During the Basel Blogmeet, somebody mentioned podcasting.
I’ve got my thoughts and theories on audioblogging (of which podcasting is one form). I think it’s great to hear people talking. I’ve got some audio content on my site (whether provided by me, or by third parties) and if I wasn’t in want for a mike and sound editing skills, I’d be providing more. However, audio blogging will never kill text blogging (if anybody out there was having such a preposterous thought).
The great disadvantage of audio content is that you cannot skim it. You can fast-forward, of course, and jump sections, but you can’t go quickly through the content and resume a normal speed if something catches your ear, as you do with written content. Audio is a “fixed speed” medium (ok, you can accelerate it slightly, but it becomes unintelligible quickly). It takes longer to listen to something than to read it.
The big advantage of audio, however, is that it doesn’t use your eyes. Audiobooks haven’t taken over the market share of normal books, but one might find it nice to listen to an audiobook in the car (where one cannot read whilst driving). If you’re sight-impaired, of course, the issue takes a different colour, if I may say.
Transcripts and indexes of audio content are precious… but what a huge amount of work!
This means, in my opinion, that your audio content must be good from start to finish, if you want to keep people hooked.
If I start reading a blog post and it doesn’t catch my attention after a few lines, I’ll skip to the next paragraph, skim a bit, and maybe decide that it is worth reading after all. If I’m listening to audio content and it gets boring, I might fast-forward a bit, but I’ll land blind. The index will help me sort through the topics that may interest me, but it won’t help me deal with intermittence or absence of quality. If I listen to your podcast and it’s lousy, am I going to keep listening in hope that it gets better? Will I try again if I’ve listened to 30 minutes of it and it wasn’t worth it? I think that if you want a podcast to be successful, you have to be much more strict on quality than with written material.
Anyway, back to beercasting. When Suw and I met in London last summer, we talked about audioblogging (one word or two?), and agreed on the fact that one of the departments in which audio could shine was in reproducing conversations. We had a half-hearted plan to call each other and record the conversation, but we never did it, of course. We’ve got a more serious plan now to do it on Skype (less technical difficulties). Have you realised how talking with somebody helps shapes ideas and thoughts, and express them clearly? There is something about being more than one that cannot be duplicated when one is alone. It introduces a dynamic.
Well, that’s what beercasting is about. Get together, have a conversation, and stick it on the web. So when we started talking about podcasting on Saturday evening, I suddenly remembered beercasting, and must have said something about it, because Ben whipped out his phone, switched on the recording function, and set it on the table. He had been provoked by my statement that podcasting (and beercasting) was done with an iPod 🙂
Well, a few audio files are now online one Ben’s site. If you’re interested in loud static and café background noise, and in hearing me yelling my head off to try to communicate with my fellow bloggers (with bonus German content), I recommend you start with Recording2. It’s bad, remember. Don’t say you weren’t warned. We’ll do better next time!