Podcasting — is this desktop publishing of the 21st Century?

Since I received my iPod Nano for Christ­mas, it has been with me daily. It’s been a source of enter­tain­ment and edu­ca­tion through Pod­casts — audio files con­tain­ing what used to be called radio pro­gram­ming when radio was the only way to listen to audio pro­grams.

Back in the day, you needed a multi-mil­lion mega­watt trans­mit­ter and multi-mil­lion dol­lar stu­dio to have your voice heard by the masses.

Today, through the advent of inex­pens­ive com­puters and mobile listen­ing tech­no­logy, today any­one can cre­ate their own ‘radio’ pro­gram, and many do! But should they?

In the lat­ter part of the last cen­tury, the same advent of inex­pens­ive com­puters made the concept of Desktop Pub­lish­ing a real­ity for many people who needed a voice.

Now’, they thought, Ëœwe can be read and people will listen to use because we can pro­duce a fan­zine, a news­let­ter, or even a real magazine, all from the com­fort of our home office.’ They didn’t need per­mis­sion of a news­pa­per edit­or, or magazine pub­lish­er, their thoughts were import­ant and we needed to read them. Oh Really?

If his­tory is a teach­er then we should learn the les­sons of desktop pub­lish­ers; just because you can work through the labor­i­ous pro­cess to make a news­let­ter, doesn’t mean that the res­ult­ing dead tree edi­tion will be worthy of read­ing. If we can’t under­stand the mes­sage, then the effort is wasted.

Many home busi­nesses were cre­ated around the concept of desktop pub­lish­ing (and many have since migrated to web devel­op­ment). These ‘pub­lish­ers’ cre­ated many news­let­ters, pamph­lets and pub­lic doc­u­ments for many oth­er small busi­nesses. And many were pure crap.

Grab the les­son and fast-for­ward to this cen­tury.

Today’s tech­no­logy enables you to do many things with the writ­ten word, with voice, and video. And many of these pro­duc­tions are also pure crap. Sturgeon’s law in action.

My think­ing? The time inves­ted learn­ing to use the gear to pro­duce the mes­sage should really be doubled — with much of it spent learn­ing the basics of com­mu­nic­a­tion first, and then learn the medi­um of com­mu­nic­a­tion. The tech is the easy part…communicating the mes­sage, that’s the hard part. Do that and you will be heard, and under­stood.

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2 Replies to “Podcasting — is this desktop publishing of the 21st Century?”

  1. Well said. I worked for a com­pany back in the early 80s that used the first Mac com­puters to provide lino­type-like ser­vices to quick print­ers. Every­one said that the new tools would lead to a mil­lion magazines. Every­one would have their own. It didn’t hap­pen, but we all saw a whole lot of crap before people real­ized that it wasn’t as easy to pro­duce a good pub­lic­a­tion as the equip­ment made it seem.

    I sus­pect you’re right and we’ll see a lot of crap before more of the right people get ahold of these tools and start pro­du­cing worth­while con­tent.

    But, hey, without these tools, a lot of great voices might have gone unheard. So the short term pain is worth it.

    Rick.

  2. Good point Rick, thanks.

    The short term pain is sift­ing the wheat from the chaff. There are people out there who do pro­duce excel­lent and enter­tain­ing pod­casts. They’re a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion that is appre­ci­ated.

    And there are also people who may have a point, but their mes­sage is lost because they haven’t mastered basic com­mu­nic­a­tion prac­tises.

    Frankly, I sus­pect the monks of the renais­sance felt the same way about that new-fangled Guten­berg press.

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