Monday, September 12, 2005

Demanding Radio, Not Podcasts

What if you just wanted to hear Howard Stern's fart jokes?

I know several people who would laugh themselves silly all the way to work, just listening to fart jokes.

This is possible, though most people would say it's unbelievable (some would even say "undesirable").

If you went up to a person and asked "do you know what a podcast is?" chances are they'd answer "no." Most of my friends can't figure out why I'd bother downloading people talking into my iPod and listen to it later.

But what if you asked "would you like to just listen to Howard Stern's fart jokes?" or "Would you like to have NPR's Marketplace avaialble to you whenever you want?" chances are you'd get a resounding "Yes!" (Stern fans may give a more colorful answer)

Forrester’s Ted Schadler believes that podcasting is, in part, a fad. To a degree he's right. But I also don't think we will always call this "podcasting." I made a few comments to this end on his post.

This gets interesting when we start combining technologies. Let's combine a mobile hard drive with WiMAX and RSS. Now you have a system that automatically downloads new content whenever it senses an Internet connection. Build this into a car and let you subscribe from a Web interface, or better, let you take your subscriptions with you wherever you are, and suddenly you have radio when you want, where you want. Add in a bit of tagging on the content production side, and suddenly you can have your very own "Howard Stern Fart Joke Feed."

These things aren't so far away. The city of Philadelphia is already working on pervasive wireless, and I met a very smart guy at the Blog Business Conference who dropped a large hard drive into his car as part of his voice modifications.

While it's all possible, the technology should never be visible to the end user. As an example, consider that early photographers had to use complex cameras and glass plates (developed themselves), which evolved into film, which evolved into "point and shoots" which evolved into digital cameras. We no longer worry about lighting, exposures and developing, but just point, click and look. Each step brought photography one step closer to the masses.

When it's done what you have is essentially "radio on demand." While this will further erode radio’s audience it won’t kill it entirely, since time remains a factor. Because you're essentially storing data to listen later, if you want "timely" information you'll still have to tune into news radio.

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