Ok, I'm going to blaspheme here. For those with "delicate sensibilities," cover your ears (or monitors, or whatever).
Here goes...podcasting is just a technology.
There, I said it.
The myth-hype-buzz around it has been dizzying. (And more buzz buzz buzz, and those are just from today.) Yes, I'm just as hooked as the next person. And I'm almost through my back-queue of DSCs and Covervilles and Hobson and Holtzs after being off the grid last week. But, like blogging, or wifi, or databases, or the inclined plane, it's what the end-user does with it that matters.
A while back, there was a sketch put together of the different types of business blogs.
The "internal vs. external" distinction is going to be important in podcasting (especially business podcasting). What's missing from the picture above is a podcast-relevant nod to the "consumer vs. business" implications of how the technology can be used.
Most of the podcasting uses that have gotten all the buzz so far have been the consumer-oriented ones. Here's where we "kill radio," etc. Why do people listen to podcasts? For the same reason they listen to radio today:
The great thing about the consumer-facing aspect of podcasting is that, due to its very nature, it's outside the reach of these jokers. And, since there is a huge overlap between blogging and podcasting, the mores that have grown up around blogging...transparency, disclosure, timeliness, ease-of-creation (and a sometimes-refreshing lack of "polish"), etc...have spilled over into podcasting.
Sidebar: Your thoughts...where is podcasting on the following chart right now?
Transparency. Disclosure. Timeliness. Ease-of-creation. Those are all wonderful things. But let's take podcasting back to first principles. What is podcasting, really? Podcasting is a simple way to (a) distribute and (b) time-shift ones and zeroes ...those things that some folks call "content." (To drive this point home, I know of at least one organization that is using podcasting as a software distribution mechanism. Who should be worried? Companies like Marimba.)
So, in addition to all the consumer-facing genres of podcasts listed here, perhaps we need to take a step back. Maybe something like this:
- Executive Communications
- Competitive Intelligence
- Product Rollouts/Training
- Product Update News (to existing customers)
(if anyone wants to play with this outline above, here is the OPML file)
Using the outline and context above, it becomes a bit more tangible as to the places where using podcasts may be appropriate.
Unfortunately, if past history is any judge, podcasting is going to follow the hype curve shown above. Like blogs, we'll likely see many millions of abandoned podcasts in the upcoming couple of years. We'll see a handful of "super podcasts" with huge followings. We'll see an even greater number of niche, long tail podcasts with a handful of subscribers each. But those numbers are just for the consumer-facing ones. What will be hidden (just like blogs) will be the many millions of internal, business-oriented podcasts locked behind the firewall.
There is a lot of talk about the various business models for podcasts. Like blogs, the short-to-mid run will see the pans-and-pickaxe providers being the primary ones making money. And, also like blogs, I have a feeling that people will be far more likely to make money "because of" their podcasts, rather than "with" them.