Thursday, October 06, 2005

Week 11 Seminar: Podcasting: Revolutionising Radio?

“I have an expectation that I can pick a device up and pick any song that I want, so I get frustrated with radio when it doesn’t do that for me.”

“We’ve now got young people who have an expectation about how they’re going to consume their media, and they want to create their own experience, they want to take out the bad presenters, they want to take out the songs they don’t like, they want to take those adverts out.”

This week we are looking more closely at the growing phenomenon of podcasting, which might indeed satisfy just what was mentioned in the quotes above, which I would refer to as our never-ending appetite for something better. Basically, in podcast, a show is created using Really Simple Syndication (RSS), free publishing software that zaps files to users without their visiting a website and then is broadcast to subscribers PCs so it can be downloaded at their convenience to a mobile device. This means that anyone anywhere can string together a whole lot of music or sound clips and their own banter, and send the podcast out to anyone who subscribes. There is a debate over the survival of this phenomenon, with supporters arguing that podcasting will revolutionize broadcasting and the internet, to the extent that speeches were given warning broadcasters to be prepared for the age of personalized media. On the other hand, cynics argue that it is just a fad that will dissipate in no time.

This week’s readings are:

[X]ABC Radio National – Background Briefing: 31 October 2004 – 'Music of the Blogospheres' [Mp3 File] [Transcript]

[X] Circuits; In One Stroke, Podcasting Hits Mainstream -

[X] Stage two of the podcasting revolution -

[X]Purdue Plans Academic Podcasts -

[X]Trash guidebook, pack a podcast -

Here are some questions for you to consider while doing this week’s readings:

[X] Do you think that this fad of podcasting will last or dissipate in a short time? Why?

[X] Can you think of any other way other than the ones mentioned in the articles to make use of this revolutionizing technology?

[X] What distinguishes this technology from previous forms of technology?

[X] Do you have a favorite radio? Can it be substituted by podcast? Why?

[X] Do you think podcast is killing the traditional radio?

[X] What copyright issues do you suppose will arise as podcast gains momentum? How can it be solved?

[X] How would you respond to a criticism about podcasting saying ‘Why do I want to listen to amateur radio’?


Blogger Gwyneth said...

Hi Kaori, well done on your seminar! I thought the questions were great and you facilitated discussion very well. I was left with the impression that podcasting is definitely not going away anytime soon, and looks set to develop further through its introduction into the public sphere as well as the personal. The use of podcasting by education institutions and as tour guides for travelers seems like just the beginning. Imagine having your bus timetable updated to your ipod, or downloading cinema times, even local traffic warnings. It seems that the ipod, much like the mobile phone, will divorce information even further from geographical restrictions as individuals gain access to so much from any location. I did take Hilary's point however, about the potential to lose out upon social interaction due to the time spent with machines. Already many people spend more time on the computer than they do socializing, what would happen if ipods developed to allow complete online access to the same degree? This is probably a long way off, but it could be positive if it means individuals no longer have to be sitting in a darkened room in front of a computer to be online. Think how much easier those LAN parties will be when computers are pocket sized. My brother struggled off with what looked like his whole computer the other day... We already have laptops (well... I don't). Perhaps what I am imagining is an amalgamation of computer, mobile phone and ipod. I'd buy that in a second.

Thu Oct 13, 03:19:00 pm 2005  
Blogger Hilary said...

So first, lets just say that I don't think podcasting will lead to the end of radio. I think podcasting will continue to grow, and most definately not be considered one of the mere internet fads that come and go in a matter of months.
Radio has been losing listeners over the years, as was pointed out in the seminar, so I think its about time the medium had a makeover in the form of taking up new technology appropriate to its improvement and modernisation.
TV has taken advantage of digital technology to improve the availablility of programs to its customers, allowing flexibility in program schedules and other innovative features. But, Radio has consistently remained in the dark age. The mediums only forray into new technology was streaming audio on the net, but ultimately, this did little more than turn your computer in to yet another still restricted you to your computer screen, and, what with the limited internet speeds, often proved frustrating.
Now, podcasting may be what radio needs to get back on track. I tend to think of it as a sort of metamorphisis, not simply a better version of what was before...but something entirely new through transformation.
Tod Maffin, a CBC radio presenter in Canada had some views on podcasting
which he shared on his blog.
Podcasting's success lies in its ability to compensate for what traditional radio broadcasting lacks.
For a start its portable and not restricted to a preset time schedule. It can easily take advantage of those times when other media cannot succeed in reaching an audience, and thus this will attract advertising.
FUrthermore, its currently not restricted by specific station interests, and therefore can cater to a far greater range of listerners than radio. While it would be impossible for one station to have programs/music/news shows that catered for everyone, podcasting has unlimited ability in that these programs can still be found and organised in one place (and through itrip played on one station)with the resources of a greater variety of individual producers.
And this is another point, radio at times seems to lack in presenters that have a passion for what they do. THere are some great presenters, who have, by and large, been responsible for a radio stations success....but so many are now fabricted and constructed by marketing interests that listerners are now turned off.
In England, the famous radio presenter (and tv presenter) Terry Wogan was a key player in the success and viewability of both tv shows and radio shows. WHen he no longer gave an audio commentary for the EUrovision song contest, many were dissapointed and uninterested in a show that previously had provided them with humour and entertainment.
However, Podcasting needs to advance and mature in order to supply its listeners with presenters who have personality to keep their podcast on the top 100. Because it is a technology which anyone with a computer and internet connection can take advantage of or participate in, there are a lot of failed podcasts that just dont live up to scratch.
Podcasting has so much potential nevertheless to bring the focus back on audio and its uses. Education, such as iLectures, would be improved if every student could access them and download them to their ipod and of course, tv could even benefit with shows having a supportive commentary already available for their fans at the shows first tv airdate!!
Tourism could also offer new opportunities for audio that have previously remained untapped. THink of lonely planet guides available for your ipod, providing directions and tour options for the noivce traveller.
Yet, I think Podcasting has one major weakness, that is perhaps the greatest strength radio has. Geography. Radio stations are targeted specifically at the listerners within their own city/town/state, and this may be the personal touch that Podcasting is lacking. Listerners enjoy turning on the radio, and hearing about competitions such as the roadrunners or workplace requests, or the nova bug.
Copyright restrictions are of course another problem, but one I feel will be solved in the near future, as podcasting pioneers such as Adam Curry are already investigating into the possibilites and options available for everyday podcasters to have access to commercial music etc.
But in the meantime, podcasting's charm remains its rustic 'garage band' tunes, its new and nervous presenters who speak with a personal intimate touch in their homes/cars directly to you, and the specified fan based or nerd-centric podcasts such as 'The Signal' or 'Slasdot Review'.
THanks for the seminar Kaori, I think there was some great discussion produced by your questions, and the readings were interesting.

