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…


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

  1. Rick Grant Avatar

    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. Brad Grier Avatar

    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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