I know a lot of people involved with the blogosphere are avid podcast enthusiasts, in fact, some of my best friends are, yes, podcasters, but I have to say that I just can’t find any enthusiasm for podcasting, though I’m hugely bullish on blogging as a business communications tool.
Frankly, I think podcasting is just a fad and will shortly vanish from the proverbial radar screen, particularly for savvy businesses and entrepreneurs seeking smart and effective methods of promoting their business or service.
Allow me to explain…
But first, quickly, how many of you are reading this because you’ve subscribed to the RSS feed on the weblog? Ah, lots of raised hands. I thought so.
Those of you that aren’t and are reading this on a standalone Web page, how many of you came across it because of a link from another site or as a search engine result, either from someone like feedburner or technorati or a more traditional search engine like Google or MSN? More hands up, eh? Yeah, I kinda thought so.
Ya see, reading individual web pages and going back to sites time and again and even bookmarking sites is rather quaint and, yes, obsolete. Every day I keep up on over 150 different RSS feeds, from a widely diverse set of sources ranging from this very weblog to the United Nations, BBC World Service, Reuters, and dozens upon dozens of different bloggers. There’s no way that I’d visit 150 different Web sites every day and I bet you couldn’t do it either unless that was your full-time job.
Aggregation, automatic analysis of content and findability are all key concepts that are driving the evolution of the World Wide Web and the Internet itself. Search engine optimization is of interest purely because more findable material is more frequently seen than hidden content.
Into this growing, surprisingly efficient and effective hurricane of textual information, a veritable tsunami of data that never stops building, surfboard at hand or not, comes new communications media, media that do not enjoy these same efficiencies of consumption. Namely, podcasts.
And podcasts really just don’t work.
Until we have high quality automated audio parsing and transcription systems to instantly index new audio content, we’re stuck with the highly inefficient mechanism of actually listening to the material to determine if it’s of value or not.
This means that if I tell you “Hey, Molly has a superb interview with the W3C team about standardization” you then have to figure out where in the MP3 download her interview is, then listen ‘real time’ to find the nuggets that will hopefully be of value to you. Doable, but consider how inefficient it is when compared to my excerpting a paragraph of a text interview and linking to Molly’s site for the remainder? You can scan the excerpt visually – in your RSS aggregation of my feed – in seconds and determine if it’s worth consuming or not.
That’s the efficiency side of my problems with podcasting. The other side is whether it’s engaging or not.
And to share that, let me say that a good friend of mine emailed me excitedly, saying “Dave, Dave! Download this podcast interview: I was the guest!” So I did, copied it onto my iPod, got onto the bus from my office to go home, and pressed PLAY. Five minutes later I was asleep and I actually came within seconds of sleeping through my busstop entirely.
Yes, while a lot of people are darn interesting one on one, few have the stage presence to be in front of a crowd and engage them and fewer still have the ability to sit behind a microphone and talk into a computer recording device while sounding exciting, engaging and interesting. There’s a reason that the number of nationally known radio talk show hosts can be written on a cocktail napkin, and it’s not because there aren’t thousands of people trying to get on the short list…
In a word, I think that podcasts are boring and are just not useful additions to my data library. I can’t excerpt them, I can’t pull pithy stats out of a transcript, I can’t forward it along to colleagues or clients, and I can’t even store them for later relistening (one 30 minute podcast takes as much disk space as thousands of blog articles).
But weblogs, well, weblogs are a natural, just made for effective business communication, whether you’re one of a three person firm, solo, or a member of a Fortune 50 corporation. And that’s why I’m taking the first day of the Blog Business Summit to share with everyone exactly how to get the very most out of blogging for their own corporate needs, from competitive intelligence to customer communications. And, no, we won’t be podcasting it. 🙂
So what do you think? Am I blowing steam and totally clueless about the revolution in audio broadcasting, or on target with my criticism of the current podcasting hype?
Update: Here are some additional articles that I think are worth reading: