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Monday, February 28, 2005

You Say Bug, I Say Feature

Al Nye thinks Podcasting Needs Advertising. I told Al I disagreed, and here's why. It's not that I don't want and won't listen to 'casts that are commercially supported, and thus presumably have higher production values and less, shall we say, unfocused material. I want that stuff. But I want the amateur stuff as well, and I probably want it more than I want slick, produced efforts. The simplicity of "producing" a quickie, relatively low-tech podcast means an exponential increase in access to and distribution of specialized information. I feel exactly the same way about weblogs. Just getting the material out there is extraordinarily powerful. I don't need to have the Becker-Posner blog, for example, bear a stronger resemblance to something that is commercially supported; in fact, it's much better as far as I'm conerned if it does not. I'd feel the same way about any podcast its authors might choose to put out. Easy, cheap tools = low barrier to entry, huge numbers can do it at some baseline level of quality. This is a Good Thing, as is finding the occasional respite from the advertising that saturates our existence. (I mean, c'mon: building elevators?)

Related: Steve Gillmor on the (sponsor-supported, and I like it, I listen) Chris Pirillo Show, talking about attention.xml and attention as a coin of the realm. I bring it up because I sense at least a couple of digital divides in this context: 1) those can afford not to share their attention metadata vs. those who can't, and 2) the time and/or money strapped "amateurs" vs. the "professionals."

Also related, via Genie Tyburski, RSS, Not Just Text Anymore: "[A] new practice, called appcasting, enables the RSS-like distribution of applications. 'RSS enclosures would make it really easy for teachers to distribute files to their students. A teacher could post lecture notes, multimedia content, or any other kind of electronic document.'" My point: Few-to-Few is every bit as valuable as Many-to-Many.

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