Sun Oct 16, 10:20:00 am 2005  
Blogger Hilary said...

Oh and lets not forget, with Apple's recently released Video Ipod...and its already built in support through iTunes and the Apple Music Store, it might not be long til Podcasts become not only audio files, but video files!
ANd from what I've heard on the Daily Source Code, this is yet more fuel to the podcasters fire!

Sun Oct 16, 10:24:00 am 2005  
Blogger Andrew said...

Yea I heard about the new video Ipod too. Way too cool ;)

I don't think podcasting are necessarily weak in the 'geographic' field. It is equally possible for podcasting to cater for a group of people, or a specific location (wouldn't be surprised if they create podcast on 'whats new in perth', if there's any) :P

Podcasting will definitely soar when they are more and more podcasts around. The true strength of podcasting is allowing specificity, flexibility and randomness to audio work. Listeners will be able to tuned in to exactly what they wanted to hear or interested about. Podcasting allow like-minded people to share their interests/concerns/rants/etc.

I believed internet access/connection will affect the development of podcasting, as while audio files is not as large as video files, it is still considerably large for dial-up users. A good clear audio podcast about 40 minutes duration is about 40-50mb; and for dialup it will probably be 1-2 hour to completely download the entire thing. That will surely discourage alot of people from listening to them.

Sun Oct 16, 10:42:00 pm 2005  
Blogger Liz said...

Hi all, I enjoyed the seminar Kaori. As for the future of podcasting, I think it is extremely difficult to predict how far its reach will be in popular culture. As a novice in all things techy, I think a lot of the potential of this medium as an entertainment form is dependant on how much effort and time people are willing to spend on searching for, and(as Andrew described) downloading podcasts and whether these processes will be made easier as technology develops. The easy-to-make nature of radio-style podcasts creates a veritable universe of shows which can also be tricky/frustrating for a potential listener to sift through until they find content and delivery (and language, and music?) they are happy with. For a casual listener, looking for a bit of distraction and light entertainment, this process may create some reluctance to engage with this particular new media form.

But does that mean that they will choose radio over podcasts? Can we compare the two forms (and their merit as popular entertainment), and their audiences? Although show-style podcasts undoubtedly evolved from the radio format, the listener's process of deciding what to listen to, and their formation of expectations relating to content, delivery and accessibility seems different for each medium. Eg. With podcasting, there's no casual twiddling of a knob to find something you like, but there's no real ability to listen back (unless you tape)to anything on radio. If a friend recommends a podcast to you, you can access the particular nugget that got your friend hooked in the first place and share that experience with them, whereas with radio you cannot readily access previous shows. (But I wonder if an fm radio show put a recorded show of comedians/announcers talking WITHOUT music, would that be considered a podcast?)

Anyhoo, in terms of the debate about whether podcasts and radio are robbing each other of audiences, I think these audiences would be looking for different things in each medium. (But I'm not suggesting that they're rigid/fixed or that podcast listeners can't be radio listeners and vice versa.) For example if you're looking for the latest "pop hits" (or just recent music) you'll probably go for radio, not a podcast. And if you're looking for a bit of hip debate on all things techy, and looking for a bit of new free music to download, podcasts are the go over radio.(I think I'm oversimplifying, but you get the drift.)
If we do go for 'radio vs. podcasting' (which I don't think we wanna) I think it kinda comes down to the fact that radio's accessibility seems to extend to all age groups because its easy to use and familiar, especially for the older citizens among us. Podcasts are great and do have content that is certainly comparable to that of radio in terms of entertainment value (as well as instructional, but that has not been the focus of this post). New technology (and it's hardware and software etc. etc.) can be scary or inaccessible to certain age groups or the non-savvy net user. I guess if you compare the two (but I don't want to -unless you're thinking about the amount of leisure hours in the day I suppose)radio has a level of access that endears it to those who may be thought of as slightly new media-resistant.

Like other new media technologies, the power of podcasts as a force in the evolution of participatory culture will most likely increase (or at least become more clear) when the passage of time gives rise to easier use and access through refinement of the technology, as well as a growing sense of familiarity amongst people with the potential of these new creative tools.

(This all sounds a bit negative but I think podcasting is cool I promise!)

Mon Oct 17, 10:25:00 pm 2005  

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