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Simple enough: everything having to do with podcasting.
About these Authors
Alex Williams Alex Williams
( Profile | Archive )

Matt May Matt May
( Profile | Archive )

Nicole Simon Nicole Simon
( Profile | Archive )

Roland Tanglao Roland Tanglao
( Profile | Archive )

Matt May is a Web accessibility specialist, and has written on the interaction of people and technology since 1995. He keeps his own weblog at, and produces a podcast called Staccato, which features Creative Commons-licensed music.

Alex Williamsblogs, consults and produces unconference style events, where people immerse in DIY media. These are fun occasions, designed for people who want to get together with authors, artists, technologists and leading thinkers to converse, eat, listen to music, write, shoot photos and post podcasts and videoblogs. Alex also works with companies to establish DIY approaches, where writing, photography, voice and video come together to create new conversations and communities. Alex is currently fascinated with digital photography. His girlfriend calls him a Flickrholic. Send Alex a nice message: alexhwilliams at

Nicole Simon loves blogging and podcasting, dashed with an European view. As consultant she helps to facilitate such tools for business purposes or personal publishing empires. She can be found at cruel to be kind and on her private blog Useful Sounds.

Roland Tanglao is a well known podcasting enthusiast and a passionate advocate of blogs, RSS, and social software as a means of online expression for people, organizations and businesses. He is a prominent participant in the blogosphere and online communities and one of the founders of Bryght and as Bryght's Chief Blogging Officer reads hundreds of blogs daily. He graduated from the University of Waterloo, worked at Nortel Networks where he ran its first internal corporate blog, has has been blogging since 1999, and was the first business blogging consultant in Canada.


Monthly Archives

November 30, 2005

AmigoFish - get predictions for new podcasts

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Posted by Nicole Simon

As more and more podcast are published, it gets more complicated to choose from the available. Dave Slusher has now launched AmigoFish, a new service for the listener to "fish" for new podcasts based on ratings from other listeners.

The concept is very simple and well known: If others like the same shows you do, you might want to look into their other choices because you might like those also. Naturally, the system gets better the more people participate and rate podcast - not only the ones they like, but also not liked.

So this is not yet another directory, or another website where you as a listener are driven to vote, but a service which can have value for you, based on your ratings.

I was allowed to test the service some time ago and even back then with only a limited amount of input it brought me some new podcast I like to listen to now. Visit the website or read the blog.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Products

Podtech Gets The News About RSS For Yahoo! Mail and Alerts

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Posted by Alex Williams

John Furrier gets the podcast exclusive about the Yahoo! announcement for RSS in Yahoo! Mail and Alerts. John is convincing folks that it does make sense to launch a new product with a podcast. A few reasons why this makes sense:

* I can listen to the interview, which provides a bit more context to the news release
* I can use it as a comparison to the other blog postings about the announcement
* I can quickly go through the transcript, again to find insights into why the announcement makes sense

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

November 28, 2005

We need real mobile podcasting hardware

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Posted by Roland Tanglao

I want a box about the size of an iPod that has drag and drop of files via a USB Mass storage driver, 6 hour battery life, takes compact flash cards so there are no moving parts, has 2 XLR and 1/4" inputs and real phantom power (48 Volts) and a built in compressor (software compression is for the birds :-) !) so that people don't talk over each other. The M-Audio Microtrack 24/96 comes the closest (the Marantz PMD 660 is too big!) but it doesn't have real phantom power (only 30 volts) and there is no compressor.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

I want the iPhoto and Aperture of podcasting

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Posted by Roland Tanglao

I want the ability to easily create and manage my audio podcasts using simple software in the same way that iPhoto is easy and simple, entry level, software for photos. And when my needs increase, I want the "Aperture of podasting"; basically software that allows me to manage my workflow and has rudimentary sound editing tools with the ability to launch more powerful sound tools. Sorry, but Audacity, GarageBand et al don't cut it!

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

Ads on the iPod

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Posted by Alex Williams

I see over at Red Herring that Walt Disney Disney and Clear Channel are getting intio the iPod advertising game. What's going to get onto these iPods? It looks like movie clips from Disney's Chronicles of Narnia and Clear Channel's Rush Limbaugh.

But it is still such a tiny market out there. But the question is, how big will it get? And how fast will it happen? According to eMarketer, spending on online video advertising is expected to triple in the next two years, rising to about $640 million. By 2010, it could hit $1.5 billion.

But how does online video advertising fit as a segment of the total online advertising market? Here are some numbers from Jupiter Reseasrch I saw at ClickZ article from earlier this year:

Online video advertising is a tiny segment of the overall market, drawing a scant $121 million in spending last year compared with $9.5 billion for all online media, according to JupiterResearch. Other stats show Web video ad spending represents just under a tenth of a percent of the $250 billion total U.S. ad market.

