Harold Gilchrist on the Birth of Podcasting

Harold Gilchrist has been doing an investigative reporter style series of posts about aspects of podcasting that predate the commonly understood “birth date” last summer. I am more than happy to shift the credit over to him, and change the “Adam Curry invented it” story to the “Harold Gilchrist (or whomever) invented it, Adam Curry popularized it” story.

Where Harold loses me is with the conspiracy theory crap, implying that there is some sort of organized effort to keep things hush hush about the prior art. I can tell you that I’m not actively trying to supress stuff I had never heard of before yesterday, like the program Enclosure Extractor. I will note that he seems to think this trumps iPodder, but it doesn’t seem to have the one feature of that script that is the most important, automatically adding the downloaded audio into iTunes or WMP for lights-out syncing with a device. This particular gun may not be smoking as much as he thinks. Who has claimed that iPodder was the first thing that ever downloaded enclosures? It’s the “last yard” handling that was the tiny wrinkle that changed everything for me.

Where I think he is probably actively wrong is his insinuations that Curry plagiarized or somehow took responsibilty for the work of Kevin Marks. I know nothing specifically about the goings on there but I tried to hack on Adam’s original iPodder Applescript. No disrespect to him, but I can’t imagine that coming from the hand of an experienced programmer. Frustration with working on it led to me writing the act-alike get_enclosures Perl script. I thought Adam told the story in his show how he tried to previously get things written that would do this functionality and couldn’t get anything working from the programmers so he sat down with the manuals and learned enough Applescript to write it. If I remember from his weblog, it took him several weeks to write this few hundred line script. None of that story seems implausible to me.

So Harold, once you made all this public of this I blogged about it. Now what?

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

7 thoughts on “Harold Gilchrist on the Birth of Podcasting”

  1. Nicole Simon says:

    I’m sorry, but every time a guy comes up screaming “I was there first! Bow to my wisdom” I loose every bit of respect for such a person.

    There is a difference between stating facts and whining.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Evil Genius Chronicles – Harold Gilchrist on the Birth of Podcasting

  3. Yeah, yeah, and I had code in February of 2004 that parsed the RSS 2.0 feeds with enclosures that Doug Kaye of IT Conversations was producing, and downloaded the MP3 enclosures and dropped them in a folder where an AppleScript action loaded them into iTunes. Where’s my prize? Seriously though, podcasting was/is the combination of a number of existing technologies, *and* the coming together of a group of people, a community, interested it making it happen and *working together* to make it happen. Dave W., Adam, Mr. Slusher, me, and plenty of other people. No one person could have done this, unless they wanted to create the content, then write code to automate downloading their own content. Sheesh…

    Oh, and I know Adam gets a lot of credit, but face it, the media gives him most of the credit, and I’m sure – to some degree – it’s because it makes a good story, and he’s a celebrity. I don’t think he’s out there claiming to be the sole creator of this thing. I like to think I played some part in the birth of podcasting, but I ain’t losing any sleep over no one else thinking that’s the case…

  4. The main purpose of my reporting was to shine some light on the pioneer technologists in the audioblogging community that the media story never brought into the story. ie. Kevin Marks and the author of “Enclosure Extractor”.

    How do I know they contributed? In October 2003, on Dave Winer’s invitation, I led an Audioblogging session at BloggerCon 1 where I demostrated creating audioblog posts with RSS enclosures (complete process was considered audioblogging at the time), the Windows program “Enclosure Extractor” (which I use everyday to automatically load mp3s directly onto my USB flash mp3 player – also has feature to let you choose what mp3’s you really want)and witnessed Kevin’s contribution.

    I also never said anyone plagiarized or somehow took responsibilty of someone else’s work. I clearly stated that Kevin said he was working with Adam (not in attendence but at another session at conference) on “SyncPod”. My question was why is Kevin never mentioned or given any credit?

    You must recognize when you branded the name in the press based on the new community that was forming and the features that were being added to audioblogging the branding of some of the basic technology also got renamed.

    Because of the “new branding” of the technology you wound of losing the tracings and links to it’s audioblogging origins. That is really why David never new about “Enclosure Extractor”. If he searched on Podcasting he would never find it and if I never brought it up you probably would never know about it.

    I am not saying you intentionally did this or caused this confussion but this is what happened. Ask 3 people in the podcasting community to explain the difference between audioblogging and podcasting authoring and you will see what I mean.

    Believe it or not there was a small audioblogging community at work slowly brewing before 6 months ago. Timing is everything and I applaud Adam for everything he did. My intentions were never to take anything thing away from the hard work he did and continues to do. I just would like to see the Podcasting story linking back to some of it’s Audioblogging history before the branding in the media forks away the audioblogging history forever.

    NY Time yesterday – “Enthusiasts of all sorts are creating their own broadcasts on computers and then posting them to a Web site.”

    Question: Is the above audioblogging or podcasting? Your answer would be different based on who you ask.

    My point! The difference it to complicated to argue. At the end of the day everyone is really a member of the same basic camp amd the differences are really just features.

