Is it just me or are all the bubbles in the podcasting lather turning into a thin layer of slightly manky detergent on the surface of internet pond life? There was a spell last year, after iTunes first included podcast subscriptions, where the response to everything seemed to be "The solution is to start podcasting — now, what did you say the problem was?" This year there seems to be some sanity creeping into assessments of what podcasts might actually be good for.
Apparently the Ricky Gervais Show on Guardian Unlimited is going into the Guinness Book of Records as the most downloaded podcast. I subscribed to the podcast a few weeks ago, so I've helped contribute to the record, but I didn't get round to listening to one of the episodes until a couple of days ago. It was crap; like the Wayne's World cable broadcasts, but without the irony. As with most podcasts, I didn't get to the end.Continue reading "Is the dust settling on podcasting?"
E-learning figurehead Elliott Masie is offering a wide range of podcasts in connection with the current Learning 2005 conference in Florida. In keeping with the reflexive tradition of the medium, this includes a podcast about podcasting…
The implementation of the podcasts is as professional as you'd expect: there's an option to play the audio with a Flash player (courtesy of Audioblog.com, as explained in the how-to-podcast feature), and there's a PDF transcript of all the audio.
Paradoxically, it's the availability of the transcript that draws attention to the limitations of the medium.Continue reading "E-learning podcasts and the wonders of transcripts"
In the last year or two, the concept of martini media — 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere' access to whatever audio and video you feel like — has shifted from being a vision of a possible future to being an almost taken-for-granted inevitability. The speed with which it comes about will be slowed by the friction of dealing with rights-holders' concerns (some valid, some less so), but momentum will nevertheless bring it about in the end.
Hence I've not really been keeping up with my collection of harbingers of martini media; they are too many and various these days. What brings me back is another radio-related technology: the Griffin iFill software, which fills up your mp3 player with recordings from online radio stations. (Last year, Griffin produced the hardware-based radio SHARK, which provides some of the same functions for AM and FM radio.)Continue reading "Recording online radio vs. podcasts"
Bob Dylan album sales have registered a tenfold increase in the wake of the Dylan documentary produced by PBS and the BBC. With windfalls like that, it's not surprising that major and independent record labels are getting into the business of making their own documentaries and features.
Mute is among the early UK labels starting to offer podcasts related to its releases. And Universal is reported to be making its own TV documentary 'infomercials' to help sell box sets of its catalogue.Continue reading "Record labels make their own documentaries"
When the latest version of iTunes, with new functionality to hear podcasts, was launched at the end of June, an Apple spokesman was quoted saying "We've tried to include as many [podcasts] as possible" in the iTunes directory, and, "We're not trying to be the gatekeeper of podcasting". But by having and policing a directory of podcasts on one of the most popular locations for hard-disk-based MP3 players, Apple is de facto a significant gatekeeper, if not the gatekeeper.
As iTunes v4.9 was launched the day after the US Supreme Court's ruling about companies that 'promote infringement' of copyright — presumably this timing was a coincidence — you can understand why Apple would want to avoid any shadow of a doubt by ensuring that their software does not list podcasts that might infringe rights.Continue reading "iTunes an unreliable gatekeeper for podcasts?"
It's almost exactly a year since I posted my review of BBC 6 Music as a learning resource on this site, and nearly eight months since I commented on the disappearance of some of the web resources from the 6 Music web site. Now 6 Music has begun a weekly podcast of speech highlights from its programmes as part of the BBC's download trial, so it seems a good time to review what's changed.Continue reading "BBC 6 Music podcasts and learning"
The use of music in podcasts is a legal grey area, but there are an increasing number of tools and services that make it easier to source music legally, usually from 'unsigned' artists, creating a genuinely grassroots channel for independent music and musicians.
The reason for the doubts over the legal status of music podcasting is that, in terms of format, podcasts emulate radio programming, but technically they are downloads. While rights owners may be in favour of the exposure they get from radio-style features, they don't want podcasts to give listeners 'permanent' versions of their music, which could cannibalise sales. In the US, the collecting society ASCAP updated its Internet licensing to make allowance for podcasts. Though this might have given the impression that podcasters just had to obtain this once licence to make their work legitimate, the situation remains more complex for 'standard' copyright music — see the articles podcasting, music and the law and legality of using music in podcasts remains foggy.
