Podcasting and Enclosures

I don’t get this at all.
Enclosures have been the reason for some WP posts, and everywhere I look someone somewhere in mentioning a podcast. I’ve done a bit of reading – admittedly not exhaustive – and I just don’t get it.

It seems that people are very keen on listening to radio shows, as these seem to form the vast bulk of what people are talking about .. okay…. don’t quite get that myself but hey, I’ve not had Howard Stern go to a subscription service :) but even so, isn’t this just another P2P network, albeit with the iPod name attached ?
Let’s say I was posting an enclosure now, and let’s say I called it “Mark on a local phone-in”. How are you going to know that it’s not really a trance remix of some Pink Floyd ? After all, it would be an mp3, and changing a name is hardly challenging is it ? Or do I post these (illegal) mp3’s with code words in the post for a certain audience ?
And that leads to my next point – bandwidth. It doesn’t matter how or when the enclosure is pulled, it is still coming out of your bandwidth. And you’ve got zero control over who pulls the feed. Okay, so you’ve got no control over your site (or limited) but a visitor here would cost me somewhere around 120KB for one page view. An mp3 is megs of data – wouldn’t take much for you to get a bill from your provider would it ? This site has no huge files but I still break 3gig of transfer – that would be shattered if I did do any of this enclosing business.

It’s not that the technology isn’t quite cool (though posting a link in a syndicated post would seem to achieve the same result) and it’s not that I am against music piracy (despite the RIAA bleating about piracy killing cd sales, they are going up as is the number of P2P users) I just can’t see why all this fuss is being made.

Is it cool ? Is it piracy by another name ? Or is it just iPod elitism ?

Posted in WWW

8 thoughts on “Podcasting and Enclosures

  1. In short: Yes, no, and no.

    Third point first – podcasting borrows recognition from the iPod brand, but many of the podcatch clients (that pick up the enclosures) can also create playlists in Windows Media Player as well.

    Second point – No more so, I suppose, than any other web delivered content. Depends on what you put in the enclosures. By your argument, this is a distribution mechanism for pirated content. So is the web, newsgroups, IRC, et cetera. I’ll leave piracy there and just say that it’s no more or less a vehicle for piracy than other technologies.

    First point, the crux of the matter – It is, if you like it. I love various NPR programming (e.g. Car Talk), for example. However, I’m never near a radio when that program is on. What I want is audio content on demand – shows that I can listen to on my ride to work that may or may not be broadcast at that time. If I leave for work late, or if my drive in takes substantially longer or shorter, it doesn’t affect the program.

    That’s what podcasting is about. The Car Talk example breaks down here, as the content is syndicated through Real Audio streaming archives they host (cartalk.com) or as MP3 files through Audible.com. However, other people are producing interesting shows on a daily or weekly basis and publishing these. The exceptions from public radio now are WGBH (Boston) Morning Stories, and MPR (Minnesota) Future Tense, the first shows to be delivered as podcasts.

    So what’s my preference? I listen to Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code on my way in to work, and usually part of IT Conversaions or The Dawn And Drew Show. (It depends on how awake I am that morning – one takes more thought to follow than the other.) I listen to Engadget’s podcast and Morning Stories on the way home. It’s a break from the commercial radio, especially in the afternoons when I can’t find anything worth listening to. It’s content I control.

    Finally, I’d suggest looking through the directory at ipodder.org. And not holding up Howard Stern as a beacon of talk radio. ;)

  2. I like to think of it as TiVo for my iPod – and I know it’s unfortunate that it’s caught on with the term podcasting as that’s a little confusing. Anyway, I drop by ITConversations a lot and pull interesting talks which I load up for when I’m out and about. I know there are some radio stations in the States who are podcasting but I don’t have interest in those. I think the key term is potential. I’d argue that over 60% of content available right now is pretty dry and bordering on boring.

    I’d love Today FM in Ireland to Podcast “Giftgrub” (http://itof.fimc.net/article.asp?id=16682) but it’s not only commercial ventures. A couple of guys (or gals) with a monster amount of bandwidth could gain a worldwide audience as well.

    So the potential for the medium is incredibly cool.

  3. Thanks for all the clarification !
    It’s just like time-shifted video then .. sort of, which I guess is cool, but like Mark I can’t see the allure.

    Mike – point taken about piracy. I would imagine that any well ‘casted’ radio show could then ask for increased ad rates ? Not that that is a bad thing at all as that then covers bandwidth costs.

    Tom – Yes plans like that are around, but as long as I don’t go above 4gig I think I’m safe enough here (I break my small limit by the 10th of each month but so far that’s not a problem).

    Still, the trance remix of ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ is fantastically cool too :)

  4. Sure, that’s one way of looking at it – increased audience base, and as the content is opt-in, you can assume a more targeted audience. However, I think it’s more difficult to collect demographics on the listeners, so that may prove difficult.

    The other thing it seems to be doing is enabling hobbyists and interested contributors to generate content. Take blog tools as an example. If you strip a blog down to its basics, you have a (more or less) regularly updated HTML page in reverse chronological order. Blog tools drove templatization of all the internals, and transformed the online journal from something that web wizards could do into a form that anybody’s mother could fill out. It wasn’t new, but it was a significant change in the user experience.

    Podcasting is going down the same paths right now. It’s not new – create an mp3 of whatever you want to talk about, and provide links to the file. What it’s done is made the whole consumption process a one-click thing. Instead of reading your page, downloading the file, adding it to my library, adding it to a playlist, and syncing, I can now click “Fetch Now” to update all my feeds and sync them to my MP3 player.

    This not only makes my consumption much easier, but it drives down the barrier to entry. It’s now more rewarding to create an audio show, because I know many more people would listen to it (one hopes) than would two months ago.

    So that’s what it comes down to. My wife isn’t going to hop on this train – she’s never been a fan of talk radio or spoken audio content, so it doesn’t hold much appeal for her. I, on the other hand, love the stuff. Now I have it when I want it.

  5. Oh, and look around at hosting providers. Blogomania’s basic plan offers 19 GB/month for USD12/mo or USD30/quarter.

    (Full disclosure – my wife runs Blogomania, so I may be biased. Then again, she named WordPress, so I may be jealous.)

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