In Podcasting: Mechanist View vs Humanist View, Dave Slusher makes an excellent point. He talks about the people who have been saying, for some time now, that Podcasting is hardly new or different, that people have been putting audio on the web for ages. But I agree with Dave that they are entirely missing the point. Sure the technology has existed for some time. What has not existed is the ease of use brought about by recent tools and the accompanying zeitgeist which has made this popular and interesting. Without either of those, you have audio files on the web that few people can access, hear, and even fewer can produce. You have, in short, nothing interesting or of value. Since last summer, you have tools which make it much easier to find and get the audio and you have the popularity for people to want to not only find and hear it but to also take the time to create their own. Say what you want about the underlying technology, we know it’s been around for years. What hasn’t is podcasting as a concept which makes this interesting.
I put audio on the web back in 2000 when my son was born. They are audio recordings of answering machine messages I left all day with my friend James giving him updates. Is that podcasting? Hardly. It was a pain to get them online (I had to manually build all the links after uploading the files) and few people knew to look for them or listen to them. That’s not podcasting. That’s uploading audio on the web. What we’re doing now is completely different. And far more interesting. Well, I think the answering machine messages are interesting, but for different reasons.
A small controversy has been brewing in the land of Podcasting. Wired published an article about Adam Curry which, Dave Winer felt gave Adam all of the credit. More to the point, Dave appears to have felt that Adam was taking all of the credit. Xeni, of BoingBoing posted a note letting readers know that Adam was more than gracious in giving credit to Dave and that it was editing that caused things to appear slanted.
My own article in TidBITS does, I believe, I good job at being even-handed and tries to capture the origins accurately and concisely. It is based on my own research, my interview with Dave Winer, and listening to many, many podcasts including Morning Coffee Notes, The Daily Source Code, and IT Conversations. I have privately and publicly invited Adam to read the article and let me know if he feels I got anything wrong so that I can set the record straight. Dave linked to the article and has said nothing that contradicts it though he is also welcome to comment if he feels anything has been misstated.
I have been having a lot of trouble lately with noise on my audio in on my 15″ 1.25GHz PowerBook. I use a Griffin iMic for audio-in as the built-in line-in port has never worked and I could never part with my laptop long enough to get it fixed (though, I really should). I figured out that I could switch to the right USB port from the left and eliminate the problem but today both ports began showing the problem. So, I did some googling and found this post on Accelerate Your Mac: News Archive for March 8th, 2004 in which it was suggested I check out Apple’s Audio/MIDI Setup utility. I did and, sure enough, the USB port had gotten itself set to 1ch-16bit instead of 2ch-16bit. Changing it back fixed the problem.
UPDATE: the culprit was Audacity. When I ran it, I changed some setting so that iMic was mono instead of stereo. This changed the port the iMic was plugged into to 1ch-8bit and left it like that forever more. Setting Audacity to stereo fixes the problem. Of course, my headset has only the one microphone so setting it to mono was a fairly obvious (to me, at least) choice. Now I know better. I generally record in stereo and mix down afterwards anyway.
Mur Lafferty (and let’s get this out of the way right now — her actual name is Mary) scoffs at the idea that she’s a podcasting pioneer. Why, hundreds of people were doing podcasts before she launched hers. Maybe even a thousand. Pioneer? Pshaw.
Modesty is an endearing trait, and precision in language is appreciated. That said, Lafferty needs to get comfortable with this description. She’s a podcaster at a moment when most of the world has yet to even hear the term. The overwhelming majority of us are still at the point where Lafferty was on Oct. 28, when she uttered these words during a talk with a friend:
‘What’s a podcast? I have no idea what you’re talking about.'”
Actually, it was October 26 and the conversation went something like this:
Me: I guess…but lately I’m obsessed with podcasting… I get all kinds of weird stuff automagically put onto my ‘pod and I’m just starting to see some NPR stuff…
Mur: Cool! And now you speak of somethingI know nothing about.
(I log everything. It’s a sickness, I know.)
It’s a great article and props to Mur for getting the attention she’s getting! She’s got a great podcast well worth checking out.
Scripting News (Dave Winer): “TidBITS isn’t a blog, it’s an email newsletter, a website, and an RSS feed. It’s been published for well over a decade. And with all the blogs and Mac fan sites it’s possible that some Mac users don’t know about it. Regulars include Adam Engst, Matt Neuburg and Glenn Fleishman. It’s not flashy, but it sure is smart. Their report on podcasting was definitive.”
The report in question is my article. So, that’s a really great thing to read coming from Dave. High praise. Thanks Dave!