Why I AM Smoking the Podcasting Dope

Recently, Darren Barefoot posted that he isn’t smoking the podcasting dope – he’s skeptical of, well, everything to do with podcasting. Like anything worth talking about, there are those that agree and those that do not (and in Canada, the vast majority sit on the fence). Here’s why I AM smoking the podcasting dope, and like Darren’s post, its a rhetorical discussion:

You need a radio voice.

Why does your podcast have to be professional radio quality? I think many people will enjoy creating podcasts simply so that their friends and family can listen – that doesn’t require advanced audio or a professional radio sounding voice. Um and uh away!

Think back to the early days of the web. Did all websites look great? Nope. There was crap then and there’s crap now. The difference is that the amount of crap has been reduced. I don’t come across a flashing neon web page as often as I used to. I don’t think podcasting will be any different.

And for those individuals or companies that want to produce something more professional, there’s nothing holding them back from acquiring the necessary items.

Podcasting takes too much time.

  • Sure you can skim through 250 blogs a day, and at first glance it may seem impossible to do the same with podcasting. However, while a typical blog may have a new post or two every day, podcasting is much less frequent (unless you’re Adam Curry). I think it’s unreasonable to assume that the volume of podcast episodes will equate to the volume of blog posts.
  • We’ve got tools like Google for the web. We’ve got PubSub, Feedster, Technorati and others for blogs. When the tools exist to help you find podcasts, the task of listening will seem much less daunting. It’s not a barrier, it’s a challenge, and it will be overcome.
  • Who said you have to listen to a podcast on a mobile device? There’s no reason you can’t listen on your computer. Instead of streaming radio at work, many people may start to play podcasts in the background.

There’s no money in podcasting.

As more and more people purchase portable audio devices, the number of hours that people aren’t listening to advertisements grows. Eventually, advertising will find it’s way into podcasting. And as the number of podcasters grows, so too will grow the market for tools and services that help the creators and the listeners. Finally, just as businesses are starting to see the value of blogging, they’ll see the value of podcasting too. There’s a lot of money in podcasting, the trick is to extract it!

Podcasting is hard.

  • Again, think back to the early days of the web. Could everyone make a web page? Definitely not. However, now we have the tools that make it easy for anyone to create a website. When similar tools appear for podcasting, there is no reason that someone can’t podcast very easily.
  • Yes, podcasting does have that extra requirement – hardware. Yet microphones are cheap, and many people already have them. Furthermore, they aren’t hard to use. And if services like Skype already have millions of users with microphones, I don’t see this as a barrier to podcasting.

Podcasting uses a lot of bandwidth/needs a fast connection.

This argument annoys me. How many millions of people download audio and video files from file sharing sites and services? Tons. More than will ever download a podcast probably. And the technology for dealing with such large amounts of data transfer is constantly improving – look at BitTorrent.

Podcasting has a limited audience.

The audience for radio is in decline. The audience for live TV is in decline (just look at the dropping numbers of awards show viewers and the interest in TiVo). Listeners and viewers are changing their habits from conforming to the schedule of the content provider to fitting the content into their own schedule. Podcasting doesn’t require a new audience – the existing audience can use podcasts as just another source of media. In many places, I think podcasting will replace radio.

Podcasting isn’t revolutionary.

Sometimes the best technologies are not revolutionary, but improve on what existed before. Streaming audio simply isn’t a great way to distribute audio on the web – podcasting is an evolution that makes the experience better.

While a writer may show a certain style on their blog, it’s still just text. Podcasting has the ability to reintroduce the human quality to discussions, as your voice is a lot more personal than your writing style. Another benefit of podcasting is that the listener uses their imagination! No text or video to distract from the content, the listener can create the scene in his or her mind.

Podcasting is empowering. It gives the creator a voice and the listener a choice – it doesn’t get much better than that.

I’m sure you can come up with more reasons for both sides of the argument, but that’s why I’m smoking the podcasting dope. What about you?

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