43 Folders Podcast, Standards and Fragmentation

I read 43 Folders in NetNewsWatcher and I subscribed via iPodderX when I saw that Merlin began doing podcasts. This evening, whilst in doing some poking around in iPodderX I realized that I’ve never actually received any of the MP3s that I see posted. I looked at his RSS feed. Hey, none of those things actually has the enclosure element. They do have some links to some Odeo and iTunes bullshit, but nothing that works via the standard pathways. This might be just an oversight or a check box in the wrong position in Feedburner when Merlin set it up. If it isn’t, and there is some sort of thing that makes this work in Odeo and iTunes but nothing else, then that is bad bad bad.

In fact, that was the kind of eventuality that made me feel queasy when Odeo showed up to the party and later iTunes – the feeling that they would come to the party late, decide the music sucks and that everyone should be dancing to their tune. With iTunes, I felt and feel this is exactly what they did. When there was a pre-existing transparent open standard way for all publishers and receivers to communicate, they slapped it in their opaque silo. Kiss my ass. Remember back when the whole “embrace and extend” thing was mainly coming from Microsoft? In podcasting, it seems to be the standard play for any company of any heft.

To this point, 14 months after entering the world of podcasting, I haven’t really done any vendor specific things. I have no iTunes tags (although if there was some sort of “fuck you” tag, I might think about it). I haven’t Odeo enabled or claimed my feed or whatever you do with them. In fact, I don’t even know how you work Odeo and I have a hard time caring. I got an email from the Podcast Pickle guy saying that I’m not in their directory and only the feed owner can add themselves – I haven’t even done that. I don’t really even want to begin this game, because it never ends.

There are hundreds of players that want to come in this space and make money by their “long tail-centric integration of niche media buzzword buzzword blah blah.” If every player that comes in wants me to do something special for them, then they can collectively bite me. I find the idea of doing extra work (even a small amount of it) in order to add value to your company an uncompelling proposition. The reason this whole thing works is because of the standard mechanism for publishing and subscribing. Use them, and don’t expect me and 10,000 other podcast publishers (and climbing) to each do N amount of work * every new company that comes slouching into the gold rush. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it. There is no crying in baseball.