I don’t know how many times this is going to come up, but I’ll keep posting about it until I don’t have to anymore. Podcasting is just a word. It means different things to different people. All that matters is the idea or technology or process that we use the word podcasting to refer to.
PodZinger recently renamed themselves to EveryZing, prompting Ivan at Vecosys to proclaim that podcasting is dead (via Podonomics):
You know that Podcasting is over as a bankable concept when companies start rebranding themselves to escape the word.
Absolutely incorrect. The concept is alive and well. The word podcasting – well maybe it is starting to fall out of favor. The two should not be confused, however! We can use any word we like to refer to the concept, and it remains as valid today as it was three years ago.
(By the way, if you’re unsure of what SSDD means, here’s the definition.)
Exaggerations make for good headlines, but often are less than accurate. VentureBeat ran a post last night about audio and video search startup Pluggd, announcing that the company has raised $1.65 million in funding. The post also says that Pluggd declared it has “perfected the user experience” for audio and visual search. This morning, I came across this NewTeeVee post that sets the record straight:
While we like what Pluggd is doing, that’s a bit of an overstatement.
Video search is often attempted by analysis of the soundtrack, rather than the picture, and we expect that’s what’s going on here. But mainly, we take issue with the claim that anyone has “perfected the user experience” in this area, because a big part of user experience is having a product that works.
Writer Liz Gannes goes on to explain the obvious – that speech recognition technology is far from perfect (though it is getting better). I’m fairly certain that audio and video search will be perfected eventually, but not we’re not there yet.
To their credit, Pluggd commented on the NewTeeVee post:
Matt’s coverage of our technology on venturebeat.com is one of the most thoughtful and complete descriptions of our technology that I’ve seen, but I was also a little startled when I saw the word “perfected”.
While they have lots of work ahead of them, I am sure the new funding will help Pluggd improve their offering! I am looking forward to their technology going live.
Wednesday night was the first episode of CBC Television’s new business reality series, Dragon’s Den. I found out about the show a long time ago through VenturePrize when the show’s producers were looking for contestants. Dickson and I considered throwing our names in the hat, but we decided we didn’t necessarily want the exposure (at the time we still hadn’t launched Podcast Spot). After watching the first episode, two things were confirmed for me (barring any changes in future episodes):
- Had we participated, we’d have been the youngest ones, which is pretty normal for us.
- I think our idea would have fared really well compared with the other contestants.
What I didn’t expect, was that I wouldn’t really like the show! As a result, I decided to do a review. I have always thought that podcasting is a great way to do reviews, because they are usually somewhat boring to type and somewhat boring to read. It’s much more interesting to listen to or to watch a review I think. So with that in mind, here’s my audio review of the first episode of Dragon’s Den!
I’ll probably watch again next week, just to see if my opinions change at all. And to see if any of the contestants have really interesting ideas.
Read: Audio Review
I wouldn’t call it “episode 1” or anything, but here’s a quick little episode I recorded tonight for my podcast, powered of course by Podcast Spot. Basically I talk a little about the cold I picked up at the Expo, the drug I am using to get rid of it (Cold-FX), the outbreak at Lister Hall on the UofA campus, and my favorite, Purell.
Downloads, show notes, and much more can be found on the episode page.
For those of you interested in such things, I used the following to record this episode: Samson C03 microphone, Behringer Eurorack UB802 (connected to Audigy sound card), and Adobe Audition.
Read: The Sickness Episode
While at the Portable Media Expo this past weekend, we head the pleasure of being neighbours with the guys from Samson. They make audio equipment, if you’ve never heard of them. In fact, my best microphone is a Samson C03 (they have a USB version now…mine is the original XLR). This weekend they were showing off their latest gadget, the H4 Handy Recorder:
The Zoom H4 Handy Digital Recorder fits in your palm and is ideal for recording live musical performances, interviews, podcasts, meetings, classes and seminars. The H4 allows you to record 24-bit/96 kHz digital audio as well as in MP3 format with bitrates up to 320kbps.
I really wish I had one of these things back when I was doing BlogosphereRadio. Would have made life so much easier. Some of the features include:
- Two studio quality X/Y pattern condenser microphones for true stereo recording
- Two combination XLR-1/4-inch input jacks with phantom power
- Four hours of continuous recording operation from 2 AA batteries
- 128MB Secure Digital (SD) card included.
And there’s a bunch more too. The combination input jacks are a great idea. When I saw them, I was like “why didn’t anyone else think of that!”
Maybe I don’t want a Zune for Christmas after all?
Read: Samson H4
Microsoft officially launched the Zune today with a press release, and a bunch of photos. All of the specifications are pretty much what Engadget and others have been reporting for weeks, but the one big surprise is the color lineup: white, black, and brown. Yes brown. Engadget has some more details:
They also finally let slip the screen res — an unsurprising QVGA — and some better news on the codec front: the Zune supports h.264, MP3, AAC and WMA. As for ballyhoo, wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing is where the real action is at, and it works pretty much like we’ve been hearing: you can share a full-length track with a friend, and they’ve got three times to listen to it over a three day period, after which they can flag the song for purchase on the Zune Marketplace — unless they’re an unlimited “Zune Pass” subscriber, of course. You can also share playlists and pictures with your buddies, along with what we suppose are “unprotected” homemade recordings.
You might remember that I got the Creative Zen Touch for Christmas two years ago, and it has worked great for me ever since. I still use it every day. But two years is a long time in the world of technology! A brand new Zune, with it’s color screen (my Zen is just blue), video, and wireless capabilities (among other things) might be in order don’t you think?
