With the recent news on ITunes supporting podcasts, a few thoughts. New readers of this blog might wonder why I’m mentioning podcasts … I haven’t said too much about podcasting here recently (since so many others discuss it already), but I’ve been keen on podcasting since it kicked off.
I’ve seen a couple of mentions recently that the BBC’s enthusiasm for podcasts is about reducing their reliance on Real Audio. This made me think: how come radio websites have released content in Real and MS formats for years, but so few have simply placed MP3s on their site instead? MP3s have, for many years, been far more useful and play at the click of a link in much the same way as the other formats. Why no MP3s? A copyright issue? The MP3 patent? If so, I hate to break it to all these new podcasters what file format their podcasts are based on? **I’m all for podcasting – it’s vastly superior to just placing MP3s online – but I’m scratching my head as to why it took the introduction of podcasting to get all these broadcasters to provide plain old MP3s.
The “Who Invented Podcasting” debate. Really quite a silly issue. Who invented anything? Dave Winer helped setup RSS, Adam Curry wrote a client to push audio into ITunes, Aristotle contributed to the scientific method which is necessary to develop new technology. See? No one person just turned up and invented podcasting. People have limited attention capacity and busy lives, so the media likes to present things that way, but that’s life. Adam was always going to be the man here – he introduced the first podcasting client and relentlessly pushed the whole concept by podcasting almost daily and grabbing plenty of media attention.
Apologies if this seems cringeworthy, but it’s hard not to notice the link to Ajax. Plenty of people are now (predictably) complaining that it’s nothing new, which misses the point. Having an evocative name for something lets you form a community, debate about it, write about it, and so on. “Audioblogging” and “Dynamic websites” just didn’t fit the bill.
An unexpected side benefit is that it will push speech-to-text and text-to-speech. Both extremely useful technologies. There’s a huge amount of information ready for audio format if only decent speech synthesis can be developed. These systems are early, but they’re at least present. Hopefully it won’t turn out like automatic language translation, which was amazing at first, but doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere in the past five years.