I recently had a bit of an epiphany as to just why Podcasting will be huge. I’m sure its obvious and must have occurred to others but just in case I thought I’d blog it.
Its all entropy you see, all entropy. Entropy or the natural tendency of the universe to move from order to disorder. Wikipedia on Entropy and for the physics geeks out there I know all too well that I’m simplifying; its my blog after all. An iPod, when you get it, has no songs on it (for reasons described by Mark Cuban), and then you start putting songs on it. Each song increases the entropy by a little bit. Fill the iPod completely and you’ve maximized its entropy. Now here’s the important part — you can’t easily pay for enough music to fill a 30 gig iPod much less a 60 gig iPod. So something’s gotta go there — and it’ll likely be Podcasts.
Now, put another way, and disregarding the whole entropy babble, look at it this way: Most iPods or other portable MP3 players, are basically little hard drives and when has a hard drive in your life ever stayed empty for long? People will fill up the hard drives on their players because, well, they always do. And given that music is too damn expensive to fill the player with it will be either pirated music or Podcasts. And while I’d never bet against piracy*, I’d wager that great Podcasts like Dawn and Drew will drag people into the Podcast world and that will lead to other podcasts and so on.
So podcasting is gonna be huge.
*That’s a fools bet at best.
When I was speaking at search engine strategies a few days ago, I had this wonderful discussion about podcasting with Randall (Hi Randall; hope all is well; sorry I can’t link to you but I lost your business card). Randall is in the real estate business and they want to do a podcast. Like a lot of real internet businesses, they own their own hardware and want to do podcasts but are concerned about the bandwidth. Yeah I could argue about how bandwidth is cheap, etc but the simple fact is that he was right and I was wrong.
Regardless of how bandwidth is priced, the fact is that he feels its expensive so the question became to me:
How do I make him realize that there is cheap bandwidth out there?
And then, in a flash of clarity like a bolt from above, it struck me: The answer is in DNS. DNS or “domain name system” is what matches up Internet IP addresses to Internet hostnames. And, like many geeks, I often thing that the answer is in DNS. And what he really needs is to do this:
- Start podcasting
- Create podcasts.FOO.com where FOO.com is the company’s real DNS name.
- Set up an alias for podcast.FOO.com because people will get the singular versus plural wrong anyway.
- Store all of your podcast media files whether video or audio on a cheap server like TextDrive or ServerBeach or whatever. You don’t need expensive bandwidth and 5 9s of reliablity for media files. As different companies come out and are cheap then rotate your DNS entries onto some new hosting place.
See? Wasn’t that simple? Seriously tho if you’ve got a real data center and you want to experiment with something like podcasting, don’t store the data files on your SAN or use up bandwidth at in your real NOC. Just get some cheap hosting and get on it. DNS can isolate you from all but very temporary breakages.
So I’m seeing Niall and Om and “I wanna be like them”. Seriously though. I’m definitely fascinated by podcasting, I’ve got the iPod 60 gig, and I feel that I’m ready to actually *gasp* create a podcast. What occurs to me that might be interesting to the 13 people who read this blog is this : Tech War Stories. I’ve been in technology for so damn long now and worked with so many characters that perhaps tossing out some of those stories like:
- Every startup needs a green football
- The day paul got a gun or “How to become a consultant in 1 easy step”
- Real engineers can explain their code
- Everyone needs a Geek Kit
If this sounds interesting to you then leave a comment and I’ll start working on it. Most of my best stories are actually pre-Internet so that gives them an aura of “Aged Bits”.
Oh and my 4.5 year old, Alex, has agreed to help. He wants to be the Internet’s youngest podcaster:
- Tap into the public OPML directories.
- Expect the public OML directories to all be in slightly different flavors of OPML.
- Regularly revise and test your regex’s if you use a regex based OPML parser. We’ve never been comfortable with any of the public OPML parsing libraries so we rolled a regex parser and use it regularly while often griping about it. 😉
- Don’t expect sites like Odeo to support a public, parseable directory. Understanding their URL syntax tho will go a long way.
- Expect that lots of things won’t appear in any directory. I just finished writing a “Deep Discovery” tool that utilizes our database of 17 million plus feed urls and scans it for podcasts. Right now its added another 500 podcasts (which doesn’t sound like a lot but when your base is 38,000 or so, its actually statistically significant) (oh and its still running). (Up to 640 more feeds since I started this post)
- Realize that there are lots of non-US podcasting sites. We’ve even found podcasting in russian.
- Realize that people may consider themselves podcasters but never have encountered an enclosure tag in their lives. I don’t want to name names but this was very, very surprising to me.
- Subscription and Metadata standards are confused. Things like the iTunes metadata extensions (example feed using them) versus the iTunes pcast files and the pcast:// psuedo urls.
Right now implementing podcast search is a lot like implementing blog search was when we started Feedster — confused and emergent. You’ll have to do a rat load of work you don’t want to and don’t feel should be necessary. But, in the end*, it’ll be worth it.
*there can be only one. *Insert Geek Pop Culture Referential Chuckle Here*