The white one would match my Xbox 360 quite nicely!
I want podcasting to be as popular as anyone else does (hey, my business depends on it) but at the same time, I am not naive enough to think that podcasting is more popular than blogging. That’s precisely how Podcasting News interpreted some recent Nielsen/NetRatings data however:
Nielsen//NetRatings announced today that 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population, or 9.2 million Web users, have recently downloaded an audio podcast. 4.0 percent, or 5.6 million Web users, have recently downloaded a video podcast. These figures put the podcasting population on a par with those who publish blogs, 4.8 percent, and online daters, 3.9 percent.
The key word there is “publish” – not people who have read a blog, but people who actually create one. You can’t compare listeners for podcasting to creators for blogs and call it a fair comparison! When the number of people creating podcasts gets to be the same as for blogs, there might be a story.
You’ve really got to think about what you’re reading these days.
Read: Podcasting News
“Why listen to a podcast when you can get ten times the content when you read?” That’s the question Peter Davis recently asked, and I’d like to attempt to answer it. Scoble chimed in with his response, essentially saying with communication, you should use the right tool for the job. Maybe that’s text, but in other cases, it might be audio or video.
Here’s why I think you should listen to or watch a podcast, even if you can get ten times the content when you read:
- The Right Tool For The Job
Like Scoble, I think that sometimes audio or video is better suited to the job than text. I’ll just cite his example too – I’d much rather watch a short video about Halo 3 than read an essay on it. It really depends on what you’re trying to communicate.
Can you read an email or the newspaper while you’re driving your car? I certainly can’t. But I can listen to a podcast. Do you carry all your books and magazines with you everywhere? Probably not, but I’ll bet you carry an MP3 player! There are a lot of scenarios where podcasting on the go works and text simply doesn’t.
- Show Some Emotion!
Try to write a really emotional blog post. Or a post that is sarcastic. It’s not as easy as you’d like to believe! Most times, your emotion or sarcasm will be misinterpreted. Audio and video allow you to convey emotion, sarcasm, and other things using tone of voice and body language. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
- Ease of Creation
You’re probably thinking I’m nuts, saying that it’s easier to create a podcast than write a blog post, but in some cases it’s true. The tools to create a podcast will soon be as easy to use as blogging tools, and when that happens, the creation time really depends simply on the content. Most people can talk a heck of a lot faster than they can type, and with regards to video, a picture really is worth a thousand words! Sometimes it might be easier to get your message across in a podcast. Heck, I should be podcasting this post!
I’ve always got some sort of background noise going on, as it helps me concentrate. Sometimes I just block it out, while other times I’ll sort of half listen and if I hear something interesting, I’ll pay attention. The idea here is that I can play a podcast in the background and continue working, and if something being said catches my interest, I might pay a little more attention. Can’t do that with text. I’ve called this multitasking, but you can think of it as passive podcasting consumption!
Don’t be fooled by the comments on Peter’s post and elsewhere – this discussion is about more than just those who listen in the car and those who don’t. Podcasting is an extremely viable communications technology, for a wide variety of scenarios.
To be clear, I’m not saying one should always use podcasting. The most important of the reasons above is to use the right tool for the job. Developers are told this all the time – use the right programming language for the task at hand! Same holds true with communication. If you can communicate something better using text, go for it. If some sound or a short video is better, maybe podcasting will work for you.
Peter is correct in stating that podcasting is not as efficient at delivering information as text is. However, if you consider the amount of overlap that exists in text (look at Google News for a news story, or the hundreds of blog posts on a given topic) it might start to even out. At least for the time being, podcasting does not suffer from the same “echo chamber” as text does.
Now hopefully I’ve offered some good reasons for why you might use podcasting over text. There are many more reasons that podcasting is great, but they go beyond a comparison with text, so I’ll save them for another post. There’s still a long way to go to make podcasting incredibly useful, but it definitely has some inherent properties that make it pretty attractive.
Read: Peter Davis
I am happy to see a large number of podcasting surveys and research efforts lately. The latest comes from Podtrac, who claims to have developed the largest podcasting demographics database in the world, with over 55,000 detailed demographic profiles. Some of the findings:
- 56% of podcast audiences listen to and view podcasts on their computer, compared with 46% on a mobile device.
- A huge majority, 88%, listen to or view podcast episodes in their entirety.
- 76% of podcast users are also online shoppers.
- 41% of U.S. online adults were aware of the term “podcasting” at the end of Q1 2006, compared with just 32% at the end of Q4 2005.
The results are more or less the same as some other similar surveys. Perhaps the only one that seems low is the number that listen/watch on their computers. I think the true number is actually quite a bit higher. I also wonder about the 88% who listen to an entire episode – I am willing to bet that will go down over time.
Read: Podcasting News
Radio industry research firm Arbitron has released a new report that has some information related to podcasting, though they consider it a form of radio. I wondered the other day, as I have in the past, if podcasting was stealing some of the audience away from traditional radio, and the Arbitron report seems to answer no:
According to the report, “Seventy-seven percent of Americans say they expect to listen to AM/FM radio as much as they do now despite increasing advancements in technology.” For people that have listened to podcasts, 27% expect to listen to less radio, and among satellite radio users, 36% expect to listen to less radio.
I guess we’ll find out won’t we? The report also states that 22% of Americans have heard of podcasting, and that 11% have actually tried podcasting. Evidently, the people that are using podcasts are young and relatively affluent.
Read: Podcasting News