aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Apple makes podcasting mainstream
So says the Times:
So far, Apple has worked this kind of magic on digital video editing, wireless networking, online music selling, R.S.S. feeds (a kind of Web site subscription) and other technologies. Its latest attempt, however, will be music to an awful lot of ears. With its release of the free iTunes 4.9 software for Mac and Windows, Apple has just mainstreamed podcasting.
No David Coursey, the Times isn’t part of a tired technology press hungry for the next big thing. Apple says that within 48 hours of its release, Pod people had subscribed to more than a million podcasts. Something real is happening here.
The big question is, why is Apple working so hard to claim the podcast phenomenon as its own? After all, the company doesn’t make any money when you listen to or subscribe to a podcast. The Price column in iTunes says Free for every single podcast, and Apple says it has no intention of changing that.
Clearly, the motivation behind Apple’s podcasting program is selling more iPods. You can certainly get podcasts onto other music players, but not with the effortless, automated flow of the iTunes-iPod system.
In other words, these free podcasts are just another feather in the iPod’s cap. As an editorial at daringfireball.net astutely observed, Apple is flipping the traditional business plan on its head. It’s giving away the razor blades, but selling a staggering number of razors.
Those razors play iMusic and the iMusic Store is where you go to subscribe to podcasts. They’re not just selling razors, they’re selling blades. The free offer that gets folks in your store is as tried and true as they come. I’m just glad it’s podcasts.
The new iTunes makes my job easy. I can focus more on the content. We start our campus podcasts in September.
Watch for it
Ken Tomlinson was the guest on Sunday’s Q&A. He seemed very prepared and careful, right on message; Brian Lamb was a perfect place for him to do this. But he promises something I expect will be much more interesting:
LAMB: At the hearing that we covered recently, you were challenged to debate Bill Moyers. And you said yes.
TOMLINSON: I would be happy to debate Bill Moyers. It’s not going to be good for public broadcasting because the more Tomlinson and Moyers talk about what has happened in public broadcasting, the more people are going to say, wait just a second, something is not right in public broadcasting.
There should have been balance through the years. You know, balance is something—C-SPAN proves that balance is something that is achievable if you put it as a priority. And I don’t demand a tape measure be applied to every show or every night, but you can feel the balance of C-SPAN.
And in recent years you felt unbalanced in sections of programming in public broadcasting.
LAMB: Did anybody follow up and suggest that that actual debate be held?
TOMLINSON: Oh, if Mr. Moyers wants to do it, then we’ll have lunch and we’ll plan something. As I said, I don’t think it’s good for public broadcasting but I’m certainly willing to do it.
LAMB: Will it be in a public forum?
LAMB: Coverable by this network and others?
TOMLINSON: I assume so.
LAMB: And do you think it will be soon?
TOMLINSON: I think it will probably be in the fall, in September.
Now that will be worth watching. Of course, by then he’ll no longer be chair and we’ll have instead his close ally, New Jersey lawyer and real-estate developer (and major GOP donor) Cheryl F. Halpern, who believes journalists should be penalized for biased programs.
As it becomes increasingly politicized (it’s never been good on that score) my antipathy to public broadcasting continues to build.
Media Matters has more on the C-SPAN interview.
Information viruses refuted
What really sticks in the craw of conventional journalists is that although individual blogs have no warrant of accuracy, the blogosphere as a whole has a better error-correction machinery than the conventional media do. The rapidity with which vast masses of information are pooled and sifted leaves the conventional media in the dust. Not only are there millions of blogs, and thousands of bloggers who specialize, but, what is more, readers post comments that augment the blogs, and the information in those comments, as in the blogs themselves, zips around blogland at the speed of electronic transmission.
This means that corrections in blogs are also disseminated virtually instantaneously, whereas when a member of the mainstream media catches a mistake, it may take weeks to communicate a retraction to the public… The charge by mainstream journalists that blogging lacks checks and balances is obtuse. The blogosphere has more checks and balances than the conventional media; only they are different. The model is Friedrich Hayek’s classic analysis of how the economic market pools enormous quantities of information efficiently despite its decentralized character, its lack of a master coordinator or regulator, and the very limited knowledge possessed by each of its participants.
In effect, the blogosphere is a collective enterprise - not 12 million separate enterprises, but one enterprise with 12 million reporters, feature writers and editorialists, yet with almost no costs. It’s as if The Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising.
Yes! Read the whole thing. I’ve put more highlights in the extended entry.
