Don Katz on Podcasting

Yesterday I listened to Rob Greenlee’s interview with Don Katz of I remain kind of befuddled by Rob’s approach to the podcasting world. He cannot talk about the subject without trying to point out that aspects of it existed previously, to the point that it has become a tic. It’s like he’s on a crusade to point out the injustice of people’s current interest and excitement in the subject and must try to deflate that. Good luck holding back that tide.

As time goes on, I find that part of the conversation has sank to the bottom of what interests me – exactly who did what first. Who gives a shit, really? What matters more to me is what has happened with the people doing it currently, which no matter how you slice it did not happen before last summer. That’s the thing I always think when someone wants credit for doing X aspect of podcasting Y years ago. No matter how true that is, that work on X didn’t start the snowball rolling down the hill. It sucks to be too late and it sucks to be too early – sometimes only the people working at “steam engine time” get the hosannahs. Sorry about that dudes, life is so unfair. Maybe the day everyone else gets everything they deserve, that will get straightened out for you.

Don Katz talked in the interview about how Audible did things much like podcasting, but again that was via a centralized authority. Unless I misunderstand how it works, I can’t decide to publish arbitrary free shows into the Audible catalog. You get what Audible decides to carry. The claims in this show to the contrary, it lacks one of the important aspects of what we are calling podcasting, mainly that ordinary citizens have access to produce and publish into the automatic download infrastructure.

Over time I have noticed that people who are uncomfortable with the grassroots notion of podcasting are almost entirely people who benefit from the status quo in one way or another. That is not to say that people from the current system always dislike it, because plenty of media folks love the medium and/or use it, but the people whose objection is “I’m not sure if it is a good idea to give just anyone a microphone” almost always are. I’m starting to pay attention to when someone expresses that opinion and examine if they have some of the following riding on the status quo: their job, their money, their social status, their celebrity, their ego. It seems antithetical to me to say “I think fewer people should be able to express themselves.” If someone says that, are they in a position weakened by that ease of expression by citizens? If so, you might should pay attention to that and take their opinion with a grain of salt. As you should mine, I point out with I hope is superfluity.