But look at the market and you'll see Internet properties with audiences rivaling some cable networks. Sure, but I keep thinking how advertising will affect the original work that people are noe producing. What will advertising do to the fresh outlook of all these backyard producers?

I'll keep watching as long as folks keep mixing it up. So if anyone has a mashup with Rush Limbaugh appearing in the Chronicles of Narnia, please let me know. That's a backyard mix I'd love to see.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

Women In Podcasting

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Posted by Alex Williams

Via Scoble, I see that Amy Gahran has added 40 new shows to her women in podcasting list, bringing the total to 120. She posts the list as an OPML file.

Here's what she says about the list:

When I first converted this list from a maintenance nightmare (HTML page) to an OPML outline, I discovered that nearly half of the shows originally listed are now defunct. However, I still have a huge backlog of new suggestions to plow through. As a rough estimate, I think that when I’ve caught up with the by backlog of suggestions, about 100 or more shows will be on the current list.

What I like about this list? It's an updated source of shows edited by someone who cares about the topic. I trust it. Perhaps with OPML gaining more traction, more folks will keep podcast lists such as these as they appear to be easier to maintain than updating HTML files. I just started fiddling with the OPML editor, so perhaps I'm off, but for non-programmers like myself, creating an OPML list or outline looks far less ghastly then editing an HTML document. Now all I do is to learn how to make it look decent. :-).

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

November 26, 2005

Videoblogs v. Video Podcasts

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Posted by Alex Williams

JD Lasica rounds up some conversation on the distinction between videoblogs and video podcasts.

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November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

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Posted by Alex Williams

Hey, all -- Happy Thanksgivng to all of you out there. Enjoy.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events

Chinese Podcasters Hit Airwaves With Lifecasting

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Posted by Alex Williams

Podcasters from 16 Chinese provinces are getting airplay on radio stations iin what organizers are calling lifecasting.
is the first among a dozen Chinese podcasting websites to pass its podcasts, or home-made or professional audio contents, over to 16 provincial or regional radio stations early this week.

The contents from the Internet are being broadcasted daily on the radio in the form of a 30-minute programme called Wangyou Happy Happy Hour (Kuai Le Le Fan Tian).

The idea behind the effort is to showcase people's lives, primarily from the interior parts of China, where apparently, podcasting and blogging are more popular activities.

More than 40 additional radio stations are expected to join the effort by May of next year

The contrast to the US is striking, where KYOURadio in San Francisco is one of the few radio stations to broadcast the podcasts that it receives from people wishing to get their shows on the air.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

November 21, 2005

Some thoughts about Audible's Wordcast

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Posted by Nicole Simon

PR blogger Steve Rubel gives a round-up about the PR impact of Audible's Wordcast system, introduced at the Portable Media Expo (Audible's Black Friday: A Case Study in PR vs. BR), comparing the reaction of normal media against new media.

The blogosphere was not very pleased with Audible's announcement. Especially the proprietary file format and the fees have caused negative reactions. It will be interesting to see if Audible makes changes to adapt to this criticism, when they finally launch the service (The service is still in closed beta.) While it is doubtful that there will be any changes in the file format, Audible might change something in the cost model.

Audible is the first big player to take a step into helping podcasters to monetize their productions. It is different than their usual business, which deals with publishing houses etc, but the podcasting business is probably too good to miss out on. And many podcasters want to earn money.

Marketers on the other hand have a different interest and love what Audible promises to give: A complete control over how long and how often a "podcast" has been listened to. (Which leaves me with the question, if these numbers are also reported today on their usual products?) .

Forcing everyday podcasters into Audible's format might heavily damage the popularity of a podcast, and for most podcasters this service is very expensive just to get some numbers. It will be more intelligent to go for new ways of financing their costs.

But for podcasters with high valued (and payed for) content, this could be just another position in their calculation and may reduce at the same time the cost and complexity of collecting money from their customers..

One has to ask the question though, if this is still podcasting? Pay per delivery of content in proprietary file format is a business Audible has been following for years - but it is not what most people enjoy about podcasting.

So far, Audbile benefits in many different ways. They have some clever moves in connecting their brand with podcasters and get a big share of media attention on the way. If they get content producers into their system, they also expand their attractivness of the rest of their products. And not only will they earn money through pdocasters, they could try to use the podcasters as unpaid betatesters for their ad insertion service - one day this service might be offered to old media as well.

