Monday, February 28, 2005

podcasting is everywhere...

Here's a recent article on pocasting...
Podcasting gives voice to amateurs / Although it's not as easy as blogging, it's still worth the effort

I'm a bit confused about this whole phenomenon...at it's basic level, it's someone recording a "show" (on their pc) and allowing you to download it, right? So why the "podcasting" term? Isn't it just an audio file that you can listen to anywhere, just like any other? I'm not dissing the idea, just trying to understand it. In some ways, it seems like it's a new spin on an old thing. Something that is, currently, getting "marketed" really well. Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad it's happening because it's also making others sit up and pay attention, like KCRW, and we're starting to see more shows available for delayed listening. I guess what's confusing about it is that a lot of stuff is already out there, in the form of audio archives, it's just the name that's making it into something else. Am I way off base here? Or is podcasting more of a grass-roots level thing that is now being co-opted by the big boys to make their "audio archives" more fashionable and hip?

In the future, will we have everything available this way? Music on demand? Listen to what you want, when you want?

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's partly about automation. A Podcast is an audio file, usually an mp3, that's true. But it's put into an enclosure in an RSS feed.

Listeners don't have to go looking for the audio constantly. Simply set up a subscription in a RSS reader that supports podcasting, like NetNewsWire, and all new "Shows" automatically download to your computer, and if you have things set up properly, automatically get uploaded to your iPod. So you wake up, get ready for work, grab your iPod on the way out the door, and you have new audio to listen on your commute. Or when you are jogging. Or pretty much anytime you want.

The other part of the puzzle is the "podcasting community" which is sort of one part pirate radio and one part independent zine. Amateurs, semi-professionals, and public radio like KCRW and WNYC, etc. are all part of the podcasting scene. But since the listener is choosing the podcast she wants to subscribe to, that makes the individual her own sort of radio director, especially if podcasts are listened to in between the user's own music from the iPod.

3:52 PM  
Blogger guanoboy said...

So, the key to this seems to be the automation portion. Being able to download what you want is big, of course, but that's a limited thing. You can only download what you want from what's available from the podcasting community.

So, back to automation...basically, it's a lot like movies on demand or any other service like that. These files site there, in a wrapper, waiting for the app to identify that they are new and then, for those subscribed, the file gets downloaded to their portable mp3 player of choice so that they can listen to it whenever they want.

So, in a sense, it's a bit like Griffin's Radio Shark or Tivo, except that the programming (podcast) is made specifically for this purpose, instead of the technology adapting to accomplish it.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're pretty close. First, remember that this is RSS. You're using ATOM on this site, so you should know how that works. Instead of me having to go check this site every so often I can just set my RSS reader up and it will let me know when there's a new post. This is similar.

As for the "similar to TiVO / Radio Shark" -- yeah, sort of. I use an app called Audio Hijack Pro to do a similar thing -- record internet streams on a schedule to get specific shows. The difference is, with any of these things, if something gets messed up you might miss the broadcast. If you lose power at your house during LOST, your TiVo won't record it and you'll miss the episode. If your cat knocks out your Radio Shark cable from your computer, you'll miss that too. With podcasting, the user doesn't have to make "an appointment" to get a show. Whenever the producer puts out the podcast to the RSS feed, anyone can get it after that point.

In this sense, podcasting is a little closer to Netflix -- once you get a Netflix DVD, you can watch it whenever you want with no late fees. Or like the iTunes Music Store, where you can buy a track at any time. Unlike Netflix though you don't have to listen to one podcast before getting the next -- you can save them up if you want and do a marathon if that's your thing. And unlike the iTMS you don't have to pay a buck a podcast.

I guess it's like a cable "On Demand" serivce or Pay Per View without the Pay part, but I'm less familiar with those so I can't be 100% positive of the outcome.

My advice? Grab a free podcast client and try a few out. Adam Curry's Daily Source Code is a good starting place for many people, and since you mentioned KCRW before, they start podcasting tomorrow so those might be worth trying out too. If you don't have an iPod or other mp3 player simply use whatever is on your computer to listen. Although that's not the full experience, you'll still get a chance to see how some of the parts work together as a whole.

4:58 PM  
Blogger guanoboy said...

Thanks for the reply...I understand the concept of it completely, and how it works...I guess I just don't get they why. I haven't felt compelled to listen to any of the podcasts I've run across. Like you say, it's something I'll just have to listen to. A good friend of mine is actually doing a lot of podcasting and we've had discussions on it many times, and I've listened to his. I just haven't gotten hooked on it. The part that's missing for me is the ipod. Perhaps, that's really why I don't get it. I don't have the ability to make these items portable and I don't really want to listen when I'm at work or home to "talk" based content, it's requires more of my attention than I have to give.

