Podcasting – A Tentative Critique

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Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz will start a podcast in a few weeks time. They will have weekly conversations on communication, technology and other relevant topics via Skype …

… and then publish the result at For Immediate Release.

I haven’t read Shel very much, but Neville often have things to say. In that sense it is a promising initiative. But to tell you the truth I’m not that hooked on podcasting (can I say that today without being regarded a dinosaur?).

I may get back to the discussion in more detail, but basically my objection is about time. The beauty of blogging for me is the possibility to read literally hundreds of views/voices in maybe half an hour. I’ve got them all served in Bloglines. With podcasting, I need to spend the same time to listen to just a couple of views/voices. Considering that time is a valuable and scarce resource for many of us, podcasting makes little sense to me.

To put it more directly (no offense Neville, Shel): There are very few voices out there I regularly would invest 30 minutes in. It just won’t happen.

With this said, I do see one major market for podcasting – internal communications. Many would invest 10 minutes per week to listen to the CEO they never get to meet in person, I think. And under those circumstances the CEO’s voice (the actual audio) could add a different value than newsletters or blogs do.

Reader Comments …

From Neville Hobson:
That’s a good tentative critique, Fredrik. No offense taken at all (hey, we’re bloggers!).

Who will have time to listen to a podcast? you ask. It’s a good question. I don’t know how other people treat podcasts, but what I tend to do is listen to them when I’m doing other things.

Podcasting treats information distribution in a different way than blogs do. Podcasts aren’t for quickly scanning lots of information (well, you can actually do that with a podcast as well). You’d typically spend specific time with a podcast, even if you’re also doing something else. So you’re driving – you can listen to a podcast as you do to a radio broadcast (and if you have a Saab 9-3, you can have your iPod built-in for easy listening). On the train or plane – with your player and headphones.

I don’t have an iPod or other digital player (yet, but Christmas is coming…) so I listen to podcasts on my PC. And I do listen to quite a few now, especially those from IT Conversations.

And this leads to your most important point, I think – choosing who to listen to. There has to be something about the podcast that is compelling enough that I will spend time on it. Either the particular content or the podcaster, or both. So Shel and I will have to meet those two conditions (at least) in order to capture your interest!

Please listen to the first one next month and let us know how we did in meeting those conditions.

And I think you’re dead right on your other point – big opportunity for internal communication. That’s a topic we will definitely be talking about.

Response by Fredrik Wacka:
Hi Neville, it’s true that some podcasts will be compelling, interesting, mindprovoking enough to find its listeners. I truly hope yours will be one of them – I will give you a chance

So I don’t think you and I disagree that much. I took the news of your podcasting as a basis for a more general thought.

If you compare podcasting to blogging (as two channels for micro journalism/personal voices) there is a fundamental difference both you and I talk about. One single person can read several hundreds of feeds daily, but that same person will only listen to maximum 5-10 podcasts. That makes the “market” for podcasting a lot smaller than for blogging, and therefore – I believe – a channel with less potential.

I look forward to hear your first podcast!

Comment by Charlie Quidnunc:
You definitely need to listen to podcasts away from your computer. Get an MP3 player, download some, and go for a walk. Your heart, your eyes, and your carpal tunnel will thank you.

For a good list of podcasts, go to http://www.podcastbunker.com . He has posted 30 second samples of about 100 podcasts.

I think all CEO’s need to do a podcast. Think about the possibility of listening to a ten minute talk by the top 100 tech CEO’s, one a day. Internal and external audiences.

Fredrik Wacka is the author and founder of the popular CorporateBlogging.Info blog which is a guide to business and corporate blogging.

Visit Fredrik Wacka’s blog: CorporateBlogging.Info.

Podcasting – A Tentative Critique
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