kottke.org posts about podcasting
After boxing podcasting soundly about the ears…
The stylistic arena of text and images is so exponentially more vast, and so much easier to negotiate a rewarding path through, it’s hard not to think of the [podcasting] format as broken, a dead end. Perhaps that’s why many come and go so quickly.
…Dean Allen lists some of his favorite podcasts. Many of which I’d immediately subscribe to except that I don’t exercise, drive, or cook. (I will also add that I am so happy to have Textism back in my life. It’s the perfect up-yours to the Web 2.0 hype machinery/chicanery.)
I’m still recovering from the shock upon learning last week that Blogger & Podcaster magazine is in fact real. I thought it was a not-so-clever parody. I mean, look at that cover, it’s just so over the top! (If I were to start a fictional magazine about blogging, I’d call it Post & Permalink in homage to Field & Stream).
Before YouTube and Google Video came along, video on the web often suffered from taking too many cues from the production values of traditional media. Even in the early days of YouTube, a typical video made by someone for an audience was like a mini-movie: 15 seconds of titles, followed by 10 seconds of the actual content of the video, and then 10 seconds of closing credits. Eventually, many people came to realize that all that crap at the beginning and end was unecessary…it’s OK not to have a 40 second video if you only have 10 seconds of something to say. Ze Frank took this notion to the extreme; he often launches right into something at the beginning, eschews transitions, and he just stops at the end. If an episode of The Show is 2 minutes long, it’s because he has 2 minutes of something to say.
Podcasters have been slower to break out of the mold provided by talk radio. The playing of music before segments and as transitions between segments makes some sense on the radio, where it’s used in some cases to fill airtime. But for podcasts, there’s no need to fill airtime with anything but content. 30 seconds of music before the actual podcast begins is the audio equivalent of Flash splash pages on web sites. For instance, the Diggnation podcast has 10 seconds of ads and 30 seconds of theme music before the hosts start talking and even then it’s more than a minute before there’s any new information. It’s important to set expectations and the mood (also know as branding), but it’s possible to do that in a much more economical way — something more akin to the Windows startup sound + “hi this is [name] from [name of show] and let’s get started” — or at other times during the podcast.
Interestingly, when I was looking around for examples of this wasted airtime, the folks making the most economical use of the listener’s time in producing podcasts were from the mainstream media. That is, the people innovating on the form are not the same as those who are innovating on production. Perhaps in an attempt to seem more credible, native podcasters have embraced more traditional forms while those with experience producing audio content for other media are more free to tailor their content to the new medium.
Audio versions of dozens of New Yorker articles. Perfect for the long morning commute (if I had a long morning commute). The same site also has audio versions of several other publications, including Wired, The Atlantic Monthly, and Scientific American. What a great resource. (via rw)
Update: Get them all at once, instructions here.
The streets of Hong Kong can be a hectic place, but one of the first things you notice is that the pedestrian street crossing signals have a very clear audio signal (one would assume, for the blind and/or very nearsighted). Some American signals has audio as well, but very few, they’re not very loud, and they generally kind of lacking. Anyway, I made an audio recording of the signals (30 sec, 240 KB mp3). The sound is kind of blown out (it’s my first experiment with the iTalk) and the signal doesn’t sound that loud IRL, but you get the gist.
Once again, the pornographers are on the cutting edge of technology. Feast your eyes on the Web 2.0ness of mydirtyipod, which offers naughty iPod-ready videos and podcasts. I’m gonna spell this one out for you: NOT SAFE FOR WORK.
Tom Coates fills us in on the Annotatable Audio project he worked on at the BBC. Basically, you select a timed section of an audio file (music, newscast, etc.) and then you write a little something about it, Wikipedia-style.
Over on the Odeo blog, Ev talks about a potentially different type of podcasting, casual content creation:
But, personally, I’m much more of a casual content creator, especially in this realm. The other night, I sent a two-minute podcast to my girlfriend, who was out of town, and got a seven-second “podcast” back that I now keep on my iPod just because it makes me smile. I sent an “audio memo” to my team a while back for something that was much easier to say than type, and I think they actually listened.
A blogging analogue would be Instapundit or Boing Boing (published, broadcast) versus a private LiveJournal (shared, narrowcast). It’s like making a phone call without the expectation of synchronous communication…it’s all voicemail. I thought about doing this the other day when I needed to respond to an email with a lengthy reply. In that particular instance, I ended up sending an email instead because it was the type of thing that might have been forwarded to someone else for comment and returned, etc. But I can see myself using audio like this in the future.
 Integrated podcasting tools within LiveJournal would be huge, methinks.
IT Conversations will be streaming presentations from PopTech 2005 live…Windows Media Player required. :( From Etech to the AIGA Design Conference to Web Essentials 05, more and more conferences letting those of us who can’t attend listen in anyway.
The AIGA has podcasts and presentation materials up for some of the speakers from the Design Conference (my full coverage here). Several of the main stage speeches are up, as well as backstage interviews with some of the participants. In particular, I would recommend:
- Audio of the main stage presentation and interview with Juan Enriquez.
- Audio of the main stage presentation by Bill Strickland on The Design of Leadership.
- Audio of the main stage presentation by Milton Glaser and Nicholas Negroponte.
- Audio of the main stage presentation by Murray Moss, although I’m not sure how well this one would work if you listened to it without the slides.
- The PDF of Stefan Sagmeister’s presentation doesn’t make too much sense without the audio, but the last 50 or so slides are worth checking out for the design candy.
These aren’t just for designers; they’re perfectly fine for non-designers as well. Here’s the RSS file with all the resources…it should work well with your favorite podcasting software or newsreader. It’s great that the AIGA is making these presentations freely available…you’re getting a lot of the conference for free here. If I remember correctly, not even O’Reilly offers the presentations or podcasts for download after their events like Etech.
Update: Wrong again! IT Conversations has several podcasts from the last Etech conference. (thx tim)
The NY Times Magazine has launched The Funny Pages, their comics+ section. PDFs of the comics are available online…here’s the first Chris Ware strip. They’re also podcasting and the first episode is an interview with Ware by John Hodgman, assisted by organist and radio-man Jonathan Coulton.
Something to look forward to: podcasts from the AIGA Design Conference. I’ve been told they’ll be up in a week or two and that they will include many of the presentations as well as a lot of interviews with speakers. I’ll point to them when they’re available.
Garrison Keillor’s ruminations on radio: what he likes and where he sees it going. “Clear Channel’s brand of robotics is not the future of broadcasting. With a whole generation turning to iPod and another generation discovering satellite radio and internet radio, the robotic formatted-music station looks like a very marginal operation indeed.”
Apple unleashed a rash of Slashdottings when they turned on podcast support in iTunes. “It’s very bizarre. The only reason why I found this funny was because I have unlimited bandwidth in my server package. If I were some of the others who got caught unaware, I would probably be apoplectic.”
How to record a podcast using GarageBand. Using GB like this is overkill, but there it is anyway.
iTunes 4.9 now supports podcasting. Boy, podcasting went from zero to corporate in no time flat. Will that pace stunt the growth of indie podcasting before it even has a chance to get started?