A lot of advantages for Audible, but we will have to see, if podcasters benefit too.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

Streaming, Podcasting and Those Awful Words

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Posted by Alex Williams

Last week, Nine Systems announced a podcasting service to compliment the streaming they do. They're the first streaming company as far as I know that is venturing into the podcast space.

Nine Systems streams sporting events such as The Open Championships golf tournament. These are streamed broadcasts, which in the future could be available as video podcasts.

My question: Do they get it? Here's what they say they can do:

The podcasting solution allows content producers to control the podcasts that are made available to their audiences. Other features of the podcasting solution include publish of podcasts for on-demand streaming and download content and live streaming content and guarantee compatibility with iTunes and other aggregators with support for RSS 2.0, iTunes elements and Yahoo! Media RSS 1.1.0. The Stream OS podcasting platform also tracks podcast circulation, syndication, aggregator type and click-through with extensive reporting.

I read through this and wonder why streaming is so critical? Live sporting events? Sure, streaming may make sense but I'm not convinced people want to sit in front of their computer to watch a game. Financial institutions that need to be extremely diligent about releasing information see value in streaming. I talked to a chief investment officer with a large financial services company earlier this year who said for their annual events they have to stream the whole thing so as to keep in line with SEC regulations. But even in that case, I'm not sure that streaming is any better than podcasting. In fact, podcasting may be even better as people can take the information with them, free from the PC. Publicly traded companies use streaming for quarterly announcements. Streaming allows for live Q&A, etc. Even there, podcasts of the announcements seems like it should be required as they would be so accessible to people.

Isn't it far less expensive to make shows available as downloads than to stream them? And isn't it far less costly to do a recording and then make it available, perhaps in smaller segments? And what is the value in the tracking they provide? Most of this tracking they offer can be done with a service like Feedburner.

Further, all this talk in the Nine Systems press release of content and control makes you wonder about companies getting on the podcast train. After reading the announcement I decided to dive into Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes , the long essay Doc Searls published last week. The essay covers a lot of ground. But it's insightful when you compare it to the language of the Nine Systems announcement.

A main theme of Doc's essay is about the power the big carriers want to wield by controlling access to their pipes. Doc plays out a scenario that asks: Who can afford to play in this web space if the carriers get their way and close down the pipes to all except those who can pay their tolls? The answer: Companies that subscribe to the language that the carriers have successfully spread into our vernacular. The carriers see the web as a system of pipes, not as a frontier or place where free culture is thriving. The carriers see the Internet in terms of packet transports. All those podcasts, blogs and other media are just cargo in containers. And if that's the case, then those containers are subject to inspection and can be stopped to be checked for offensive materials or whatever "illegal," possessions may be inside. The only ones who will be able to fill to these containers are the ones that the big carriers see fit to provide access. In that scenario, the "content industry," meaning big media companies, will be the natural partners for the carriers. And the consumers will only get what the content industry allows us to consume.

And in that case, it won't matter. We'll just have to take what we get. You may not agree with this line of thinking, but it does certainly raise questions how the language is being used to the favor of those with a big interest in making money off all those pipes and switches.

Doc explained this whole concept of "content," to me at the Syndicate conference last year. I had used the terms extensively in a panel presentation. After talking with Doc, I realized that content is a word that we have become used to using in our language and I should avoid it all costs. For me, part of it is just better word choice. Content is one of those words that is right up there with facility.

And this is why these monumental battles often come down to battles over linguistics. For it is those words that define our concepts and our culture.

As for me, I'm with Doc. I beleive the Internet is a place where the indiviidual has control, content is technical speak and people are never called users.

Users. Ugh, don't get me started.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (2) | Category: News and Commentary

November 15, 2005

Arrested Development...Let's Get It Started

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Posted by Alex Williams

I heard the news today, oh boy. Arrested Development is on the brink of getting canceled. Looks like I have one more reason not to watch television.

I am doubtful of any reprise of the show. And I am doubtful of any re-launch into some other form. But we can dream, can't we, of the Arrested Development video podcast?

Arrested Development seeded into BitTorrent? Arrested Development video blogs?

That's the day dream fantasy I read over at Lost Remote. And reiterated at the Long Tail. Sigh. I have little expectation of this ever happening. But we can dream, right? And one day, perhaps this extended treatment of excellent television comedy/drama will just be the norm? Right?

In the meantime, time to get the show into my queue.

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November 14, 2005

Does Your Company Have A Blog or Podcast?

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Posted by Alex Williams

I'm speaking at SRI's Beyond Blogs and Social Networks. I'm looking for people to interview. Your input would be valuable and important as I discuss the issues with setting up a corporate blog or podcast. What are the issues you faced when getting your blog or podcast started? How are you maintaining it?

Interested? Please contact me and we'll set up a time to talk. E-mail: alexhwilliams at gmail dot com.

