Sunday, June 05, 2011

Why Podcasting Never Really Happened

Back in the day, I predicted that podcasting was not really "a thing" and would go nowhere. Nobody really agreed with me, but I believe that now it is safe to declare podcasting officially dead. (Blogging is almost dead, too, so this posting is perhaps paradoxical).

Here is why podcasting (as an authoring paradigm) never happened: audio is the same as video. Except not as good.

Video and audio are both time-based media. In fact, audio is simply a subset of video. You can see this on YouTube by finding a song you like, posted with lame photographs layered on top of it as the "video" part.

But it is actually much harder to edit audio than to edit video, because there is nothing to look at when you're editing (almost nothing -- you can get waveforms that help a little, but they're pretty hard to use effectively). Video has cues and transition points and also audio, so it's just easier to edit. Period.

So, audio is less good, less interesting, and harder to produce and edit than video, and it takes just as long to consume. Why would it ever become a popular consumer authoring medium? Exactly.

It's actually easier to understand the value of black-and-white TV after seeing color TV than it is to understand the value of audio-only on your computer, or iPod. Podcasting failed, and instead, iPods now all have tiny video screens!


Scott said...

Wow, you're totally wrong. People consume audio for all sorts of reasons: whilst commuting, driving, doing some sort of art etc.
Also, how is audio more difficult to edit than video? Clearly, you've never edited either.
This is what kills both podcasting and blogging: instant experts blasting out hot air.

小罗 said...

Funny enough, I've actually just started listening to podcasts again after a bit of an hiatus. Very glad iTunes has such nice support for podcasts. I find them easier to listen to - news or Chinese vocabulary - while riding the bus, or coding. Meaning doing something that requires me to not be staring at a video (which is a lot of the time).

I think you make some valid points though. The effort to "mixing down" the content is similar, but collecting the content for video is arguably more difficult. I also think you're right - the kids like the video, and I don't think audio podcasts will ever be super popular, but I do enjoy them.

Also, Scott, unless you were being funny, please read Glenns bio before you say something really silly like "Clearly, you've never edited either."... yeah Glenn you've clearly never edited media before :-D

Glenn Reid said...

There is certainly a market for *listening* to podcasts. I'm talking about the authoring side. Almost all podcasts are professional audio that was authored for some other purpose (notably radio) that can then be repurposed as downloadable podcast audio. This is a new delivery system for existing products, but not really a new category of product or authoring.

Scott, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I am the original author of Apple's iMovie, and have edited audio and video a lot more than you have, I promise. I am not an "instant expert", but an actual expert, with decades of experience.