Progressive Place

Monday, October 03, 2005

Podcasting Will Demolish the Digital Divide

How Can Podcasting Demolish the Digital Divide?
By David Calloway © 2005 (DRAFT, needs work)

Merging the cell phone with podcasting will Demolish the Digital
Divide. HOW?

The digital divide is a chasm that has kept poor people, regions, and
countries off the Internet, and out of the 21st Century. That's
because the keys to access, a computer and an internet connection,
are expensive.
Cell phones, by contrast, appear not to recognize the digital divide.
Cell phones are reaching more, poorer people every day. But it's still
seen as just a phone, plus whatever toys and novelties the
manufacturer can squeeze into it.

Several forces will converge to turn digital cellular into an
information channel for the digitally disenfranchised, with
revolutionary consequences.

What is Podcasting?
All around these days you see young people wearing headphones.
They're listening to music, talks, discussions, books, and all kinds
of things on digital audio players such as iPods. Podcasting is
increasingly how they get that content. (For a real explanation of
podcasting, visit, and type in "podcasting.")

Content providers put radio-like audio shows on the Internet.
Listeners copy those shows into their computers, and from there
into their iPods and other little tiny digital audio players. The
listeners then take the players with them and listen to things they'd
maybe read if they had time and could read easily, or otherwise miss
entirely. To hear a sample, visit and click on
"Imagine this scene..."

How can Podcasting demolish the digital divide?
Right now, you have to have an internet-connected computer to
download digital audio. The key foundation of the digital divide is
the relative expense of computers and internet access. Cell phones,
on the other hand, are already bringing down the digital divide in
personal communication. A majority of poor people in the US have
pre-paid cell phones, along with more and more in the rest of the

Notice that most poor people in the US, even many homeless
people, have cell phones. But few have fast computers and internet
connections. No downloads, thus no iPods. And the poor are
mostly on pre-paid plans, with no free or dirt-cheap off-peak,
evening and weekend minutes. No cheap minutes, no downloads.

In the mobile digital audio future, billions will listen through
iPod-like cell phones, with programs downloading at night, by
subscription, directly into huge digital memories.
When competition in the pre-paid market brings free off-peak
minutes to these customers, downloading large files will be feasible.
Audio will be the preferred medium for cellular web files. The
phone's display, useless as it is for extended reading, is ideal for
displaying the kinds of brief, hierarchical menus in the
pre-Windows (DOS) programs of old.

Removing the PC intermediary (write more on this.)

Why should the rest of us care?
Here's an example how Podcasting can revolutionize marketing and
A regional medical center sends me a promotional magazine 4 times
a year. It's so entertaining and informative, that I toss it unopened
into the recycle bin as soon as it arrives. I know I'll end up reading it
cover to cover, and I just don't have the time to do that. It pains me
to know that I just threw away a few dollars of precious outreach
and education funds of an already strained healthcare industry. I try
not to contemplate how many billion times that scenario is repeated
across the system.

Now, to change tracks: I'm one of the 50 million and growing who
regularly download digital audio programs, If I were to get that same
healthcare update by podcast, as an entertaining radio-style feature
program, I'd probably enjoy listening to it, while I'm on my way
somewhere. It's like a radio show that an advocate, educator, or
marketer can actually get onto. Where you decide what gets said,
and I as the listener decide when, and whether, I'll listen.

Where's the Content?
Who will record all the information that will empower
dis-empowered people? A network of volunteer readers will audify
it. Many people will already be using the AudiKnow Audio
Business Modeler to audify the journals and promotions of
organizations, associations, and professional societies they belong
to and care about. It's a natural step to begin, as volunteers,
to...(write more, tie in to 3D.)

AudiKnow Audio Business Modeler
will provide the framework: portal, interface, specifications, and
content partnerships, all molded into a replicable set of Best
Practices. The AudiKnow Foundation will coordinate the partner
network and evolving Open Source specifications, and create the
templates to integrate ongoing learning and practice design of both
systems and participants.

Commercial Business Case.
(TO DO: FIND an eComm Finance visionary to track & paper-charge recipients, laying groundwork & detailed requirements for an actual revenue system. )
Symbolic message to user: "Thanks for your interest, and for using
AudiKnow to download your subscription. When AudiKnow goes
big time, you will be charged 18 cents for this service, Want to
avoid those charges when that happens? Take our survey to see
which AMOs (Affinity Marketing Organizations) most want to get
their messages in front of you."

Affinity Growth.
Readers, volunteers from all kinds of pursuits, will become
advocates for AudiKnow conversion within their particular Center
of Practice. Their journals will go for it because AudiKnow is,
essentially, a free additional value channel and revenue resource,
that gets them out to a wider audience, without diminishing their
subscriber base. Kind of like their decision whether to launch a
website several years ago. At first, it's a no-brainer all around:
Members take the audio version because it's given to them, sources
produce it because it's easy and cheap. As the bar is raised, the
benefit and profit potential go up with it.

Audiation spreads by contagion.
Specialists share content with generalist friends, and soon general
purpose-- well, the basic blog-style story, but with full tracking of
content movement, value derived, and incremental revenue
collected, symbolically for now; see below. In the Revenue Phase,
it'll be in real revenue dollars.

Entities want to reach those who download their audio content.
They'll be willing to pay well for a guaranteed affinity audience.

I. Opportunity
1. Mobile digital audio merges best of audio and print
i. Mobility
ii. Convenience
iii. Navigability random, not linear
2. Podcasting as vehicle for mass adoption
i. Initial content appeal trumps poor interface
ii. Revenue issues resolving
iii. Awkward process fast improving
3. Cell phones = ubiquity

II. Gaps & problems in opportunity
1. What is it? Old models won't extend, status quo won't work
2. Intimacy of the Ear: quality, targeting will rule
3. Current presentation doesn't fit the medium

III. Filling the gaps, solving the problems
1. True, "no peeking" mobility
2. Merging radio, print, and web: keep the best, lose the worst
3. Information infrastructure: get what & who you want, when you
4. Education-Entertainment balance

IV. Longer-term Payoff
1. Faster payback thru greater adoption & penetration
2. Create new markets, demolish the digital divide
i. Cell phones as personal info companions
ii. Beyond the PC: computers will be eclipsed
iii. non-voice hybrid of digital dial-up, broadband, download