In the clambake I talked about that episode of Webtalk Radio and Mitch Ratcliffe’s addendum. I want to capture this point in text. Those guys and others are missing the point. Here’s how they hear the elevator pitch:
Podcasting is Downloadable! Audible! Content! that can be subscribed to and automatically appears on your device of choice
whereas here is how I hear the elevator pitch:
Podcasting is downloadable audible content that can be Subscribed! To! and Automatically! Appears! on your device of choice
That it is audible isn’t the big deal. That I can put my iPod Shuffle in a USB port and without any thought or effort have 10 hours of the podcasts I have previously subscribed to magically appear on it is unbelievably huge! Like I said in the show, I used to use AvantGo and Plucker to have web pages waiting for me on my Handspring device. What they are doing is the equivalent of dismissing that as an innovative mode because of the prior existence of web content. Your em-PHA-sis is on the wrong syl-LAB-le.
There is another important difference between podcasting and streaming that didn’t occur to me until after the episode was in the can. Because podcasting is driven entirely by XML files and audio files that come from standard HTTP, anyone can do this with any commodity hosting in a few minutes. Hell, you could use that webspace that comes with your cable modem or DSL (I’ve never used any of that. Have you?) You absolutely cannot create an MP3 file or a RealAudio file and have it streamed on any commodity account in a few minutes. You need a special server and to handle a load of more than a certain amount you need to beef up the processor and/or bandwidth. There is an entirely different order of magnitude involved with getting rolling. That’s why we have new people coming to the party as listeners and creators in droves. It’s the difference between having all automobiles arriving as kit cars vs being able to drive one off the dealer’s lot ready to go. In the former case only certain people with certain skills and/or resources get to drive, in the latter case almost anyone can.
To claim the previously existing world of streaming is equivalent to the present world of podcasting is to fail to appreciate how low the ante to the game has fallen, and to fail to appreciate how important that is to people starting to play.