I had a student spend hours and several phone calls to Apple trying to get the two songs he had lawfully purchased from the iTunes Music Store onto his new iPod. The iPod was a gift, he doesn’t have a computer, so he came to the lab to load it.
The 2 songs he bought were on the iPod, but wouldn’t play. We updated the iPod and the computer’s operating system. Still no luck. Tech support told him to erase his iPod and start over. He didn’t.
CLARIFICATION: I’m generally favorable toward the iPod, iTunes and the iMusic Store, and I am not an anti-DRM absolutist. Reasonably priced easily accessible consumer friendly digital media is fine by me. Still, I think a healthy Free Culture movement will only improve iPod usability.
Pooh poohing blogging and podcasting: a rebuttal
I just listened to David Coursey on Web Talk via IT Conversations. He jokes that virtually no place he’s worked is in business anymore and, after listening, I think maybe that should have told me something.
Wowee, does he NOT get it.
He prefers email to RSS which he considers “just another way to subscribe to something,” apparently missing how it makes surfing for news a joy. The iPod is an over-praised overnight sensation three years in the making. And on blogs he says people will “realize the limitations both of the medium and of the people who create it.” He considers all of it hype from a tired technology press hungry for the next big thing.
Pretty much, in general and in particular, I don’t think the guy gets any of it at all. He’s sooo stuck in the twentieth century.
His major summary point is that there’s no business model to make any of this grassroots media work. It takes a long time and a lot of work to do it well and there simply isn’t the money to make it worth it:
[my transcription @ 38:43] I’m sure there’s a lot of egos out there that feel much better until the amount of work for the amount of ego gratification received starts, you know, sliding in the wrong direction… some people will build a business doing podcasts but as a hobby I think it’s going to be awful time consuming to do it well and a lot of the content is going to be highly suspect… Information viruses spread by podcast… what people seem to be excited about is, you know, real sort of low end personality driven and I don’t think that that will last.
Hm. Where to begin. The elitism of high-end v low-end always bugged me. Broadcasters set the production standard and want to hold us all to it, not the other way around.
I love high production values and will always appreciate them. I love high-end photography and will always appreciate it. But a huge percentage of the photos I look at come from amateurs. And I don’t judge them by the professional photography standard. I’m able to appreciate them despite, even because of, the difference in production values.
I like them precisely for what they are and where they come from. I don’t judge the local church choir by the standard set by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Instead, I appreciate the joy of my community coming together to raise its voice in song. That thrill is real and legitimate all by itself.
But more, I don’t think our current system finds the best talent. I bet there’s some great talent right here in my little town that our star/studio system hasn’t figured out how to find. I think talent is distributed everywhere and these technologies can set it free. I really do.
Now here’s the romance I’d like to associate with blogging: At the time of our nation’s founding, a time before movies and television and professional sports or any of the other modern leisure time diversions, at that time politics was sport. Civic engagement was recreation. Politics and civic life were engaging.
Citizens then were engaged in not just the consumption of culture, but the production of culture. And their motivation was cultural, not commercial. I like to think that because of the new and emerging technologies we’re seeing a return to that today. And that return is good and valuable and inevitable. Many in the business of content creation don’t tend to like it, but it can’t be stopped. And I will do everything I can to help speed it along.
Sex v torture & guns v Grokster
In Clinton’s time, the issue was the definition of sex.
In Bush’s, the issue is the definition of torture.
Shoot someone? Not Smith & Wesson’s fault.
Copy a movie? Grokster’s fault.
SEE ALSO: my post Grokster and Guns.
What’s missing today
There is no doubt that Lance Armstrong’s seventh straight victory in the Tour de France, which has prompted sportswriters to rename the whole race the Tour de Lance, makes him one of the greatest U.S. athletes of all time. What I find most impressive about Armstrong, besides his sheer willpower to triumph over cancer, is the strategic focus he brings to his work, from his prerace training regimen to the meticulous way he and his cycling team plot out every leg of the race. It is a sight to behold. I have been thinking about them lately because their abilities to meld strength and strategy - to thoughtfully plan ahead and to sacrifice today for a big gain tomorrow - seem to be such fading virtues in American life.
Sadly, those are the virtues we now associate with China, Chinese athletes and Chinese leaders. Talk to U.S. business executives and they’ll often comment on how many of China’s leaders are engineers, people who can talk to you about numbers, long-term problem-solving and the national interest - not a bunch of lawyers looking for a sound bite to get through the evening news. America’s most serious deficit today is a deficit of such leaders in politics and business.