Saturday, June 04, 2005

Richard Koman has a short story about technology for searching Podcasts. But he also notes : Makes you wonder if this podcast thing is more notable as an alternative distribution model for broadcasters than for grass-roots creativity.

ION RSS: Podscope enables fulltext searching of podcasts

Here's my take. Podcasting is not disruptive the way blogging is.

Remember, the defining features of "disruptive" are that

a) it's worse,


b) the incumbant leaders can't get into it because the structure of the market doesn't allow them to. (Customers don't want it.)

That's the nature of blogs with respect to mainstream media. Worse (no fact checking, editorial control.) And no business model. The kind of customers big media sells to (big advertisers) don't want to advertise on blogs and don't want to advertise the way people advertise on blogs (AdSense, no implicit editorial influence).

The people who do want to advertise on blogs were never big enough to be big media's customers in the first place.

So blogs quickly disupted from below.

Here's what's different about Podcast : granularity.

Blog posts have a different size, a different audience size and a different quality to big media. All of these make them alien to the media's customers.

Podcasts on the other hand are relatively leisurely. Between 20 - 40 minutes, the same size as a typical radio program. Their audience is (admitedly) small but downloads of the same technology : MP3 audio music files, is perceptably large. And most importantly podcasts are still fairly monolithic entities. It's hard to navigate within them, hard to hyperlink out of them, hard to hyperlink into them to reach only a specific paragraph.

Jon Udell is trying to solve this, but hyperlinking is not going to be part of the standard vocabulary of podcasters for some time. Maybe never, given that podcasts aren't a "lean forward" interactive medium like the web. They're something you more or less passively consume while driving or walking. Adverts will survive in podcasts.

In other words, they are extremely sustaining to the business model of advertiser driven radio. From the perspective of radio companies, MP3 over RSS is just another broadcast network that doesn't have many listeners, but is very cheap to set up and run (compared to buying a license for broadcast spectrum).

Not making shows available as podcasts is going to be nothing but laziness on the part of the radio networks.

Podcasts may disrupt conferences and online learning. But they won't disrupt commercial radio.

No comments: