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Anyone Remember Podcasting?

Google Trends on “podcasting”

Podcasting is passe? No, the use of audio is not, but as a “hot trend” …..? I’ve always had mixed feelings about podcasting- as a strung together series of technologies- publishing audio in format associated with RSS that could be automatically downloaded, and optionally moved to a portable device– that I loved. What got messy was that for a while, almost any use of an mp3 on a web site as slapped with a verb of “podcasting”.

In the vein of podcasting as a practice- I am at the zero level. I don’t subscribe to any feeds. Now that I’ve started up some running again, I am listening again, but my habits are more browse and pluck / download, then subscribe en masse. I cannot think of anyone really I am that dedicated to listening to on a regular basis I don’t even have a fancy shiny ipod, just a small portable cheapo mp3 player.

And there are still things that bother me with Big Chunks of Media. Specific segments within are still not addressable as a link; I cannot provide you or myself a bookmark to that key segment at 10 minutes and 23 seconds into a segment– so it is all or nothing, and scroll til you can find a section. And… I have no way when I am running to even make my own notes besides about the 2 or 3 things I can remember in my faulty brain, which typically resurface in my RAM about 3 days later.

And yes, I know it has a lot of use and benefits in education where there are compelling reasons to regularly download (e.g. a grade!). That’s all good. But still. as a technology, has podcasting really advanced at all since the peak in 2005? There’s a lot of content, but it still remains un-searchable.

But to not remain totally negative, in my listening while running, I am excited to be getting perspectives and voices I might not get by my rapid RSS surfing– I am spending a good 10, 20, 40 minutes with a single source, not clicking through 39 of them.

So recently I listened to Auto-Buddies: Connecting Relevant Strangers by Lee S. Dryburgh on ITConversations — I like his point that “telephony” as we use the term is a dying one, but really his description of social networking as “enabling conversations between relevant strangers” as something useful as a frame of reference – in comparison to old phone technology which is something meant to connect only to people you know (solicitors do not count as relevant strangers!).

Again, I am not discounting at all a lot of good things happening in podcasting- its that as a technology its meaning was always fuzzy, and may becoming more diluted with the rise of other media forms (video) — and while I am listening to mp3s, I am not really at all doing any podcasting / catching.

So what.

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Profile Picture for cogdog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Aren’t you just identifying the “hype” cycle? Everyone has now heard the term, Business Week is no longer putting it next to Steve Jobs picture. However, it seems to still be a great way to get content. I still catch IT Conversations,, and Backstage with Josh and Drake (I have kids).

    I have reduced my searching for new content, but it is more likely to find me now. I agree that searching and annotation would be a great advance, but I am just an audio learner/lover, so podcasting works for me.

    And yes, video is a compelling media that is coming on really strong, but whether you subscribe to an RSS feed or use Tivo to capture a show its about delivering the content I want to the device I want so I control the playback.

  2. I’m a podcast cherry picker as well. I use it most often to “time-shift” radio programs I can’t receive at work, for material while walking/driving long distance, and other than that only at the behest of friends who recommend something. I “subscribe” in Google Reader to a few feeds and dump them to my music program or just listen there…

    Video is almost of less interest– at least I can do some other things while listening to audio. I don’t have time to watch video (and when I do there are many seasons of The Wire and things to catch up on 🙂

  3. It’s early in the morning. First job of the day to check the twitters that have come in over night. Lets see how can CogDog wake me up but to ask if “Any one remembers Podcating”. Too early for a coherent response for me (have not even eaten my breakfast) but you will just have to handle me response – because as a podcaster I have to respond.

    Ok – Google trends is based on the number of searches done on a term – so you are correct less people are searching on the term podcasting. If you do the same search but use the term podcast then the decline is less. And 2007 is predicted to be the year of the video – if you insert video as the search term you will see an increase. No surprise to me.

    As a podcaster I am aware that in terms of podcasts I try to cater for both audiences. Those that want audio and those that prefer video. Other podcasters in Australia are now also recognising that they need to cater to this audience. I am also aware that there are many people that are not into podcasts which is why I have different sites for my various audience. The key for me listening to podcasts is I have an ipod with an FM transmitter so I listen to them in the car on my very long trip to work (50 min drive).

    Another issue with podcasting has been that there is a very poor understanding by the public of what is podcasting. We hear the term on a daily basis but if you ask most people what it is they could not tell you. I went through the process of creating a podcast with a girlfriend who had no knowledge of podcasting – she was so blown away by the power of being able to multitask and learn (listen while gardening, washing dishes etc) that she went out the next day and bought an ipod!

    You may find something worth listening/watching on my podcast site – if not there are so really funny moments there (

    (Now I can finish reading my twitters and go for breakfast)

  4. Hey Sue– I think you mis read my intention, or more likely, I mis-wrote it. I was not criticizing ANYONE’s efforts at podcasting- to do a regular show is a heroic effort. And I praise the terchnology.

    And the ability to offset time with being able to access content (my running, your driving) could never be done with video.

