloads. You can sleep while technology makes sure you get the latest podcasts loaded onto your MP3 player for morning drivetime.

(2) While RSS makes podcast RECEIVING easy and seamless, it's not the only way to listen to your favorite Pod Personalities. And a burgeoning base of corporate fans are listening to podcasts on their PCs by, well, CLICKING ON THE LINK within the weblog. (3) And for those podcast surfers, who might find one or two podcasts worth downloading, you can usually save the file down and copy it onto your MP3 player via a USB connection.

So what's really new here?

Not much and everything at the same time.

What is new is the perception. The perception of many companies and individuals is that podcasting is the next weblogging. It's the next big thing. It's a must-do.

And so, it is. Thanks to a catchy name, some quirky talented new-era broadcasters who've been living online for a while, Adam Curry, Dave Winer, and the whole technology debating team, as well as the ability of the masses to subscribe to podcasts for easy downloading, podcasting really is the new big thing.

My prediction? It's about channels--it's about getting what you want from the net in the way that's most convenient/relevant for you at the time. If that means clicking a link and listening on your PC at work, then you're listening to a podcast. If it means you download podcasts from 16 blogs you subscribe to every night, then you're downloading podcasts.

In six months, the podcasting "brand" will likely refer to the program format (i.e., anything that resembles a radio broadcast will be called podcasting) NOT how the program is delivered (i.e., currently any mp3 file made available through an RSS 2.0 feed in a weblog can be delivered to subscribers). In six months, an interview on Microsoft's site between Bill Gates and Scoble (it could happen!) will be called a podcast, even if it's simply an mp3 file sitting on a server and linked off Microsoft's homepage for anyone wanting to click the link.

And that's okay. It evokes the same debate we've been having for years in blogland: "What is blogging." Some say its community. Some say its journalism. Some say it's just writing.

So what will podcasting be? Some will say its personal radio. Some will say its broadcast journalism. Some will say it's just mp3 files.

And, just like with blogging, we'll all be right.