Thursday, July 21, 2005

Competing Predictions for the Collapse of Podcasting

There is sort of a debate between Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution and Mark Cuban (i.e., of and now the impressively loudmouthed owner of the Dallas Mavericks) over the future of podcasting.

Cuban thinks it will flame out the way independent streaming radio did in the late 1990s; he should know, as he was involved in that era. But Tyler Cowen thinks the transition will have to do with the way the technology develops. He mentions that a big factor will be search portals:

Some people find blogs through Google, but most find them (I suspect) through other blogs. Podcasting may not work this way. The relative returns to "portal podcasts" will be lower than for portal blogs. Glenn Reynolds can read and process material faster than most people, but no one can hear a two-minute comedy routine in much less than two minutes (no need to write me about speeding up the tape, cutting out the dead space, etc., you get the point). So you won't find good podcasts through other podcasts to the same degree, since it is harder to serve as an effective portal. The sorting will work less well, and the categories will be harder to describe and communicate. Advertising will matter more, and institutions such as iTunes will have more influence over selection and content. Podcasting will be more in hock to MSM than are blogs.

One thing he doesn't mention is the possibility of Google or Microsoft devising audio search engines using voice recognition. I gather from friends in the industry that a lot of people are working on this, though I don't know how far along the development is. If a working version is released in the next year or so, podcasting could have more life in it than people think.

Ideally, that kind of search technology would also be incorporated into MP3 players, so you could search your own voice MP3/podcast collections in the manner of Google Desktop Search. Currently whatever content is stored in my MP3s is in a kind of black hole.

Cowen's last point about the role of the MSM seems right on. I have to admit, despite my hype-ridden posts on podcasting from a few months ago, I'm hardly listening to podcasts these days. The only one I consistently listen to is BBC4's In Our Time, because the topics are so ambitious and interesting (they are, however, currently on hiatus until September). I also listen to a fair amount of Radio Open Source, perhaps not surprisingly. Both are part of the mainstream media.

(Hint: check out their recent discussion of "Integration and extremism of Muslims in Europe" with Peter Berger and Reza Aslan.)

(Another thing: still no desi podcasts, as far as I know. I do get a fair number of people coming to this site looking for "Hindi podcast" or "Indian podcast"; sorry, not yet)


patrix said...

CSF has set up a podcast. I would love to hear Sepia Mutiny's podcast...hope they get on the bandwagon soon.

12:56 PM  
Amardeep said...

Thanks for the pointer.

I've actually only recently started following CSF, and have thus far been pretty impressed. (Though I must say I think both the URL name and the title of the blog are in somewhat poor taste...)

I gather the Podcast you're referring to is here? (I haven't listened to the MP3 Fadereu links to the library/no audio access...)

Also interesting is the CSF VLOG site.

1:16 PM  
Kerim Friedman said...

I can tell pretty quickly if a blog someone links to is worth my time or not. With podcasts I simply can't imagine subscribing to one I don't have good reason to believe will be worthwhile. I mostly use it as a means of time-shifting NPR/PRI shows I like - TiVo for the radio. I suppose if someone I trusted told me I should really listen to some podcaster out there I might give it a try, but there would have to be a very good reason to do so.

1:44 PM  
anangbhai said...

I'm trying to convince my robot overlords at to add a blog and podcasts to their website and have a weekly mixtape podcast released where we can give dj's more exposure through mixtape-podcasts and radio style podcasts. So far, no luck, apparently our webguy is too busy to add a few pages and an rss feed.

6:49 PM  
Rage said...

According to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, it seems like podcasting and RSS are still not that popular nationally, though...

10:46 AM  
Srikanth said...

Hullo, dropped in via Sepia Mutiny.

Just wished to mention that Google already has video search.

12:19 PM  
Srikanth said...

... which can search the audio track for keywords. I guess it should not be too far in the future to have a separate audio-search.

12:22 PM  
Seshu said...

I am considering a podcast out of TIFFINBOX ( and while skills, ambition and passion exists, time and reality haven't quite married yet. Will keep you posted through the site. I think you have a rockin' site man. Keep it coming.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous said...

Actually there IS an Indian Podcast. It is on Indian Contemporary Music and is hosted here :

Check it out !

1:14 AM  
Suresh said...

Could it possibly be a skill-gap ? That there are more people who can write passably well than can perform as DJs, or even speak 'on the air' reasonably well.

There are an abundance of podcasts, but overall the quality has been fairly uneven. This is true for blogs as well to a degree, but as it is so much easier to scan a blog and make quick decisions on a single post (MR's point), it is much easier to tolerate unevenness.

7:27 PM  
Raj and Aman said...

There is also another indian podcast about indian entertainment.

The Raj and Aman Radio Show

3:16 PM  
Anonymous said...

Check out, Indian Podcast.

3:57 AM  
Raghav Suri said...

Arre Amardeep

Check out my podcast at

5:36 PM  
Suja said...

There is a new site, focussing on South Asian podcasts.So far, there are Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, English, Marathi and Gujarati podcasts. We are continuously
adding more languages and genres. Check it out and let me know your comments.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous said...

loved it how everyone is plugging in their podcasts.hahaha Even I have a desi podcast but cannot plug it as shamelessly

3:53 PM  
why said...

What is your opinion, almost a year later? :)

5:42 PM  

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