Thanks. Alex.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events

Hosting and the Future of Podcasting With Yahoo!, Google and Audible

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Posted by Alex Williams

Yahoo! is working on a podcast development tool. The news came at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. The show was also rife with talk of similar development efforts from Google and Microsoft.

In the background of all this is hosting, which is changing dramatically now that audio and video are taking a bigger slice of web traffic. Hosting companies are adjusting, upping the amount of bandwidth and storage space to accomodate podcasters and videobloggers.

links to Netcraft, which sums up the situation, again looking at giants like Google, which looks to be making a big play, recently with the lease of 270,000 square feet of a telco hotel in New York City.

On another stage, a firestorm of posts blew over the blogosphere in reaction to Audible's announcement at the Podcast Expo for its news service, which it calls Wordcast. The service is all about the business of podcasting, claiming it allows podcasters to build multiple revenue streams "around capabilities such as advertising management, dynamic ad-insertion, underwriting and secured transactions.." As part of the service, Audilble's fees cover bandwidth, hosting and reporting costs.

Since the announcement, a firestorm has erupted with a hot point sparked with Mitch Ratcliffe's long post on the future of podcasting, in which he argues that Audible's effort is advancing podcasting and that they seek to engage in converastion with the community. Ratcliffe, a consultant to Audible, lites a match to the debate, with not always ingraciating references to Winer and Doc Searls, two firm opponents to DRM, which Audible does use to protect its revenue stream. Read reaction to Ratcliffe's post at Tech.Memeorandum.

We're in the next wave and it appears that podcasting is simply the catalyst, with the bigger story being the morphing amount of audio and video on the web.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

November 12, 2005

Podcast Expo impressions

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Posted by Matt May

The Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference is starting to wind down, so I have a few moments to talk about my thoughts on the first 1000-plus-attendee conference built around podcasting.

When I walked into the exposition hall to collect my credentials on Thursday, I turned to the security guard, pointed up at the sign, and said, "See that word? Podcasting? That word didn't exist 16 months ago." Even he was impressed. The Expo was sold out, with an attendance of 2500. A number of podcast directories, iPod accessory makers, hosting services, software vendors and allied tradespeople are exhibiting (not to mention the pathologically gregarious Brother Love, who has been all smiles this weekend as he hangs out with the folks playing his podsafe music).

Some big names, like Yahoo, Audible, Intel, Adobe and MTV Networks, have appeared on the dais. Some others are notable for their absence (hint: two of them make operating systems).

On the expo floor, patterns emerge. Most exhibitors can be filed under:

  • Podcaster-oriented services and software (Liberated Syndication, FeedBurner, FeederReader, various audio tools)
  • Sound hardware (M-Audio, Sony Pro Audio, Marantz Professional)
  • Payment and ad platforms (PayPal, BitPass, Podvertiser, Click & Buy)
  • User groups (Association of Music Podcasting, LA and Orange County podcasting groups)
  • iPod and other player accessories (too many to count)

I'm still astounded by the scale of this event. It's clear that this is a going concern, and I would imagine that next year, the Expo will attract the attention of those who stayed away this time, along with a whole lot of high-end audio companies. I saw Michael Geoghegan's session in which he described the $25,000 studio he assembled for the Grape Radio podcast, and then could swear I saw thought bubbled pop up around the room: "I can buy that much gear? Really?" Overall, the conference is large, and I'm guessing it will only increase in size.

At the same time, there's been visible reason for reflection on just how big we really are. We've been sharing the Ontario Conference Center with the Portable Sanitation Association, which has an expo hall about the same size as ours. I can't help but guess that if we compared finances between the two rooms, we'd see that the federation of porta-potty purveyors generates maybe 1000 times more revenue than those showing off their wares in the Podcast Expo hall. Though admittedly, we don't traffic in human waste.


More soon.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Events

November 10, 2005

NPR Doubles Its Podcasts

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Posted by Alex Williams

Now, who wants to be a news leader in the podcasting space? Looks like NPR is going for the gold medal, with the introduction of 16 new podcasts, bringing its total to 33.

A few matters of interest:

* NPR is doing its own original podcast programming under its new, "alt.NPR," brand. This is a step up in the big media world as most have chosen to simply repurpose existing shows they have run on radio or TV.
* NPR is mining their vast archives. Expect to see more media networks find more ways to use podcasting as a means to surface and get some added value from their archives.
* NPR is combing its broad programming to create theme based podcasts. This is a repurposing strategy that leverages NPR's shows to create new programs that fit into categories. For instance, NPR will inroduce thematic podcasts focusing on environment, food, pop culture, religion, business story of the day and Sports with Frank Deford.
* Topical podcasts are also part of the mix, allowing NPR to provide timely shows such as those that will be featured during the holidays or an important event, such as the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito.

