Posted by Steve Yelvington 5:49:04 PM
Podcasting and the Rise of Personal Media
I've been looking at podcasting these last few days. Podcasting is a rip/mix/burn term -- ripped from iPod, mixed with broadcasting, and burned into new types of RSS readers such as iPodder, Doppler, and for Mac users, iPodderX.
Podcasting, like RSS, is simple. RSS2.0 feeds can contain "enclosures," which are little more than the URL of a downloadable media file. A reader who knows about enclosures can automatically download audio (or potentially video) files overnight and synch them to an iPod or MP3 player, or on a desktop computer. It's portable and helps solve some of the irritating practical problems of fat media over the Internet, but more importantly, it feeds a new phenomenon called "personal media."
People are creating their own media space with these devices, disintegrating other peoples' products (such as music albums) and reintegrating the parts in new ways. That's rip/mix/burn. It cuts broadcasting out of the loop. I talked with a woman the other day who has not listened to radio since she got an iPod two years ago. "How do you learn about new things?" I asked. "From friends who are DJs," she explained. Not all of us have such friends, and we do need some sort of outside input into our personal space.
Podcasting adds that input: value-added programming, new information, news ... chosen by the consumer, heard on the user's schedule, in the personal-media environment. Much of the early experiments documented at audio.weblogs.com are terrible, self-indulgent dreck, but quality programming also is emerging.
Seattle's KOMO, Boston's WGBH, and Future Tense (Minnesota Public Radio) program host Jon Gordon have been experimenting with podcasting of programs and segments. This is not radio, and it's not yet clear how programs should be presented and packaged in this medium, but broadcasters that want a future in this personal-media space should take heed. If you're conducting such an experiment, I'd like to know about it.