Podcasting or Text?

Post Image“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.
  • Mobility
    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!
  • Multitasking!
    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

Podcasting more popular than beer?

Post ImageYou may have heard the recent story about iPods and how they are more popular than beer among US students according to a biannual study. It’s apparently the first time since 1997 than beer has been knocked from the top of the list. Naturally, one wonders why the iPod is so popular? Managing partner of Student Monitor Eric Weil thinks he knows why:

Part of the explosion in its popularity may be due to the iPod’s use as a learning tool in the form of “podcasting”, technology that allows students to download lectures directly into their handheld devices to be listened to and viewed at their convenience, suggested Weil.

“Professors are using whatever way they can to jam information into students’ brains,” said Weil.

Wishful thinking Eric! I don’t seem to recall any colleges or universities making a big deal out of podcasting just yet. Sure there’s a few professors who have started using the technology, but hardly enough to cause students to give up beer!

A more likely reason is that there are simply more students who like music than who like beer. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there are a bunch of students who call their MP3 players “iPods” even if they aren’t. I’m expecting beer to be back on top again next year.

Read: Yahoo News

Podtrac Survey Results

Post ImageI 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

Canadian Podcasting Survey

Post ImageFound this item via Podcasting News this morning – there’s a new survey aimed at discovering what is happening with podcasting in Canada. I just took the survey, which was relatively quick and painless, so you should too.

Toronto-based Sequentia Communications and Caprica Interacitve Marketing Inc. have joined forces to launch this podcast listeners survey. All of the findings will be part of a whitepaper on Canadian podcasting habits and audience size, to be released in June 2006.

The goal of this survey and its findings are to better understand the growth of podcasting in Canada and how quickly Canadians are adopting this new form of technology.

Apparently the survey is only available until tomorrow, so you better hurry if you want to fill it out! At the end of the survey you can enter an email address to get a summary of the results.

Read: Take The Survey

Published in the National Post

Post ImageI was asked a few weeks ago if I’d be interested in writing something for the May issue of the Financial Post Business Magazine. I guess the editor is a happy subscriber of this blog 😉 Of course, how could I refuse such an opportunity?! So I happily put together an article, which was included in the special report on telecom in this month’s edition, on podcasting and how it affects business and communications:

Business could be using podcasting for everything from audio press releases to customer relations. What’s it waiting for?

It’s easy to see why podcasting could revolutionize day-to-day communications. The tools and services that make it easy to create a podcast are coming, from companies like Paramagnus and our competitors. Online directories and software applications like Apple’s iTunes already make it simple to find and subscribe to podcasts. And the simpler it gets, the more people will take advantage of this powerful tool.

Beyond that, podcasting has business applications ranging from audio and video press releases, to offering tips and tricks on using the company’s products, to internally podcasting company news for employees. Podcasting is more than just the new millennium’s version of ham radio; it is a complete communications solution. When you think of it as something other than a new and geeky technology, the many different ways podcasting can affect your daily life become not only extremely obvious, but awfully exciting.

The entire piece is about 800 words, so the two paragraphs I posted above are just a snippet (but are the main idea behind the article). I had fun writing it, so I hope you enjoy reading it too!

Read: FP Business

CBC Radio Podcasts

Post ImageCBC has launched their updated podcasting initiative, with a broader array of content, an updated website, and regional podcasts. Tod Maffin explains:

It’s taken many months of planning, training, software development, and consultation — but I’m finally pleased to announce that CBC Radio is now making an unprecedented number of programs available for free download or subscription, including “best of” editions from THE CURRENT, DISPATCHES, DEFINITELY NOT THE OPERA, IDEAS, OUTFRONT, AS IT HAPPENS plus comprehensive highlight packages of regionally-based radio programs.

This is really great news for Canada and for CBC – I’m really happy that our national broadcaster is now one of the world’s leaders with regards to podcasting. You can check out all of the shows at the new website, http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/. If you’re in Alberta, you can subscribe to the new “Alberta This Week” show here.

Read: Tod Maffin

Interviewed on the DNIC Podcast

Post ImageI was interviewed about a week ago by John Bristowe who publishes the Developer Night in Canada podcast (gotta love that name!) and the episode is now up. We talked about podcasting in general, about Paramagnus and our products, how we use .NET development, a little about the .NET community in Edmonton, and a little about me.

Mack Male chats about podcasting in this episode of Developer Night in Canada (DNIC). He also discusses how he uses .NET to build out a solution he’s working on for podcasters.

The episode is about 8 MB, and 17 minutes long – check it out!

Read: DNIC

Podcasting Legal Guide

Post ImageA new legal guide for podcasting has been released at the Creative Common site with the purpose of providing “a general roadmap of some of the legal issues specific to podcasting.” The document is quite lengthly, and while I haven’t read through it all, I did notice that it only applies to US law:

This Guide covers only US-based legal questions. Since podcasts are typically distributed world wide, legal issues from other jurisdictions are relevant for you but we are unable to include them at this time. We have released this Guide under a Creative Commons license that permits derivatives works and so we hope that practitioners in other jurisdictions will translate and adapt this Guide for their jurisdictions. Please let us know if you do by emailing podcasting@vogelelaw.com so that we can link to your version of the Guide.

Interesting project, but due to the length, I question how many people will actually read it. Tip of the hat to Geek News Central.

Read: Creative Commons

Featured in ExpressNews

Post ImageDickson did an interview recently with a reporter from the University of Alberta’s ExpressNews, and the article featuring Paramagnus and our business plan competition success is now up:

A couple of University of Alberta students are starting to hear the sweet sounds of success.

The business world has been tuning in to Mack Male and Dickson Wong ever since the duo’s innovative podcast technology earned a place in the VenturePrize finals.

The article borrows heavily from the recent Journal and Sun articles, but is still very well written. And to be honest, it’s nice to be recognized by your school!

Read: ExpressNews