The orignal podcasts include:

Three original-to-podcasting titles, under a new alt.NPR brand name: "On Gambling with Mike Pesca," a weekly examination of gaming culture, trends and psychology from the NPR News reporter; Groove Salad’s "Taste of the Week," a selection of music from San Francisco’s eclectic online music service SomaFM, and "Youthcast," public radio productions from up-and-coming young producers from PRX/Public Radio Exchange.

Archived podcasts:

Also among the new offerings are three entries from NPR member stations and respected program producers WAMU and KCRW: the full download of the new NPR series "The Business" about the entertainment industry from KCRW Santa Monica, and WAMU Washington D.C.’s "Friday News Roundup" from "The Diane Rehm Show" and "Tech Tuesday" from "The Kojo Nnamdi Show."

Topical podcasts:

Finally, NPR will introduce topical podcasts. Its upcoming "Holiday Story of the Day" will be available starting November 21 and continue through January 6, 2006. Also, in January, NPR will offer nightly podcasts of its one-hour broadcast wrap-up program of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito. These will build on NPR’s commitment to public service and the success it experienced with similar nightly podcasts for the John Roberts confirmation hearings, which immediately broke into iTunes’ Top 100 and remained there through their run. The Alito podcasts will be available nightly at 11PM (ET).

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

November 09, 2005

The threat of a music licensing war

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Posted by Matt May

Battle lines are being drawn between podcasters and music rights holders, from news we've received this week. The Register reports that Dutch record labels are rejecting a podcast license proposal, claiming that a flat rate for all podcasters is unreasonable. I think that objection belies a rift between the two camps that is more volatile, far-reaching and indicative of an international showdown than the article suggests. This could be the week that changed music podcasting forever.

In his November 7th Daily Source Code (#275), Adam Curry talks about his discussions with the Dutch record industry and performing rights organization. The message he got from them, he says, is: "They're going to come after podcasters. And they're going to shut them down." That alone caused a lot of music podcasters to sit up and pay attention. Any coordinated offensive by the recording industry to squelch unlicensed content would leave us with a huge fight on our hands, one that would touch Apple, Yahoo, and many of the companies in the nascent podcasting industry.

The outcome of that incident is a conversion for Curry and his show. "We do not want these guys descending on us and making trouble," he says. So from now on, Curry will only be playing music licensed through the Podsafe Music Network, run by his company, Podshow. No longer will the Hit Test, Backtracks, or other uses of non-podsafe music be found on the Daily Source Code. He has also removed old episodes that contained such content.

So the Podfather has been squeezed by the recording industry. Why now? Is it because he now has a wider distribution than many terrestrial DJs? Do they want leverage for future negotiations on a podcasting license? Or are they just a little late in trying to knife the baby? Who will be next to drop non-podsafe music from their show? Are any of the alternate licensing models floating around ready to challenge or supplant the existing industry titans?

The questions come in a steady stream from there: are they emboldened now that they have in Podshow a company worth suing? And what's the role of, say, the RIAA in all this? Are they merely watching with interest to see how this plays out, or will we see them stepping up the rhetoric as well?

On the podcasters Yahoo Group, Dave Jackson assesses the state of things succinctly: "You must be this tall to piss off the RIAA." Well said. Podcasting isn't quite grown up yet, but it's been standing in line at the amusement park, and it's soon to be in for the ride of its life.

There'll be lots more talk about this situation at the Portable Media Expo this Friday. I'll be on a panel along with CC Chapman, Gerd Leonhard, Derrick Oien, and Kelli Richards talking about the future of music licensing. See you there.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: News and Commentary

Curry Clash at Podcast Expo

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Posted by Alex Williams

What's the deal with Adam Curry and Tim Bourquin? I just read the Wired article about a feud between the two over the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. Curry is even threatening to do an un-expo event at a nearby hotel.

All of this is so common when events like the Portable Media Expo take a life of their own. The first ever podcasting trade show is expecting more than 2,500 people from 22 countries. It's grown beyond Tim's expectations.

Curry's flaming the trail to the expo with overtures by his spokesman of outright extortion. That's pretty heavy stuff. What it comes down to is Curry's huge presence in the podcasting wold and Bourquin's work to attract sponsors. Curry is not expected to speak at the conference. His company, , is not sponsoring the event.

From Wired:

Although Curry plans to attend the show, he has declined to speak at it or sponsor it. And now he is threatening to hold an impromptu "un-expo" at a nearby hotel, where podcasters may be invited to discuss potential promotional deals with his company,, Curry spokesman Aaron Burcell told Wired News on Tuesday.

