Podcasting did not actually start one year ago tomorrow*. However, on September 28, 2004, Doc Searls presented an overview of podcasting on his IT Garage weblog in which he included a Google search of the word “podcasts” and came up with 24 results (today, that word results in over 60 million mentions).
Why is “podcasting” as a notion, as a concept, as a word, so universally used (and misused) in just 12 months?
Here are some reasons:
It is a simple notion utilizing universally available, free and open-source software: it’s merely enclosing an audio file in an RSS feed post. It has an inspired, now-impossible-to-trademark, generic name that drafts off the trademark of one of the world’s most desired consumer electronics products among marketers’ most coveted demographic. And with unprecedented wisdom and to my amazement, the Apple lawyers didn’t sue anyone over the word “podcast.” Most importantly: As noted here last year, the brand managers and marketing gurus and “faux garage start-ups” and VC firms and media brands, despite their near-immediate dive-in reaction time, still entered the arena too late to screw up the early weeks and months of podcasting. Even when Apple blessed it and validated it and introduced the “outside” world to podcasting, even they were too late to screw it up (totally).
So, just for the record on this anniversary, I want to once more say:
Before the coming podcasting boom and bust, it was just a grassroots notion. Before we cycle through the inevetiable macro-myopic journey of over-expectation and disappointment, I want to say once more that podcasting is going to greatly disappoint lots of people who think it’s about the money.
To think it’s about the money is to think e-mail is a business model (it is, of course, for some, including spammers). To think it’s about the money is to think instant messaging is a business model (it is for some adullt businesses and certainly has some customer service applications). But a pure-play business model?
Podcasting will be the platform (and notion) on which some people will increase their fortunes and new fortunes will be created. But not likely in a way you’ll see on a business plan. Podcasting has the potential to destroy other existing fortunes. There will be podcasting marvels and scams and spams and scandals (payola?). Podcasting will lead to things we haven’t even thought about today.
One thing is certain: Podcasting (RSS feeds with enclosed media files) is a notion that will be in the DNA of generations of future media. Including the kind where it’s just a few people sharing a conversation.
*The “birthdate” of podcasting is one of those topics that is best debated someplace likeWikipedia. In other words, not here. Here on the rexblog I will continue to call September 28, 2004 the beginning of the “era of podcasting” to mark a date related to when the awareness trajectory of podcasting turned skyward. As for the actual birthday, I need no debates. For me, it’s whatever date Dave Winer says it is.