    Note: I porposely removed the words ” or podcasts” out of the above quote to make my point. The real quote was “Enthusiasts of all sorts are creating their own broadcasts, or “podcasts” on computers and then posting them to a Web site.”

  5. Dave says:

    Harold, fair enough. I should point out that I’ve never claimed that audioblogging didn’t exist. The only audioblog I paid any attention to was Chuck Palahniuk’s, which I followed faithfully as far back as jeez – fall 2002 or spring 2003? Why don’t I credit Chuck with inspiration for my podcasting? Becuase he wasn’t. Even though I enjoyed listening to his phone messages while he was on his publicity tour (and heard the infamous one where he came out of the closet) nothing about that inspired me to do the same. Same thing with Winer’s Coffee Notes. I heard the one where he was shutting down weblogs.com (one of the only two or three I’ve ever listened to) and nothing about that made me think “Hey, I should do this too.” However, hearing the Daily Source Code did. So, I don’t consider I’ve done anything wrong. I have cited in my writings and when I talk to the press that the DSC was my inspiration for beginning, because that is how it went for me. No disrespect to you, Harold, and not disputing that you were in this for years before me – you were not in any way inspirational for me. It was only after getting in to the “podcast” era and having done my show for a while that I ever heard of you.

    There is a reason why I don’t use the term “audioblog” to describe what I do anymore, because I got tired of audioblogging proponents giving me shit about not giving enough respect to that community. More power to everyone who does the “recording from a phone” unproduced style of audio verite, but I don’t consider that having a whole lot in common with what I’m doing. You can have the term, you can have the credit, I don’t consider this an audioblog and actively discourage having the term associated with me. That’s what I call what I do “the clambake” rather than an audioblog.

    If the deal is to reestablish some synonymity between “podcasting” and “audioblogging”, I have to disagree strongly with that. The former describes a distribution mechanism, the latter a style of audio. All the IT Conversations stuff that Doug Kaye records are podcasts but are not audioblogs. I don’t consider this an audioblog. Eric Rice usually does stuff that I do consider audioblogs but distributes them via podcasts.

    Next time I have an opportunity to talk to a reporter, I’ll mention your name. That is, unless my 15 minutes have already ticked down and that doesn’t happen again.

    So, here’s a question for you Harold – while you are doing all this and you are concerned about the proper people getting the credit, why haven’t you added any of this to the Wikipedia article? That would probably go much farther towards setting the record straight than doing 100 posts on your own weblog. Many folks are using that entry as the canonical place for the definition and history. You have the power to adjust the historical record, so you should go do that.

  6. … “Eric Rice usually does stuff that I do consider audioblogs but distributes them via podcasts”

    Exactly!! and when he does as you described all he has to do is enable the podcasting feature of (RSS 2.0 enclosures) Audioblogging. Simple! You see, in the Audioblogging space we see podcasting as just a optional feature. Maybe Eric can chime in here on how he enables podcasting on his service.

    There is already some technical synonymity by definition.

    You see “podcasting” and “audioblogging” both use weblog distribution mechanisms for distributing audio files on the web.

    Audioblogging uses the weblog post and RSS 2.0 feeds with enclosures to distribute an audio file. While podcasting also uses the weblog post and RSS 2.0 feeds with enclosures to distribute a media file (even though audio is primarily used today, I’m not really sure if it is limited to audio or if that has been defined or even being discussed).

    The main difference lies in the fact that in Audioblogging, RSS 2.0 enclosures is an optional feature while in podcasting it is not. In podcasting the weblog post is an optional feature while in audioblogging it is not.

    Audioblogging software will probably just look at podcasting as a relabeling of a existing feature or additional feature if the software doesn’t already support RSS enclosures (a feature of Audioblogging that I have been asking phone to audioblog services to include with there service for years).

    Confussed! I am why shouldn’t everybody else be.

    The confusion started when Podcasting was defined as a style of audio (the radio show) tied to similiar distribution mechanisms used by an existing defined weblog based audio distribution method – Audioblogging.

    So what does this all mean:

    If you put an audio file link in a weblog post without including that audio file link in a RSS 2.0 feed enclosure, you are Audioblogging and maybe Podcasting. If you then include that same audio link in the RSS 2.0 feed enclosure, you are Audioblogging and Podcasting.

    The attributes of the audio file such as audio format, audio quality, style of the content are not defined in Audioblogging. As far as Podcasting goes, the style of the content has been tied so far to Radio style shows but nothing says that couldn’t change.

    I left some great links on my blog for you to trace some of the history of audioblogging back to the famous frenzy of 2002.

    If you need more help understanding the definition or origins of audioblogging let me know. I plan on doing a time line like I did on my contributions.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled program.


  7. Richard says:

    I found this link a bit late, Enclosure Extractor was developed by Lionhardt Technologies. At the time PodCasting wasn’t around as it is currently, the main idea behind writing Enclosure Extractor was to be able to pick up content unattended.

    Having said that, we haven’t been sitting quiet, and just released WebPod Studio. It allows you to create your own podcasts quick & easy.

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