Thursday, 27th September 2007
Making Podcasting Easier for the Listener to Access, Enjoy, and Utilize
UPDATE: Some NPR Stations are Now Phonecasting. Links and Details at the bottom of this post.
Danny writes about the end of the Yahoo Podcast Search Engine and the sad state of podcast search in general. Agreed, but we think the issues not only include accessibility/organization but also runs deeper. We offer a few directories not mentioned in Danny's article and what we think can make podcasts accessible to many more people.
In terms of sources in general we will toss out:
+ Podscope (from the TVEyes People). This service allows you to keyword search every word spoken in podcasts. It was the first of its type (according to our posts) to debut on the web (in terms of podcasts) in April, 2005.
Here's a brand new podcast directory named Podanza. Yes, many podcast directories are available but we're mentioning this one because it's put together but the team that offers SearchForVideo.com, one of our favorite metasearch tools for web video.
Btw, SearchforVideo also offers an excellent video podcast directory.
However, this might be of interest to what I call the information or tech geek but podcasting, audio podcasting, in our opinion is not even close to a mainstream tool.
Why? A learning curve (what is a podcast? How do I find a podcast? How and where can I listen to a podcast, and the list goes on). That's a lot of work/time for people.
As Danny points, out iTunes has made it easier for some but let's remember that not everyone has iTunes and even then, getting yout iTunes player to work in your car (assuming you can't/don't want to listen using headphones while driving) can also pose challenges for some people.
We will leave out quality and production concerns in this post but they are an issue. However, some podcasts both those from individuals as well as major broadcasters do have excellent production values. Of course, others don't.
For many "over the air" broadcasters podcasts and videocasts have turned into an alternative delivery vehicle. Here's a directory of over 1,100 podcasts from public radio stations around the world.
OK, now what? What can a user or producer do to make a podcast, let's use Danny's "Daily Searchcast" as an example and make it, within seconds, something that even grandma (to use Greg Linden's analogy) can listen to, enjoy, and in the case of the SearchCast, learn from.
The answer, in our opinion, is not perfect because you still have to teach people that this content exists in the first place.
That said, for nearly a year we've been posting about the coming age of the cellcast, phonecast, mobilcast. Call it what you like, where you like.
In a nutshell, it allows mom, dad, grandma or the CONTENT PRODUCER to make the audio content accessible over the plain ol' telephone. Many of the technical issues go away and users and producers can focus on producing quality content and simply giving a phone number for people to listen. Yes, one limitation is the bandwidth of a phone call so podcasts involving music are going to have issues.
For example, to listen to the Daily Searchcast, just dial 1 (512) 696-0729
We have more about "dialing" the Searchcast in this post on Sphinn.
Since many people (in the U.S.) have unlimited long distance plans and unlimited mobile minutes (especially in the evening) the content is free. Of course, using service likes Skype or JaJah make international calls relatively inexpensive. There is also a fairly new mobile version of JaJah available.
We have some URL's to share in a moment but we would also like to point out that for some, still, a small amount of users who have the proper equipment (Smartphones and other mobile devices and wireless networks with enough bandwidth) and who pay for, in most cases, UNLIMITED data plans, the concept of having to download and then listen is a thing of the past. For example, using a Treo on the Sprint network we can listen to any podcast or in many cases, LIVE programming ON-DEMAND with a click or two. From radio shows (live) to airport control towers, just a click away on my phone. Again, this is still not for most people.
Now, back to cellcasting/phonecasting/mobilcasting:
Players in this space include:
Some free, some fee-based. For example, here's a page that provides a phone number to listen to This Week in Tech.
A growing directory along with the opportunity to enter a podcast URL and then receive a phone number to listen gowing forward. Here's an entry page for a podcast from the Mayo Clinic. Note the dial-in phone number in the entry. It's free to create a podcast phone number.
+ Podlinez. From PhoneCasting.
Two clicks and you're podcast is now available on the phone. Free.
+ Mobilcast from Melodeo.
Downloadable app that works on more than 50 phones.
See Also: Get Ready for Cellcasts (via TechNewsWorld/BusinessWeek)
The article is also available directly from BusinessWeek.
+ NPR's New Mobile Site and Phonecasting Services (via Read/Write Web)
Marshall Kirkpatrick does an awesome job (as always) with an overview of some new mobile services from National Public Radio that includes phonecasting.
++ Fast Facts
+ Direct to New Mobile Site ||| Direct to new Text Only Mobile Site
++ Learn More and Get Numbers to Dial and Listen (on ANY telephone) to Selected Content* from both NPR (national) and Local NPR Stations Using Your Phone
If you want to listen to a continuous stream from an NPR station on your phone (assuming you have the needed tools and bandwidth, Tuned.Mobi can likely offer you a direct link to the stream.
UPDATE: Direct Links to Local NPR Mobile Sites Available Here
+ As we noted earlier, PublicRadioFan offers a directory of over 1100 public radio podcasts from NPR, CBC, BBC, etc.
+ See Also: UpSNAP began offering mobile content from WFAE (NPR in Charlotte) in December, 2006.