"They've been trying to back us into a huge sponsorship by saying we're not supportive of the expo, that we're this and that," Burcell said. "But we have a lot of podcasters who are part of the Portable Media Expo and we've been very supportive. It's not wise to try to extort the company that's been most supportive of the podcasting community."

Burcell accused convention organizer Tim Bourquin of retaliating against Curry for refusing to sponsor the trade show or to speak at it. He also alleged that Bourquin had been bad-mouthing Curry and his company to podcasters who belong to a PodShow stable of talent known as the Pod Squad.

These are forces at play. You have the power of Podshow and Curry's Pod Squad. On the other hand, you have the massive popularity of podcasting and the excellent work Tim has done to put together an event that is drawing international attention.

Curry is popular but he's not a king. He calls himself the "podfather," which can be interpreted as symbolic representation of a mix between organized crime and the Catholic church, which I am still trying to grasp in its meaning and symbolism. But that's for another day.

Bourquin, for his part, is attracting sponsors to participate in an event. This is how he makes money. But the problem is that sometimes the efforts to get quality speakers is clouded by the need to give sponsors their own speaker slots. That's a problem at most conferences. It's a big reason why Dave Winer first organized Bloggercon with the mandate that sponsors were not invited to the game. What results out of all this is a new breed of get togethers that spring up around large events and also form indpendently. BarCamp emerged as an alternative to FooCamp, Tim O'Reilly's annual get together. Other unconferences have emerged, including TagCamp and the most recent Mind Camp.

It's a big game, really. But all in all, the Podcast Expo looks great. And no matter what, this is going to be a conference to remember. And as usual, the side shows will be great entertainment.

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November 07, 2005

Has podcasting entered mainstream too fast?

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Posted by Nicole Simon

One reason I am looking forward to results and buzz from the Portable Media Expo? Because I think podcasting as a movement needs a refuel on the spirit which started podcasting because it did go mainstream too fast. In just a few months, big players (like Yahoo and iTunes) integrated podcasting into their standard tool set.

Not that mainstream is a bad thing in general: Podcasting has fetched bigger interest from everyday people than blogs have. People do say how much more they react to sound (and also photo and video) than just to text. The press has done big coverage and is already on their second (third?) round of interviewing podcasters. So this is a success, right?

Not quite. The huge demand on listener side for "not this radio stuff but much better delivered for free as often as I want it"-content as well as thousands of people willing to produce this kind of content - all of this could go together perfectly. At least if the people involved knew how to handle this rushed success both on production as on the content side.

If podcasting would be just a hype, nobody would feel sorry about it - because then it would just be a hype which is replaced by something new. But if you take a closer look at the amount of work, resources and passion people are investing into those wonderful podcasts, you know how much of an impact this has on peoples lives.

From a producing side, I see two main issues here: how to make better, more efficient produced podcasts (which includes every aspect of production from concept work till music choice and clearing of rights) and how to find your own voice.

Interestingly, the people who could help out, are 'old media' - trained in the content media business, with years of knowledge, contacts, and professional equipment. Because first of all it is a distributing technique, second a way of having content in a new format and three produce content very cost effective to a world-wide audience.

With their knowledge, it should be fairly easy to embrace a new technology like this and help it evolve. Instead we see (generally speaking) small baby steps and they seem satisfied to write podcasting somewhere on their website.

Podcasters on the other hand are facing huge demands from their listeners - about quality, frequency, and content. What may have started as a fun hobby can soon turn into "just another show on the market". At which point a podcaster just might stop doing it because it lost it's charm.

When I ask if podcasting has gone mainstream to fast, I am asking kind of if it has grown up too fast: from a newborn over some kindergarten time and pre-teen directly to being 21 with just some job - and no fun time being a teenager with ways to experiment and get confident about who you are and what you can do.

Perhaps it is time to scale back a bit for many podcasters and remember: Nobody is forcing you. This is supposed to be fun. Nobody has the right to demand perfect production in whatever frequency they think you 'have' to do it.

Does it still make you happy or would you like to experiment a bit because you feel trapped? This is podcasting. You make the rules. It may get a bit bumpy and you might loose some of your audience, but try to look at it this way: if you are not a happy podcaster, the listeners will notice - and leave anyway.

[And a suggestion for the listeners: Think about what you are expecting from the podcasters you are listening to. And try to come up with a reason for yourself why they should fulfill your expectation.]

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (2) | Category: News and Commentary

Whirlpool: Making Connections With The American Family

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Posted by Alex Williams

Are you looking for what is the latest with Whirlpool dishwashers? Then Whirlpool's "The American Family" is is not your podcast.