So, as it stands, music podcasters appear to have four options available.Continue reading "Creating legal independent music podcasts"
I met Graham Stewart a few months ago in connection with some online social networking developments. Graham's very active in building, and experimenting with, social software. His latest endeavour (with Neil McEvoy) is the Bootstrap Network, a "self-organising community of Internet entrepreneurs seeking to collaborate and create new business ventures". (For geeks, the Bootstrap Network, like Ecademy, is written in Drupal.)
Graham recorded an interview with me, posted in his Bootstrap Network blog, which covers some thoughts on online learning, and on music-related learning resources with particular reference to podcasting. The interview was done over the phone, so please excuse some of the awkward pauses and less-than-articulate mumblings.
Last week's MusicWeek had a article about UBC Media preparing to offer listeners to some of its digital (DAB) radio stations the opportunity to download the songs they broadcast. I can't find the exact story on the web, but here's a feature on similar developments in radio, which details the lower data bandwidth available with DAB, by comparison with broadband Internet.
Leaving aside concerns about commercial radio programming becoming even more narrow in its playlist range (playing just the songs most likely to sell), a radio download service presents a further blurring in the way people listen to and control their music. What was previously an unpredictable stream of music has an on-demand element added. This form of radio becomes another data-point on the spectrum of control I outlined previously:
The coverage of this press release on the positive response to the BBC's podcasting experiment — see my November posting mentioning the experiment — shows that podcasting is still making the 'novelty' news, but some continue to confuse its implications.
This Digital-Lifestyles feature concludes, "The impact of this form of distribution will be significant. The barriers to anyone having their own radio station are removed. Of course, any form of enclosure can be catered for, including video. Beware broadcast TV, look out TiVo." I don't have a TiVo, but as I understand it podcasting offers few if any features not built into TiVos or other personal video recorders.
More significantly, podcasting does not remove the significant barriers to anyone having their own radio station, at least not if it includes music or other copyrighted material. Publishing podcasts that includes copyrighted music is equivalent to uploading it to a blog or peer-to-peer service, and subject to the same risks of legal action.Continue reading "Where broadcasting blurs into downloading"
A couple of weeks ago I speculated about podcasting breaking out of traditional radio and journalism models to find new applications. Since then, I've found that many people are ahead of me in thinking about applications, particularly to learning.
I first came across Podcasting for Education by D'Arcy Norman, which makes some suggestions for using podcasts for lectures, interviews and similar audio resources. A couple of days ago, Steve Sloan started his Edupodder weblog, and in his first posting there, he mentions support for learners with reading or other learning difficulties, and multilingual education, among other possibilities.Continue reading "iPods, podcasting and learning"
Podcasting enables you to subscribe to regularly updated audio material, and then take it with you on your MP3 player and listen to it when it suits you (the term podcasting is clearly derived from iPods, but the practice is not limited to them). As such, it's a combination and application of technologies that gives another glimpse forwards of 'martini media' — being able to listen to (and, to a lesser extent, watch) your selected tracks or programming 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere'. I don't know the difference between 'anyplace' and 'anywhere' either, but you get the idea. Here's a Wired News article on podcasting, with further links and examples.
In the same way that RSS feeds allow people to track and read multiple text-based web sites through one interface, podcasting offers the promise of subscribing to multiple audio programmes through one device. In fact, podcasting depends on the latest version of RSS to 'enclose' the audio files. Right now it's a little geeky to implement, and your MP3 player has to be linked to a PC with a broadband connection while it updates. But clearly with time (less than five years?) plus a little workaday graft — no miracle innovations required — that could be turned into something easy and foolproof to use, updated by high-speed wireless connection direct to the player.
Here's a re-cap of some of the other harbingers of martini media that I've been collecting, followed by more details of podcasting.Continue reading "Podcasting: another harbinger of martini media"