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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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There’s a subculture of the blogging world that’s gaining some traction called podcasting. In a nutshell, bloggers (and it’s only bloggers at this point) record mp3 files that are basically audio versions of a blog entry, which their readers/listeners download and play. The term comes from the iPod that people often use to play these files on. It’s different from radio because it is delivered over the Internet and it’s different from Internet radio because the listener must download the entire file—in other words, there’s no streaming.

Astute readers might note that there aren’t any mp3 files from me on this site, even though there are several blogs and a variety of other content available. I did this because I respect my readers: I have a very nasal voice that doesn’t record well. I am a much better writer than I am a speaker and I don’t want to waste both our time.

Unfortunately, the majority of podcasters don’t have my reluctance. They produce their verbal vomit in bulk. Lacking any professional broadcasting skills, they don’t prepare adequately, overuse verbal crutches, and speak in an untrained voice. Sitting through one of their recordings is an exercise in patience: I’m not sure I’ve ever listened to an entire entry (episode?).

The Internet is an excellent tool for broadcasting: it’s cheap and the quality is comparable to radio. When a program is produced professionally, the value can be incredible. Take IT Conversations for example. It consists of well-done interviews with important—and interesting—people in information technology. The interviewer is competent and the editing is crisp. It could easily be played on regular radio if there was an audience for it: there certainly wouldn’t be one in a local market, but globally there’s a massive niche.

Podcasting suffers from the same problems that blogging does: any amateur medium generally yields amateur results. Put another way: there’s a reason why radio personalities and journalists earn a salary.