It’s podcast mania out there.
I’m getting more requests for information, demos, etc internally. People are wondering what the implications are for the Apple iTunes U offer (I signed up, what’s to lose?). I have weak optimistic hopes we can move quickly past the “Oh, I can put my lectures online” flash of brilliance.
Just the sheer mention of the “p” word has climbed in geometric proportions since the beginning of the year, and mostly attributed to the Christmas New iPod Effect.
And as to more of this pre-amble, I am loathe to dicker over definitions of things… but still, almost before I left San Diego yesterday, I had an interesting exchange with Bryan Alexander, who asked me if I thought podcasting was a Social Software.
My first thought was “no”. Well actually it was, “gee, Bryan is so damn smart, and I do not even have a good pat answer as to what ‘social software’ is!” I have a fuzzy internal definition along the lines of Chief Justice Potter Stewart‘s porn quip, “I know it when I see it.”
And at the same time, I have heard discussions that want to call any technology that has some sort of communication as ‘social software’, lumping in email, discussion boards, chats, etc. Yuck. That does not wash for me. What does that get us? So I am thinking it more has to do with technologies that allow for a simple or complex network connections to be made between people and information, and mostly allow for things that leverage the power of the crowd. And there needs to be a personal gain into doing the social thing Yuck again.
But in all that, we both agreed that podcasting falls outside the grey blurry boundaries. For one, it is all about broadcast, there is no interaction back from the user to the podcasting person/thing/entity. And that gets me thinking– if the Web 2.0 ballyhoo is all about moving to the “Read/Write” web than the next bump up for audio ought to be the “Listen/Speak” web. Is that just being cute with words?
And this is where podcasting to a small or medium size degree bugs me. it’s one way transmission of huge blobs of data. You are stuck with a huge chunk of indivisible media, which you listen from start to finish, or guess where something is in the middle (see Podcasts, All or Nothin’). There is no way yet (beyond the magic of Jon Udell). Thus, you cannot easily rip and mix (repurpose) audio content, nor can you point to specific sentence/phrase within the audio blob. You cannot bookmark a segment 4 minutes 32 seconds into a 55 minute cast, nor can you attach notes, annotate. You cannot tag a quote in an audio.licio.us site.
So while iTunes does an elegant job of enabling podcast subscription and download in one interface, it’s really only as advanced as the Mosaic Browser period that was Web 1.0 in 1993.
When we were doing the NMC Horizon Board discussions a year and a half ago for the 2005 version, I had a flash of an idea that quickly sublimated, but it was something like a concept of an audio wiki, where sounds could be quickly built in segments, re-edited, intensively linked by multiple persons. I’m not sure what one would do with it, but if something like this really existed, it would atomize audio content down from the podcast duration into smaller, reusable chunks.
So someone please let me know when it is time for Web Audio 2.0. Until then, like many, I’m trying to quickly ramp up on podcasting, and how to explain, demo its potential to others.
Later… Interruption. About 20 minutes after filling out the iTunesU information form, I got a call from an Apple dude, and signed up to get in early.