Podcasting needs no eBay: [Updated] I’ve already said why I think podcasting has succeeded in 140 days. It’s precisely because those who are pioneering it are not turning it over to those who want to develop a central place for it.
I’m just an observer, okay. But despite my admiration for those involved, whenever I see articles like this in the NY Times about (arguably) the first people who got rich from anything related to blogging (not, from blogging, but from developing an early platform for bloggers and selling to Google, pre-IPO), jump into a business to create an “eBay for podcasters,” I cringe.
Odeo plans to base its business on the premise that the explosion of digital audio content has created the need for a central place to find relevant material and that there will also be a need for a market to buy and sell “premium” content in much the style of the eBay online marketplace.
I don’t understand how people I look up to can have such a misguided “premise” about podcasting.
Podcasting does not want to have a “central place.” The web hates central places. I use eBay as both a buyer and seller and believe me, I hate that it’s a central place as it is now a monopoly. Knowing what we know now, would early adopters of eBay say I want there to be a monopoly running the online auction market? I wish an open, distributed alternative to eBay existed.
I’m all for marketplaces developing for podcasts. But podcasting is more than “programming” — this is where those metaphors of old media for new mess up investors. Podcasting “programming” can be as simple as leaving a voice mail message. Podcasting programming can be a recording of a sales meeting that is distributed via RSS to employees who are traveling.
Podcasting will open the way for self-produced audio and video programming to be available on an endless variety of marketplaces: audible.com, iTunes, Napster. Podcasters shouldn’t be looking for a “central marketplace” that marginalizes them. They should be integrated into all the markets that exist today — and more. No, on second thought, don’t waste your time on marketplaces. If you had spent the past 140 days worrying about marketplaces, there would be podcasting.
Flashback: On February 14, 2003 (two years ago), I posted these thoughts on another “eBay for blogging” concept:
In his dreams: Tony Perkins, an expert at losing money in magazine publishing (but then, aren’t we all?), is now claiming that his Always On Network (with the URL www.alwayson-network.com, not the more memorable and obvious one) will help usher in the “ebayization” of media. His innovation? A blog of business articles and some early contributions by
folks in his contacts file.
Quote from Perkins:
“The bloggers have shown us the value of truly participatory media sites, so we’re just going to bundle it up and polish it and commercialize it.”
Does that sound familiar, or what? But in 2003? I mean, how can a reporter just sit there and take down such a quote without laughing out loud in 2003?
I guess in 2005, one can say the same thing without drawing a laugh.
Update (7:42 p.m. CST): Why is Odeo causing me to have this negative reaction? When I realized this post is bringing new people to the rexblog (a link from Dave Winer does those sorts of thing), I felt the need to reflect on why I had such a negative “rapid cognition” to Odeo and why I would be so off-put by someone starting a company that, on its surface, seems like something that’s supportive of podcasting. After thinking about it on the drive home, I had to go back and re-read the NY Times article and then read the “back story” post on Ev’s blog to get to the bottom of my reaction.
Now I think I know why I found the news so hollow,
I think it’s because of the “just some guys in an apartment” shtick doesn’t ring true.
I think it’s because I’m envisioning someone writing a business plan about something that thousands of people around the world have actually created — with no business plan.
I think it’s because Odeo is a distraction from the real story.
I think it’s because I think podcasting is not a medium or platform or something someone can centralize in a marketplace. It’s a movement that will end up being countless different things in the hands and minds and ears of millions.
I think it’s also that when it comes to podcasting, Adam Curry and Dave Winer have walked the walk when they talked the talk: They have spent months evangelizing podcasting and devoting hours each day to creating a “movement” with a kind of giddy enthusiasm that only someone crazy-passionate about a concept, a notion, a cause — and not a business plan and demo — can understand.
I think it’s because opportunism should never be confused with passion.