Going West

Wondering what's happening at the technical frontiers of podcasting? Take a look at these examples. Peter Forret is experimenting with podcasting of Windows Media files. Jim Kloss from Whole Wheat Radio keeps pushing the envelope in order to gain more control over who 's downloading what and how often (tracking). The possibilities of adding photos to podcasts are also being examined; this thread from ipodder-dev sheds some light on that.


Feedburner introduces SmartCast

I'm using Feedburner for months now and haven't noticed a single glitch. That's a good omen for their latest innovation: SmartCast. By introducing SmartCast, Feedburner again stays ahead of the curve. It enables any feed publisher (RSS 1.0 and Atom included!) to create Podcasts: "If a publisher isn't able to create a feed that has the enclosure element, they can use our service and we'll turn it into a feed with the appropriate enclosure elements. We do it by first converting the feed to RSS 2.0 if it's not already, then looking at the 'link' of each item and determining if it's a rich media type (by performing a HEAD request on the resource) such as an mp3 or a torrent. If it is, we create an 'add an enclosure' element using the information we determined from the HEAD request."

In addition, they created a "groupcast" tag at del.icio.us. You can assign a media link to the "groupcast" tag, then subscribe to its Feedburner feed and you're in the podcasting loop. They are also considering a premium service that will distribute the load for the enclosure-based feeds. No details on that yet.

Content as a Driving Force

Tod Maffin posted a 'Five Point Roadmap to Podcasting's Future'. Jake Ludington wrote an excellent and detailed follow-up. Their main focus is technology though, the means.. Two sentences in Jake's piece jump off the page: "Content is the one area technology cannot fix" and "At the core, we need better content". Absolutely. Better recording tools, smarter aggregators and api integration are crucial for lowering the threshold and increasing the capabilities and quality. But without unique content as a driving force, both for pulling in excited crowds and directing the technical development, the road leads mainly to smarter software, not better or more popular podcasting.

Adam Curry did it by taking the first steps in such a way that people were buzzing. Geeks jumped in, bending the tools to make it happen. We are now hitting the ceiling. The tools more or less match the demands of current content (creativity) and discussions circle around perfecting the status quo. Who and what will inspire the next leap? Forget 'Prime Time' or even Big Names for a while: there is a potential worldwide audience of millions, that's hanging out somewhere between 'Morning Coffee Notes' and Prime Time. We need content to match that opportunity and technology to facilitate it.


The podomized world

Blogging and the podCasting concept will be the final nails in the coffin of traditional online marketing. Interestingly enough, the chief marketer of McDonald's is spreading the news in general terms: "In today's atomized marketing world ... mass marketing mass messages to masses of people via mass media is a mass mistake". Welcome to the podomized world.


More Names: narrowcasting and vpod?

At the end of this month, Virgin Electronics will introduce its version of a mini ipod. Are they going to brush the term 'pod'(casting) aside, because it refers to Apple's ipod? Made me think of the 'narrowcasting' applications, which "allow advertising and other information to be delivered to narrow demographic groups at specific times in public venues". Many players in that market still use their own term, like 'digital signage', 'dynamic signage', 'digital visual messaging', 'narrowcasting in public spaces', 'out-of-home television', 'digital media networks', 'captive audience networks', 'placed-based media' and so on. 'Digital signage' seems to be winning the battle. That took 3 or 4 years though. Could this happen to pod's and podcasting too? (What's more: by providing subscription based programs to a specific audience, podcasting can also be defined as 'narrowcasting'..). Virgin hasn't officially named its device yet. Wired calls it a 'Vpod' already, but Virgin may have other plans.


Podcasting: What's in a Name?

The name is fine. It's strange, it's funny and it has all the weird connotations to make it stick. Remember Walkman! Some disagree and suggestions are flying around. But .. renaming podcast producers to .. "broadcasters"? Why so puritanical? Many early adopters download podcasts manually to their pc or laptop without using (or sometimes even having) ipodder software. Does the fact that they don't get the mp3's automagically mean they won't call the programs "podcasts"? Of course not. The skeptics are right about the 'Pod'-part though. For many, it indeed implies the need for an Apple iPod. That's why i don't understand the guys at ipodder.org, who still use the subtitle 'The resource for the iPod platform'. iPodder.org is the site people come to for basic information about podcasting, so they should know better! But it could, after all, turn out to be an advantage. By slowing down the influx of the potentially huge mass of Windows users, the developers and pioneers get more time to fix some of the bugs, develop much more advanced features and content and ponder about the lingering and really daunting problem of outbound bandwidth.