The American Family podcast centers on issues that are affecting people in all walks of life. Whirlpool brand's director of consumer insight, Audrey Reed-Granger, moderates the podcast. She interviews people over the phone, talking with them about their experiences such as raising children of divorce; first-time moms and parents of children with special needs.

Glad they took the approach they did. It's a good example for corporations looking to get into podcasting. The podcast is simply sponored by Whirlpool Home Appliances. They have a short promo spot at the start and end of the show. They don't talk about dishwashers or home appliances in the interviews. The podcast centers on issues family's face. Better, these are interviews with parents, people with families. I have not heard any commentary from experts in the shows I've heard. Seems like a smart way to connect with people and get their minds on the Whirlpool brand when they are thinking about that new home appliance.

Just one thing, Whirlpool...Can you add a blog so we can comment about the podcasts? Even better, offer a way we can leave audio comments that you add into the show? Right now, it just seems a bit one way.

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November 06, 2005

Fruitcast and the Future of Feed Media

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Posted by Alex Williams

Fruitcast is a new service that lets advertisers automatically serve ads into podcasts submitted to the Fruitcast directory.

Advertisers are charged per download for the spots that are added either at the beginning or end of the podcast. Ads are 10 to 15 seconds in length. No music or sound effects permitted. Advertisers are encouraged to follow a set format such as..."This podcast is sponsored by Acme Widgets....."

The Fruitcast service is aiming to provide a Google AdSense type model. It's illustrative of the moving speed that different forms of feed media are gaining a place for how advertising is served.

Fred Wilson touches on this issue in his post: The Future of Media (aka, please take my RSS feed):

Leaving aside the rights issues, which I know are large, if I were a television executive right now, I'd take my content, microchunk it, put a couple calls to a video ad server in the middle of it, and let it go whereever it wants to go, safe in the knowledge that whenever the show is viewed, I'll get to run a couple 15 second spots in the middle of it (which I could change whenever I wanted to and which I could measure).

This is where media is going and its not going to be stopped.

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November 05, 2005

Dear Liz, RSS Is For Rockers

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Posted by Alex Williams

Liz -- Sigh. Still no RSS feed. I'm crushed. Perhaps if you ever see the beauty of that orange and white icon you'll write one of those edgy ballads like Polyester Bride. Maybe it'll be about how you met someone new. What you discovered. The other world that slips into your self as you become more and more immersed in the stories, the sadness and the absurdity of the bigger picture.

We need rockers. Dave is cool. He's definitely the original RSS rock star. But, let's just say... it's a bit different with you. Yes, Dave does sing. He goes on tour. He podcasts. He's a jolly geek.

But you, you're a rocker. And rockers know how events can change their lives and the people they love. And that orange and white icon iis full of events that lead to new places in your mind and your heart.

Who knows what song it will make you want to sing. Who knows what you will write. And how many will find a new connection after hearing your podcast for the first time.. I'll tell you this. This fan will love it.

Really, Liz, RSS is for Rockers.

Always here to help.


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November 04, 2005

Liz Phair, Where's Your RSS Feed?

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Posted by Alex Williams

Liz --I'm heart broken. Read the comments. No RSS to be found with your podcasts. I look and I look, but it's not there, a missing icon, a sign in orange and white. I subscribed to your podcast in iTunes. But that's not the same. That's a different world. Popular, yes, but so many other spaces to reach. I mean, in Yahoo!'s podcast directory you're there but I can't subscribe to your show. No one can. Yahoo! is even confused. Here's their message:

Hmmm. We didn't find any series like "liz phair", but we did find some episodes!

You're not even number one on the Yahoo! list. I can listen to you through their flash player or download your show. But subscribe I can not do. Add that RSS feed and a door will open to a place on the web where people can find you, susbcribe and follow your journey, meeting the people, hearing your laugh and the sounds of a band on the road. You could even try BitTorrent so handy for subsribing to all those music videos I watched tonight on your web site.

Liz, people are asking for the feed. I see you'll be in Portland at the Crystal Ballroom on Nov. 13. I'd be happy to bring all my geek buddies on by and show you and your band how easy RSS can be. We can do a podcast. We'll show you the power of that little orange and white icon. Subscribers are waiting. The nice thing is, they won't be disappointed. You have an entertaining show. It's fresh, from out on the road.

Always glad to help,


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November 03, 2005

Sony PSP Announces Podcast Support

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Posted by Alex Williams

Podcasting News reports:

Sony Media Software has announced PSP Media Manager, software for the PC that lets users move content from their personal computer to their PSP (PlayStation Portable) system. Podcasts and video podcasts can be downloaded and encoded for PSP playback.

