Progressive Place

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Info Podcasting seminar coming soon to Philadelphia

Have you heard of Podcasting? It's how you subscribe to get selected audio content delivered to your PC, where it's passed along to an iPod or other pocket MP3 player, all automatically.

Here's what that means: Imagine the kinds of specialized information that you can now get only in print becoming broadly available in audio, on demand. Listen to whatever you want to hear. Listen anytime, anywhere. Even if you're driving, or folding laundry, or operating machinery. All because it's audio, the only truly mobile medium.

A side note, before we get into this:
A seminar on information uses of Podcasting is being planned for Philadelphia in the next few months.
"Experts," if you can call them that in a 4 month old industry, are being sought. Please post inquiries here.

Now, back to our program:
Like digital audio in general, Podcasting content is now almost all music. That's gonna change, big time. Digital audio's not just for music anymore. The MP3 player's about to grow up and get a job. Soon Podcasting will move real information, and influence real decisions. And because it's audio, it will be more emotionally powerful than print.

Podcast content is following the evolutionary path of web content: going from personal musings of digerati and extremists, to articles from magazine and journals, to commerce. But comparing the two is like watching an accelerated video of a flower blooming in a few seconds.

Podcasting will be revolutionary for the 1/3 of people in the US who can't read well, and real convenient for those who don't have time to, which is the rest of us. Imagine the kinds of specialized things you could only get in print becoming broadly available in audio, on demand. Whatever you want, whenever and wherever you want it. Satellite radio, with its "two hundred channels and I still can't find anything to listen to" can't match that. With fast-download web connections the norm, much of what you read this year, you'll be listening to next year. Or the year after, at most.

The machines are changing a bit slower. Predictably, the user experience of Apple's pricey iPod (source of the "pod" in podcasting) is creamy-smooth. The competing massive-storage MP3 players are about as user-friendly as broken glass. They're competing by casting stones through each others prices. The result will be that iPods will get a bit cheaper, while the others will get vastly better.

Definitions of Podcasting have mostly been written by weenies, so they're all about RSS feeds and "it's like a Tivo for radio." Things that mean nothing to regular folks. It's also why I didn't catch on to this movement for several months, although it's very akin to AudiKnow.

This one from Wikipedia is helpful:

Podcasting involves the recording of internet radio or similar internet audio programs. These recordings are then made available for download to portable digital audio device (sic). You can listen to the podcast internet radio program while you are away from your computer or at a different time than the original program was broadcast. (

The definition was written by pioneer Dave Winer, so it's more technical:
Think how a desktop aggregator works. You subscribe to a set of feeds, and then can easily view the new stuff from all of the feeds together, or each feed separately. Podcasting works the same way, with one exception. Instead of reading the new content on a computer screen, you listen to the new content on an iPod or iPod-like device. Think of your iPod as having a set of subscriptions that are checked regularly for updates.
If you still don't get it, don't worry. It'll be clear enough when it's all around you.