Maybe one of these days I'll buy an iPod. The recent size increase actually makes them more attractive, but the price is so insane to me. Also, it's one of those things that I'm hesitant to get into because of the immense size of my music collection and knowing how much of my time it could suck up so fast. And, well, podcasting seems like another way to chew up that time. I'll just have to set aside some time to listen more.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. The iPod. :)

It makes my life really nice. When I'm in my car I use an FM transmitter thing to play stuff from my iPod over my car stereo. When I get to my destination I can pause the iPod a moment, put on headphones, and continue listening to whatever I was in the car. If I'm listening to a show, like WNYC's On The Media, and I need to stop it to talk to people or just for a break, I can, just like my TiVo and get back to it later. I can "scrub" through shows if a topic comes up that doesn't interest me and get to more important stuff. And I never have to deal with commercials.

For music, I always have stuff I enjoy to listen to, in a number of different playlists. I do a lot of what is called "smart playlists" where the playlists are dynamic and change over time, like one playlist just for songs I've added in the last month, or one for songs I haven't listened to in over three months. I can keep track of how many times I've heard specific tracks, the last time I heard them, I can set ratings, give custom genres for organizing, etc. It's like having a 100 disc CD changer, but much better.

I even have a little "speaker station" in my kitchen, where I hook the iPod up and listen to things while cooking, and this takes up half the space of where I used to have a stereo for the same thing.

I'm just a music/radio geek, and often have something on for my ears, background music at work, workout music for exercising, NPS shows, etc. The iPod keeps it all together and is so small I can carry it all over and never notice it.

5:37 PM  
Blogger guanoboy said...

Yes, the Ipod.... :)

Don't get me wrong, I use iTunes all day long at work, I've got TONS of music in it, 50 gigs to be somewhat exact. I've never felt compelled to own an iPod as those 50 gigs represent about 1/20th of my entire collection...an iPod just seemed so, limiting...and believe me, I'm just about the only person I know who doesn't have one. I'm the guy who, when they find out I don't have one, people react with a shocked face. They expect me to have one or two of them. But, again, it comes down to spending $400-500 on one that just seems crazy. And, I must admit, I've never been one to listen to a walkman. I like my music to be part of the environment, not to supercede it. The part where it becomes really tempting is in the auto, that's where I'll probably break down and buy one. And I love the smart playlist function, I've got one set up for tracks that I've never listened to that's vital...iTunes is a smart program, one that makes my life a lot easier. Music is a huge part of my life, just not a portable part, except for what's on my laptop.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't need to spend $400-$500 for an iPod.

Here's what you do: Buy a 4 GB iPod mini for $199. When you hook it up, set it to only sync with selected playlists, rather than trying to to do your whole 50 GB library. The playlists you will synchronie with can be mostly Smart Playlists, which you already know about. Have one playlist for 5 star songs, limited to 1 GB, selected at Random Have another for recently added songs. Have a third for songs you haven't heard in awhile. Have a fourth for podcasts. :) Etc.

Now when you use your iPod, it will keep track of things you do and when you sync it can change your playlists dynamically, so over time your entire library will rotate in and out of the iPod. You won't have everything, of course, but you'll have a good amount of stuff, and if you know in advance you will want to listen to a specific song then you can make sure it gets on one of your playlists. This is what I do and it works really well. I always have my top rated stuff, my recently added stuff, my podcasts/radio recordings, and a selected subset of everything else picked by how long its been since I heard it.

Or if you really want to be daring, get the $99 iPod shuffle, and use it's Autofill feature to randomly grab tracks from your library and do all the rotation stuff for you.

I also have a portable, a 12-inch Powerbook, and while I use that to play some stuff from iTunes, I really use the iPod a lot more. As I said before, it is easy to set up a kitchen environment, for example, where putting my Powerbook in would be a bit too much, but the iPod/speaker combo works really well. I think I use my iPod about half with headphones and half with car/remote speaker setup.

7:45 PM  
Blogger guanoboy said...

It's amazing how much the iPod becomes a part of someone's life once they get one...I think that's probably a bigger part of my reluctance. I've got so many gadgets I cart around as it is...but your logic only makes it more compelling....

It just isn't a need yet...it's only a want. Therefore, it falls down the list of things to purchase.

maybe someday.

1:23 PM  
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1:38 AM  
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