The best so far: 'podience' and 'podvertising'. Tagline: 'Podcasting for complete choice of content and schedule'.



In Europe the audiobook still lurks in obscurity. With the emergence of podcasting and the attention that brings to 'all things audio', many people will give it a first or fresh look. Getting 10, 15 or even more hours of mp3 automagically pumped into your pod (of whatever kind) obviously won't do the trick. 'Books by Chapter' could though, as could short stories, columns, editorials, magazine articles, poetry.. Sean Penn has done the audiobook version of Bob Dylan's 'Chronicles: Volume One': give me one ChapterCast a day and an option (after 3 chapters) to end the subscription at any time! Meanwhile Adam Curry is talking to publishers about a new effort to get people listening & buying. He'll make something happen, i'm sure. Of course, many are on the right track already: 'enclosures' and good marketing should do that trick .

Podcasting Vibe

What about this special Podcasting Vibe? Everybody involved is buzzing with energy and ideas. Deep irritation about futile mishaps has given way to endless goodwill (ALL crucial systems halt while ipodder starts downloading!!) and most are suddenly blessed with a thick skin and flexible ego (nobody gets mad at Dave Slusher, no matter how hard he tries). Isn't Adam Curry's Daily Source Code above all a 40 minute shot of New Frontier excitement?! It's a distinctly European flavored (radio) Vibe too, with lots of ironic jokes, mocking and dirty words. At the same time the Open Source community, personified by Dave Winer, brings in its 'Third Way' of doing things, giving the finger to some New Economy basics like secrecy and do-or-die need for profit. This will pass, naturally. Soon the usual suspects like killer apps, copyright and market share will temper spirits. Let's enjoy the ride, either way.


Podcasting and GPS

The possibilities of integrating the podcasting concept with a Global Positioning System are very interesting, both for the user and the commercial services industry. As soon as you near a certain location, the GPS triggers the download. It could be traffic information, information about the area, cities, neighborhoods or even buildings and people. Beyond that, it could trigger commercial messages (all subscription based of course) from specific vendors, events or services in the area. Traveling through a country and getting location based highlights from your favorite travel guide with special events info (pulled from another channel) on top sounds very good to me. The production costs shouldn't be a problem, so many services could start with a very small subscription base. To be continued!


Discussion: podcasting basics

Jim Kloss reacted extensively to some basic questions. Join the discussion ..

Podcasting Video

Why not? At the moment most audio podcasts are between 10mb and 50mb and hi-resolution movie trailers are around 20mb. Miramax listen up! and send me new movie trailers based on my profile. The moment they start listening the technology will be ready. Joshua Kinberg from Vipodder.org is already working on a Mac plug-in: expect a first public beta soon. Showtime!


Podcasting gets 'Wired'

Today podcasting got 'Wired' with an article called 'Podcasts: New Twist on Net Audio'. Shortly afterwards Cnet published the article 'Building a 21st century radio'. Dave Slusher was interviewed for the Wired article and has some comments. A month ago i googled 'podcasting', which gave me around 15-20 results. Now it's exactly 13.000. Interesting to see the impact of these two articles.

Paradigm shift

What the word processor did for the written word and the digital camera for the photo/moving image, the podcast concept will (finally) do for the spoken word and music. Integration of these three constitutes a paradigm shift in communication and publishing.


Adult industry and podcasting

When and how will the adult industry join the ride? Traditional audio blogging didn't suit them commercially. This time though they are going to explore the possibilities more successfully. Like? Well, imagine a podcast from your favorite Miss X: just enter your creditcard number, (nick)name and special 'subject' and she will podcast her private show automatically to your device. Plain (free) podporn commercials with special offers could be a moneymaker too. Interesting to see how Fleshbot.com will handle this. Second stage: audio-video/cam podporn. All fine with me, only the fact that they, again, are going to hijack the search engines with this will be terribly annoying.

Nay-sayer or realist

According to Russell Beattie the first rule of podcasting should be "that you don't talk about podcasting". Well, a classic example of "A Knee-jerk off" or plain realism?


Showtime ..

Now that the core tools for podcasting are more or less becoming available to a wider public, the focus shifts to content, recording and editing tools, podcast receivers and to the huge potential of podcasting, both in content and applications.


What do you want to hear?

What do you want to produce?

What are the best tools for recording and editing?

How do you find the available content?

How do you make your own content available and easy to find?

What about the (potentially huge) costs of outbound bandwidth?

What about the possibilities of merging podcasting with other applications?

What roadblocks lie ahead regarding rights? Some info about MP3 licensing here.