My podcast on Why Podcasting isn’t Interesting

I was pleased last week to speak on why I didn’t think much of podcasting at the recent daVinci Institute Podcasting Bootcamp event. Surrounded by people who were doing smart and interesting things with this new medium, however, I started to have some doubts, but when it was time to take the stage, I managed to come up with an idea or two worthy of discussion.
And, to show that I can eat even the proverbial dogfood I might not like, I used my own audio recording equipment to record my 12 minute talk and am making it available here for your own listening pleasure as my first ostensible podcast.
The gist of my argument is that…

Podcasting is Boring

  • How do avoid the “podcasts are boring” problem?
  • How do you avoid the persistence challenge, where the number of podcasters who make it past their third or fourth show are miniscule (just as the vast majority of bloggers last about 3-8 entries then give up)?
  • How many nationally recognized radio personalities are there, compared to the number of people trying to break into the radio talk show industry? What does that tell us about the difficulty of being an interesting voice-only personality?
  • What if you just don’t have anything interesting to say?
  • What happens when everyone on the planet has their own radio show?

Tip: If you want to be a good podcaster, spend a lot of time listening to commercial or public radio. Listen to timing, intonation, give and take of a good interview program.
Podcasting is Dreadfully Inefficient

  • How do you digest lots of information efficiently?
  • It takes 30 minutes to listen to a thirty minute podcast, but if you give me 10 pages of material to read, I can scan through it in 15-30 seconds. I follow over 150 Web sites daily with my RSS aggregator – but I couldn’t digest 150 podcasts every day because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
  • Therefore, I need to rely on others to find interesting podcasts for me, people like my friend Amy Gahran, in which case she becomes a magazine editor and if she doesn’t find interesting new stuff, neither do I.
  • Currently, we can’t use search engines to find podcasts about a specific topic or, more importantly, to segments within individual podcasts.
  • podcasts make too much of a time demand: Unless you’re phenomenal, I’m not going to devote 45 minutes of my time to listen to you.

I wrap up with some less negative comments, because all of these concerns aside, I am excited about podcasting and am looking forward to finding new and interesting people to listen to and watching how the collective innovation gene of our industry overcomes these hurdles and makes podcasting fun, engaging, efficient and useful.
Until then, however…
Well, have a listen to what I say:

Dave’s Arguments Against Podcasting (MP3, 7MB)

Note: for some odd reason, I can’t include the MP3 link in the main part of this blog entry, hence it being here in the extended entry. If any Movable Type guru wants to help me out with this hiccup, I’d love to hear from you, because I’d prefer to have the download link easier to find.

16 comments on “My podcast on Why Podcasting isn’t Interesting

  1. For the record, I did actually listen to this podcast of yours. In fact it was the second one I listened to today.
    I’m agnostic as to the general benefits of podcasts, but I do recognize that they do have one singular purpose: a way to exploit offline downtime.
    I am actually opposed to the concept of content being podcast-only. Give me a one-paragraph summary and a few bullet points as text and I’m relatively happy. Podcasting should simply be a *user* choice of presentation media for content, much as you might choice an audio book even though the “real” book (the electronic document version??) is available.
    The simple truth is that podcasts don’t have anything anywhere near the level of tool support that we have for blogs. I do a few odd paragraphs of text and presto I have a professional-looking blog, complete with a searchable “feed”, and I can radically change the presentation simply by a few clicks to select a different template, or the user can pick from feed readers and set their own preferences. Unfortunately, it could be a while before you can do a podcast by writing a simple XML file with the text (and some embedded cues for tone and pace).
    My basic problem is that I’m so busy that the only downtime I have is when I’m trying to fall asleep… so maybe I need to get that podcast you mentioned in your podcast!
    Listening to podcasts during commutes makes sense for some people, but my commute consists of a one-hour walk (each way) and I prefer to listen to the wind or local animals (and life-threatening traffic) and focus my attention on my surroundings rather than on some lecture.
    Now I did have over an hour of almost-nasty downtime last week… sitting in the loal DMV waiting to exchange my New York drivers license for a Colorado ID, but even then my mind was busy ruminating on various ideas I’m pursuing, not to mention trying very hard not to laugh at the frequently outrageous antics of my fellow Boulderites during their own DMV-Hell downtime. Funny, I didn’t notice many people listening to headsets… heaven forbid you might doze off during a podcast or be blissed-out on some “tune” when they call your number.
    — Jack Krupansky

  2. Good on you for trying to add some diversity into the discussion, but I gotta let you know a couple of reasons why I listen to podcasts.
    1. I work a lot in graphics. Listening to audio is a great way to ‘multi task’ my thinking so that I get a few new ideas while I’m working.
    2. I live in the mountains and the signal of the community radio station I like doesn’t reach me. I can now download the audio files of the programs I like.
    3. I read your post, but gotta say I prefer you voice! You have a nice voice! I’m listening to you while I type this!
    Congratulations on a great podcast ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. > 3. I read your post, but gotta say I prefer you voice! You have a nice voice!
    I know Dave personally, so yes … I can attest to his voice and his good speaking style.
    And that’s part of the point of a podcast. I would rather, for example, listen to an interview by Terry Gross (WHYY, Philadelphia) than read the transcript. Larry King, however, I wouldn’t want either. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Now, those are “professional” personalities. But the same holds for me in virtually all interviews. I would much rather *hear* it than *read* it.