    My point, obviously off mark, is that like you stated- what “is”pocasting was muddy and never got much more clear; and– that not much has really changed int terms of the technology or method since 2005. And my wondering is how many people really do continually subscribe to shows and how many, like me cherry pick.

    Keep on casting, and I am listening. When I can.

  5. Hi CogDog

    Actually I did not take it as a cristicising podcasting – and if any one miswrote it would be me – remember I was just out of bed, tired and no breakfast.

    Also I really loved your title “Anyone remember podcasting” because it is true – with all the hype – the reality is majority of the people in the world do not know what a podcast is. As a podcaster, I am ok with that because they still find my content just by googling the topic.

    Has much changed in podcasting since 2005 – well maybe not in audio podcasting but certainly video is making a difference. Although I have to ask the question if you like to listen when you are jogging does that annoy you that people like me have both video and audio on their sites.

    From my point of view, whether people listen or don’t is ok, I am motivated by wanting to share information with others, my podcast site is just another way of me trying to help others. And that is what means the most to me – like the person that went and bought a Interactive White board after watching my interview with Richard Meagher.

    PS love buried bones 🙂


  6. You’re right Alan. audio blogging is bigger than podcasting. For me and just about every domestic Internet user in NZ, its just not practical to subscribe to a podcast. We’re on very tight data limits.. something between 1 – 5 gigs per month for NZ$40 plus line rental of $40!! 🙁 So subscribing ‘blindly’ to multi media RSS would be recklessly throwing your data at a long list of stuff we never get time to listen to. We have to pick and choose.

    And for those of us not wanting to be seen dead with that glitzy rich kid iPod bling, having to choke up my no brand MP3 player with auto media from RSS means I have to spend my time trying to work out the horrible no brand interface to skip or delete tracks, instead of jogging to an inspiring talk that was recommended to me by a blogger I like. Audio blogging is better for me.

  7. I’m confused. Audioblogging? Isn’t that just audio on a website? So now instead of starting itunes (or just, or podcastready), and letting it go to every website I want content from, folks are choosing to do this manually? If you have a show you routinely skip, um ….unsubscribe. I do it all the time. I’ll find something I think I like. I give them 3 episodes, and if I’m not into the show I unsubscribe.

    You do not need an iPod or portabel device to enjoy a podcast. Businessweek just had 1 million+ downloads in a month. Sure Podcasting is not growing as fast as its original hype (and thats debatable), everything I see shows it growing.

    If the headline was “remember the Fugees?” they came, hyped, and left. I see no growth there, or poential growth in the future.

    Dave Jackson
    School of Podcasting

  8. No Dave, it does not mean “no one is podcasting” or subscribing in the manner you describe. There is a full spectrum of ways people access, promote, use audio on the web. What do we know about that?

    I do not proclaim to know. I am not stating “Podcasting is Dead” (if I did I forgot to display the <scaracsm> tags).

    It is very easy to make sweeping generalizations– I do it all the time — I was looking for, and getting a range of opinions.

    And I learn- just in your message- thanks for the screencast for !!!!

  9. Hi,

    just thought I’d say from a primary teacher’s view that where video is enabling many to express themselves visually and share with others their Steven Spielberg abilities it has to be remembered that many schools do not allow pictures or videos of children on the Internet. The use of voice is a way around this as it enables children to be heard and what they say as valued and important to be published. That is why I am in the middle of co-ordinating a project with teachers from all over the world called Voices Of The World where each month a short audio file is created by each school which is then mixed together by me to create one audio file with all the different voices.

    I do agree with the searching aspect but like everything in life, once we get what we want we then think of something else we would like as satisfaction is difficult in this fast paced life. Now don’t read this wrong, I am not saying you are not satisfied with life it is just the society we live in always wanting to improve and that is not a bad thing.


  10. ok Alan…….you won……I removed 66 ‘ums’ for me and only 43 for you……and it still sounds like we are talking to each other in a cardboard box.

    As Leigh’s pointed out , RSS is either real simple syndication or for those fools out there that think Diggnation is worth listening to each and every bloody geek word then yes you’ll kill your limits in no time…..real simple stupid stuff.

    I was lucky on my rural connection even to get our recording up.

    Twitter. Tweet tweet. Kill that damn bird.

    I look forward to whining and dining with you when you hit the big smoke of old Sydney town.

    Plenty of dog parks over my way too….:-)

  11. Hi Alan! I’m actually one of the people that podcatches regularly. I’m subscribed to many podcasts via iTunes and it works well with my life style and workflow. I get my tech news from TWiT and other great stuff.
    I have the same frustration regarding WHAT podcasting is and how the term is used. Throwing up an mp3 on a webserver is NOT a podcast. I like to think of my subscriptions like TiVoing a TV show. Each week or day at a certain time I get a new episode in my iTunes and its automatically synced to my iPhone/iPod ready for me to listen or watch at my convenience. Sometimes that in line at the grocery store of carwash, etc.

    And there are tools for tagging video. My favorite is VEOTAG. They have great service that tags any web video or audio file at any location in that file. Its very slick. But its also slow being adopted. I see great potential in tools like this for education especially when using it with archived historical video…lots of ideas spinning in this area.

    Great post!

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