Saturday, October 23, 2004

Carl Franklin wrote some thoughtful commentary about a weblog post by Scott Hanselman on the subject of podcasting. Then Dave Winer commented on Carl's post. Rory follows up with a far-reaching examination of the arguments.


It's an interesting conversation, and one well worth having.

I have been listening to podcasts for weeks now, and to MP3 audio shows since before the term "podcast" was coined. I still don't really like the term, but anyhow... Airplanes are a place I find them most useful - but they have not completely replaced my drive-time commute, which totals about 2 hours a day, because the content quality just isn't there for me yet, with a couple of notable exceptions. I do get a certain amount of enjoyment from podcasts - from some of them, anyhow. Mostly by people you probably never heard of. I really don't have a need or desire to listen to "experts" in go on and on and on and on and on and on about how podcasting just changed the world. A medium that talks about itself feels a lot like MLM. It can't last forever. You wanna talk about the technology your using, make it useful for me - make the time I spend listening to you really, truly worthwhile. It's the content people, CONTENT!

Another thing, about the concept that podcasting will replace/kill radio as we know it - I am not convinced on that one yet. I don't have to think about my radio. It's always there and just turns on and works. No sync, no charging, no programming - just on and off. Therefore I use it. More work than that and it loses some of its utility. They said TV would replace radio. It didn't. In fact, it just made radio bigger. We shouldn't be trying to kill something - we should be trying to create something new. There is a difference.

And regardless of what Dave says, or whether he was involved in creating PowerPoint, and despite a number of other inflammatory things I could pull from his comment on Carl's post and react to, but wont... Scott is most definitely *not* an opponent of technological progress, so use of the term "Luddite" is - well - misplaced at best and flat out mean at worst.

One thing's for sure: It's not at all a useful label in this case. I could use certain blanket terms to describe Dave's words and actions in a variety of situations, and while they may be accurate in terms of one or two things he has said or done in the past, they would not really describe him in whole. It would be wrong of me to call names, so I won't. I wish Dave wouldn't. It takes away from the conversation, and Scott is one person I listen to with great regard for making very complicated things work in the real world.

I don't think Scott was implying (as Dave seems to state) that podcasting was a replacement for PowerPoint. He was using PowerPoint as a metaphor, to show how both technologies - in his opinion - tend to fail to meet their own goals, for man of the same reasons.

Scott originally said, about Podcasting:

 - Clever, yes.
 - Interesting, yes.
 - A new kind of media? Maybe.
 - Useful? Not to me.

Then he points out that using XML to point to multi-megabyte files is contradictory to certain vocal arguments made in the community of late. That's another valid point.

He also correctly points out that the the medium does not lend itself to skimming, browsing or efficient dissemination of multiple pieces of information.

I agree with that position. The people who are making the most noise about this new stuff are people who seem to have plenty of time to record podcasts and to listen to all the regulars. It's a technology that will - by it's very nature - limit the number of people we can listen to and communicate with. It also tends to be a lot more one-way than blogging. Podcasting is not blogging, it's not radio, it's not even broadcasting in reality. But it is cool, and it does have potential. Where it goes we don't know - Rarely does an experiment turn out just the way the founding fathers intended, you know.

Scott has a good point. Carl has a good counterpoint. Dave kind of missed the point but hurled a good insult (good only if you're the one doing the hurling, anyhow). Rory did a great job of taking a good, long step back and covering the bases.

All are very smart guys with great ideas and technological innovation in their pasts.

Pointing out the problems with a technology does not make one a Luddite. Telling people to wait and see before they speak actually just delays technological progress. Hmmmm... Deeelaaayyyys techhhnoloooogicalll progrrressss.... Yeahhh.....

Open, informed, honest discussions are good. Names and insults don't help.

So that's all nice, and yeah discussion is important. But what about podcasting?

What Rory said:

"Just walk away with this: Podcasting is serious Power to the People technology, and we should be excited about that."

Most importantly (I think), here is my pre-emptive thought: Keep the conversation open. Let people comment openly - good, bad or otherwise - and use the information to do things better, and to shape this experiment into something great. If someone counters your position, listen to them. No one person or group owns it. Everyone owns it. Some will innovate, but all should lead. Don't ruin a good thing with politics and personalities.

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Saturday, October 23, 2004 4:37:05 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)