Category Archives: Podcasting

Micro Men

For those with nostalgia for the early 80s microcomputer scene, “Micro Men”, a dramatisation of the competitive environment around Cambridge between Acorn and Spectrum is terrific.

Turns out this was broadcast more than ten years ago now!

Sadly I don’t think it was ever broadcast outside the UK, and it never made it onto home video.

The Centre For Computing History marked this anniversary by getting some of the real people into a room to watch the program and comment on it:

You can also listen to a recent podcast with the screenwriter, Tony Saint – this was very enjoyable.

And another one with Steve Furber, who worked for Acorn at the time and was one of the designers of the BBC Micro. He talks about the project, with a fair bit of technical detail, and touches on the realism of the dramatisation.

Celebrity branding

Quick! What’s Scoble’s new company called? Something to do with podcasts. Oh, PodTech, that’s right.

Now, what’s interesting is his new ScobleShow which is a bit like the Channel 9 Scoble started up at Microsoft: video blogging things of interest. (Did he start it? He certainly seems to have been in at the start).

ScobleShow is a bit broader, of course.

What’s got me interested is the branding. ScobleShow. Obviously PodTech want to make the most of their investment in Scoble’s geek celebrity status, and they’re doing so with this name.

But what happens when Scoble eventually leaves? Will the brand go with him? Or will it die? Or will someone else try to take it over? Will PodTech have built up their branding and audience enough in the mean time that it doesn’t matter?

Fairfax tries podcasting… almost

Fairfax/The Age has discovered podcasts, with a business and an IT cast. With RSS and everything But ohhhh… WTF is this? It only plays in a player on their web page. The RSS they’ve setup will apparently work with iTunes or iPodder, but you can’t simply save an MP3 off the site.

HINT: A podcast needs to be easily downloadable, not tied to a web page with dodgy streaming, or to podcasting software I don’t have. I should be able to Right Click/Save link as. Subscribing via RSS is all very well, but how do I know if I want to get that involved?

Oh, and Garry Barker’s an interesting writer, but he’s going to have to cast more than a 30 second intro to what his podcast will eventually be about to get me listening regularly. (Or was that just the streaming cutting out after 30 seconds? You see the problem here?!)

What I Want

After watching Sin City the other day I decided I didn’t want to wait.

What I want is a directors commentary that I can take to the cinema with me. I’d download it, throw it on the pod and listen to it in the cinema. I’m sure it would be great for repeat business; go once to watch the film, then again to listen to the commentary. It would be spoken word, you could play it soft and no one would hear it.

Maybe Cameron‘s The Podcast Network could try and flex their muscles?

Dan Bricklin on the pod

Back in 1979, a couple of guys called Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston wrote the first spreadsheet program, Visicalc, which almost single-handedly launched the mass sales of microcomputers (in particular the Apple II) into businesses and onto people’s desks.

Dan has gone on to more innovative computer stuff, including one prototyping product I remember from my interface designing course days at university, called Demo.

Bob Frankston has an article about how he wrote Visicalc: One of the early applications for VisiCalc was my 1979 tax form. I created @lookup for that purpose.

Anyway, to get to the point of this post, Cam and Mick at G’day World have wangled an interview with Dan Bricklin. Some of the topics include Visicalc, podcasting and video blogging, tablet PCs, and software (and data) that should last 200 years.

Check it out.

Spoiling for a blogosophere rumble!

Cameron Reilly vs Charles Wright.

In summary:

Cam: We’re doing podcasts. We’ve got a bunch of mates to help, and people seem to like them.

Charles: Your podcasts are amateurish and I don’t like them.

Cam: So?

Charles: I don’t like them. You swear too much.

Cam: So?

…and so on. You know, I enjoy listening to Cam’s podcasts and reading Charles’ columns. But I’ll tell ya, from what I’ve seen, Charles doesn’t take disagreement with his opinions very well.

Fact is it doesn’t matter if he personally doesn’t like it. It would matter if nobody liked it, but this plainly isn’t the case.

(And that bloody use of the plural personal pronoun is stupid, unless he’s had himself cloned.)

Doubts over Podcasting

While Cam and Mick at The Podcast Network are doing great things, I have niggling doubts about the long-term prospects for podcasting. Darren Barefoot has expressed some of them. My niggling doubts primarily come from the differences between blogs and podcasts, and the technical limitations of podcasting.

  • You can’t mass-consume podcasts like you can blogs, via aggregators. (Okay, so you can see summaries via aggregators, but not the content itself)
  • You can’t scan an audio file like you can a long blog entry.
  • Even on broadband, you don’t get instant gratification when you click on a link to podcast content – you have to wait X minutes, then you get the file, which you have to find time to listen to, and to find the bit you wanted… now, what was it I was clicking on again?
  • Most podcasts I’ve seen don’t have the immediatcy of blogs. There’s an element of post-production involved which inevitably introduces delays to getting the content out to the world.
  • You can’t easily quote a bit out of a podcast, or find a permalink to that specific moment.
  • Which means you can’t find podcasts by searching for keywords, unless there’s a transcript.

So will podcasting go mainstream? Will it knock radio off its roost? Or did video already do that? 🙂 Will the technical limitations be overcome? It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out in the long term.