Podcasting’s Image Problem

I’m finally getting around to listening to the sessions I missed at last fall’s Podcast and Portable Media Expo. While there, all the sessions felt like we were prepping for a boom. Everyone looking for how to hit the mother lode.

Seven months later, listening to the sessions, that suspicion is confirmed. The tone, pitch, and demeanor (of all but Dave Slusher’s session) is one of snake oil pyramid scheme sales pitch.

From an aesthetic sense, even today, if ‘pod’ is somewhere a company’s name, the presence looks cheap, unpolished, half-baked, and feels as reputable as a payday loan provider.

This is a huge problem. For everyone that publishes enclosures via RSS.

It’s not a lack-of-money problem. It’s a customer experience problem. The latest Web 2.0 toysite is far more polished and thought-through from an experience perspective than people frantically digging for fool’s gold in podcastville.

Hopefully, we’re in podcasting’s dip. A lull. To shake out those that can be shaken out.

“There was no boom in podcasting technology, and there won’t be.” – Dave Winer

Leo Laporte Gives Up on Podcasting

I’ve subscribed to the Daily Giz Wiz for quite a while now – the combination of goofy banter, unloved gadgets, generally silliness, and it’s brevity makes for great podcasting. It’s the only TWIT-family podcast I was still subscribed.

Unfortunately, in today’s – #166 – the new TWIT intro calls it a ‘netcast’.

Lame. What’s a ‘netcast’? Do I need a boat and a body of water?

I heard Laporte’s rational for attempting to change the name at the recent 2006 PodcastExpo – he wants Apple to claim trademark of ‘podcast’. A term and media form developed by the podcast community – not Apple.

Double Lame. Rather than standing up to Apple, supporting the podcast community, simplifying the explanation for new listeners, keeping things simple for existing listeners – Laporte gives up.

Like Dave Winer said about RSS vs Atom: Two is more than twice as bad.

This thing – a multimedia file distributed via an RSS feed – is a podcast.

I’m unsubbing from DGW until it’s called a ‘podcast’ or at least a ‘clambake‘. I can’t support a name change and the software I’m using only understands ‘podcasts’.

RELATED 06 APRIL 2007

” I’m afraid, I can’t have anything to do with Twitter, either. It’s just fueling the confusion [with TWiT].” – Leo Laporte

I completely agree with Tony @ Deep Jive Interests when he says:

“I just don’t see what [leaving Twitter] is going to solve.”

This is another silly publicity stunt from the big twit.

RELATED 09 NOV 2007

“I surrender Twitter. You win.” – Leo Laporte

Photo of Me at PodcastExpo


(Dave, Victor and myself)


(Me, Kris Smith, Rick Klau, Eric Olson, and many others at Dinner)

Big thanks go out to;

  • Kris Smith – for letting me hang out with him all weekend and running the best session of the conference.
  • Tim Coyne – for some amazing conversation.
  • Dave Slusher – for dropping zen wisdom all weekend (“there is no good and bad – only relevant to you or irrelevant”, “statistically nobody is listening to your podcast”) and hosting a great BBQ.

I completely agree with Tim Elliott’s and impression of the event:

“I was a bit disappointed in the lack of advancement in the podcasting world over the past year.”

Tim’s right, it isn’t just in the vendors. As a community, the most vocal podcasters are still stuck on the same questions: the name of the thing, measuring success/value, justifying their continued involvement. Disheartening.

I made a number of laps around the expo floor over the 2 days – generally stalling out at the LA Podcasters booth and chatting with Tim Coyne. The other booths seemed to be selling one of the following;

  1. Stuff I already have that works great
  2. Stuff I won’t ever use
  3. Stuff that doesn’t make sense
  4. Snake oil

I left thinking there are 3 problems with the expo as it exists currently;

  1. It’s serving 2 separate cultures; those that love podcasting and those that missed the first dot com rush
  2. It’s too niche. As evidence by the expo floor, there’s just not enough innovation happening within the podcasting-specific space year over year to be interesting. Now, if the context was expanded just a hair to anything-RSS we’d start to see far more interesting things. Plus, it’d give larger media brands a better justification for attending.
  3. Too many logos with the word ‘pod’ in a different color than the rest of the company name.