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NPR Podcasting Downloads Reach 4 Million

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Posted by Alex Williams


PaidContent has a post that NPR podcasts have reached 4 million downloads in nearly two months since their launch on August 31.

From PaidContent:

According to NPR tracking, its most-downloaded daily podcast is "Story of the Day," a news report or feature chosen by NPR staff, and its top weekly podcast is the "All Songs Considered" feature, an extension of the popular online-only program that highlights artists, reviews, interviews and other music content.

Acura is one of the main sponsors of the NPR podcasts. It is reported to be the biggest podcast advertising deal to date.

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Don't miss the Woot podcast

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Posted by Matt May

Woot, the site that's half the reason I stay up until 10pm most nights in hope of a deal on one of the three techno gadgets I haven't already bought, has a podcast feed detailing the one item they're selling that day. The Woot blog has details.

I know what you're thinking: so what?

Here's the thing: it is hilarious. Seriously. They're producing a song for each item they sell. It's the funniest stuff I've heard in podcast form since the last Jonathan Coulton album. For example, here is a partial transcript from their podcast for today's item, which extols the virtues of the ruggedized Rio Cali MP3 player:

Well, I dropped it on the floor, and I sat on it and kicked it/and I threw it down the stairs, and I spat on it and flicked it/and then I took it waterskiing/and then I tossed it in a local zoo's ape pen, where I briefly lost it/I retrieved it and shaved it and made it wear a skirt/and then I microwaved it and buried it in dirt

These guys make Crazy Eddie look like His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Discover the Woot podcast.

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November 02, 2005

Chicago Blackhawks Start Podcasting

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Posted by Alex Williams

Back a few months ago, Matt wrote about how podcasting could help the National Hockey League restore its image after last season's cancellation due to a player strike.

The Chicago Blackhawks seem to understand that a podcast adds a bit more to the standard fare you find on a sports team web site. And so they launched Hawkcast.

The weekly show features both audio and video with interviews, game highlights and news such as scouting reports. According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

The results are encouraging. The first podcasts averaged about 1,000 downloads, and the most recent shows are downloaded twice as often. More importantly, 25 percent of the people who download the podcasts are subscribers. People sign up for the podcasts at the Blackhawks' Web site.

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November 01, 2005

BitTorrent For Dummies

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Posted by Alex Williams

A review copy of BitTorrent Dummies arrived in my mail box today. Written by Susannah Gardner and Kris Krug, the book is a designed as a reference for using BitTorrent to share and download massive files that are now becoming so much more common with the advent of audio and video on the web.

How does BitTorrent apply to podcasting? What BitTorrent may do is permit us to create our own subscriber based Internet TV stations, post high resolution documentaries or even feature films that you subscribe to using BitTorrent.

I'll write more about BitTorrent For Dummies in the next week. In the meantime, one of the bext examples I've run across about BitTorrent and its applications comes from the Participatory Culture Foundation, which offiers the Broadcast Machine. What Moore is talking about is the natural fit that comes with media and shared, collective networks. That to me is the power of BitTorrent. But is it difficult to use? I've been intrigued by video podcasts as of late. I guess this is opportunity to start posting a few video shorts, using the principles about BitTorrent I learn in the book. We'll see how it goes.

From the Apple Blog's interview with David Moore:

BitTorrent is a pillar of our internet TV platform, precisely because it makes it affordable to broadcast really amazing video. With bittorrent, you don’t need to be a huge broadcaster anymore to be able to reach millions of people… that’s what makes internet TV such an exciting medium and such a level playing field.

Our Broadcast Machine bittorrent publishing software offers that kind of scalability, so that whether you’re publishing video just to your family or to hundreds of thousands of viewers, you don’t have to worry about high bandwidth costs. In that way, even though we sometimes use the analogy that internet TV is like “podcasting for video,” there’s a fundamental difference between self-publishing audio and video. Creators could probably afford to publish a high-quality podcast via HTTP download on their website. But they couldn’t necessarily afford to do the same for a long, high-resolution video — which is why bittorrent is such an important part of the equation. If you’re a documentary filmmaker and you want to put high-resolution video out there, bittorrent is by far the most affordable way of doing it. Or if you simply want to broadcast a video blog from your living room, bittorrent is a way to do it with peace of mind that it’s virtually free.

Internet TV is still an emerging medium, so there will be a lot more publishing and viewing options to come. What we’re working on with Broadcast Machine and DTV is to ensure that there’s a free and open-source platform available to users, that’s built on open-standards like BitTorrent, RSS, and VLC. As we’ve seen with Mozilla’s products, often times the open-source applications are able to take the lead, and we think that’s the best-case scenario for internet TV.

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