  4. A nice blend of entertaining and thought-provoking scepticism and agnosticism Dave. I was a bit impatient reading the text, then was able to get up and do a few fairly manual chores around the place with the speakers turned up. A tick for multi-tasking convenience.

  5. Blogs are mostly boring, mostly suck, many start strong and disappear, most blog authors have nothing useful or interesting to say, I don’t have time to read them, etc. All true. But some are good and they stick. However, even I can’t read the blogs while I’m out walking, while driving my car to work, on the plane, while programming, etc. With podcasts I can.
    Podcasts aren’t meant to take the place of the forms of information that you are comparing them to. It’s apples and oranges. What most excites me is seeing the good (And often professional) media outlets using the podcast mechanism as a delivery platform. KCRW, NPR– the ability to easily aggregate and listen to them on my own time is fantastic!

  6. Snide comment aside, Tom, go back and read what IBM’s using it for, and who their audience is. Very different from the ‘iPod as the replacement for all other types of media communication’ that’s the primary drumbeat of the pro-podcast people I read…

  7. I see a bit of a war going on: podcasts vs. blogs.
    What we have is reader/writers vs. listener/talkers.
    Not a deep gulf necessarily, nor unbridgeable, but still, I take a firm stance.
    I don’t like podcasting, did one with 49 Media, which went well, but I’ll probably never do any more. I don’t have time to listen passively to any unilateral broadcasts in any medium, though I do read books.
    I can interact with books, at least decide when and how much and how often to read them.
    Podcasts have no comment posting. And if I’m not reading or writing, I work in my garden or I listen to music. I listen to music as I write posts on my blog, reply to comments, and read other blogs.
    I just don’t want spoken words constantly crawling around in my brain, I prefer written text. This is the classic talking vs. writing debate of Deconstruction and Jacques Derrida who asserted the supremacy of writing over speech.
    I think people will gravitate to what they like, whether reader or listener.

  8. The main reason for why I love Podcasts, is only because I love radio. I am constantly seeking for releases of good, high quality style of programs from the public radio that I can listen to when I want. So far I haven’t come over any interesting amateur podcast (but I am sure that they exist). Hopefully we will soon see all the public radio services offering their programs as podcasts. That is the real revolution.

  9. Fascinating comment. Netanal. What you’re doing is reducing podcasting down to its essence: a convenient means of disseminating audio online. I agree. Then you say that you’re hoping that traditional radio programming will become available through podcasting, which would be great because then we can really timeshift audio programming in a way that TiVO, etc., lets us shift TV viewing. Interesting…

  10. When the people like podcasting?
    if its comes wireless in his MOBILE
    No more cables, software, USB, downloads etc
    What is NeXT Generation Personal Entertainment system?
    Tap recorder, walkman, Cd ,Mp3, Fm radio , Network Walkman,
    Hard Drive Players (ipod)
    What is NeXT Digital Music (Machine) Player?
    What is NeXT Generation Personal Entertainment system?
    Thing about wireless Digital Music Player!!!

  11. I would love to hear what you have to say. Make the link avail amigo. I recommend going to where we (the podcasters) hang out
    I will be hitting show 100 in the next few weeks and I am still working out the sound issues and fear of the boring… I know I have put folks to sleep at times and any help/feedback helps. At the pickle you will find the most cool podcasts around. Mine is more of a MEME type Podcast evolved from my MEME blog
    Come visit

  12. I blog and my husband podcasts. I have yet to find a podcast that I like, besides his, yet he is an avid podcast listener of 6 or 7. He says that while editing (we own a video production company) he finds listening to a podcast great. He also listens while at the gym. I think the difference between us is that he loves podcast full of just information-he is a tech geek and finds so many things facinating while I on the other hand would like to be entertained more.
    I have to say that if there is only 1 person on the podcast I definitley get bored more quickly. I find if there is a group, there is a better dynamic, more personlaity and a little more than just one person’s opinion being broadcasted.

  13. I am fairly new to the world of podcasts, but hardly a noob to technology and technological tools. Our team used first generation iPods as a far superior data transfer tool due to its firewwire transfer method. Now we have an even further expandable tool.
    Perhaps when you were new to your craft you may have been as boring as these fresh authors you chide.
    AS for now I thought your podcast was much more presentable than your entry argument, which by the way came accross as arrogant and aloof.
    That’s just my $.02 and I am sticking with it.

  14. Dave, as the movable type guru you need on this matter (and maybe more movable type tasks), I would be delighted to help you with the podcasting display issue you’ve mentioned on the post above…
    Let me know via email (you already have my contact as “PRO IT Service”) or using the contact form from the PRO IT Service Web site

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