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April 06, 2006


Alfred Thompson

I am every bit as impatient as you are. Absent a long commute (which I hope never to have again) podcasts are pretty much useless to me. I can get a lot more in a lot less time reading.

Dharmesh Shah

I'm the same way. I read a bunch of blogs dialy, but hardly ever listen to a podcast or watch a video (unless it comes strongly reccommended).

My reasons are the same: Its simply too inefficient. Sort of why I hate voicemail (vs. email). It just takes too long to scan and we live in an age of short attention spans.


Quicktime supports chapters in an audio file, allowing a podcast to be broken into separate sections for easy advancement. You can also include images for display during playback. These features are supported by the AAC file format used by Quicktime/iTunes.

MP3 is commonly supported across all devices and that is why I use it instead of WMA or AAC. I could perhaps output multiple files for various playback methods but that gets a bit too complicated for me, the producer.

Another option is transcripts, but that's a bit long to read. I occasionally include transcripts for easy quotes and skimming.

David Cruickshank

Great post. I agree but I do listen to podcasts when it is more convenient to do so - i.e. walking to work (it's harder to read whilst walking!)

So it's down to an obsession with convenience, speed and efficiency I guess.

Don Dodge

Thanks for all the comments. It is nice to know I am not an odd edge case.

Niall, thanks for the insight on podcast options. I agree it is a pain for the producer to offer different formats and summaries.

My guess is the technology will improve, ease of use will improve, tools for summarizing and tagging will improve, and search engines will do a better job of ranking and relevance. Then podcasts will be much more popular.

Danny Sullivan

I used to be the same way, Don. I couldn't be bothered listening to podcasts when I could read a summary much faster. But it's always dangerous to use your own personal habits to predict broadly. I spoke with others who did listen to podcasts. They liked them because they were working and multitask just fine while listening to something. Or they were jogging or driving or doing stuff where they cannot read. That's one reason we started doing our own podcasts, and the reaction was remarkable. Tons of people are listening, because it lets them tune-in to our content in another way that might suit them. I'd never give up writing about stuff, but I know we'll see podcasts continue to grow, if they have the right content.

Eric Olson

I think you are probably right about the users mindset. I too can easily scan many blog posts quickly and efficiently and it is hard to do that with rich media at this point.

I produce a podcast and, in the beginning, my shows were running almost an hour (with a large group of guests) and my listeners asked for something more like 15 minutes that could easily fit into a commute. Now the format is a 15 - 20 minute show, once a week (Monday night release), that covers all the top tech start-up news like company launches and VC financings. Hopefully this is a good time saver for people and not a time waster. I also post all the stories I talk about in an easy-to-read format on the site at VentureWeek.com so one can easily view the content, read specific posts or listen to the whole show if they please.

I'd appreciate any comments you have if you have a chance to check out the site.


I agree. Podcasts can't be easily indexed, searched, scanned, etc., though they are very enjoyable and relaxing to listen to when you are not in a "I need to get the gist of this QUICK". I read somewhere that they have more appeal than blogs/text because you can multitask during consumption. But tagging, indexing, (Trasncripting?) is definitely important.

Dimitar Vesselinov

My Favourite Podcasts in 2005

IT Conversations
Gillmor Gang
On the Record...Online
For Immediate Release
Venture Voice
G'day World - ThePodcastNetwork
The Daily SearchCast
The Chris Pirillo Show
this WEEK in TECH
ZDNet Podcasts
NeoFiles with RU Sirius on MondoGlobo.net
Landed.fm Podcast


John Furrier

Of course I disagree.. I see the impact real time. Podcasting works and it connects people and ideas. I will grow and new metrics will emerge like attention.

Don Dodge

Thanks for all the comments. It is clear that podcasts are useful to lots of people, perhaps more than the Forrester survey suggests.

Many people listen to podcasts on their commute to work. I don't commute...I work from home most of the time, so I don't have that idle time.

I think podcast technology will improve, and the producers will create shorter, tighter, podcasts of 10-15 minutes for the ADD crowd...me included.

John, Niall, OM, and Danny are rock stars in their field and have been successful at both podcasting and blogging. They are a good model to follow. I will sample some podcasts and see what I am missing.

Vicki Kunkel

You hit the nail on the head, Don, when you said most audio and video "is live and unrehearsed so it can tend to wander off topic and continue on needlessly." People think that the same rules of editing and conciseness don't apply to audio and video, but they do. (Or, they should!) That's why unless you are skilled in editing electronic media, you'd best stick to blogs. And if you ARE going to use video and audio and you don't have the skills to create a crisp, clear, concise presentation, then hire someone who does have those skills. Podcasting does not lend itself as easily as blogging to the amateur ranks.

Having said that, to be an effective blogger you need clear, concise writing skills as well. I have seen some that are so wandering and disjointed I couldn't comprehend what the author was trying to convey.

Great comments by all here!

Brian Sullivan

I have commented on the same thing in the past:


What ever happened to Podscope btw ?-- I haven't really been following.

Jay Currie

I've never really got the point of a podcast or video - but I'm like you and skim the 'net.

I'm not sure that tagging or any other indexing strategy is going to help. I am just not willing to make the time to listen or watch the people I would happily read.


Long time listener, first time caller...

I don't have any links at the moment, but the audio and video that I listen to (or produce, about 70% of the time) sound well planned, and are short enough that they really don't even have the chance to ramble or go off topic. I'm a speed reader and writer myself, and I prefer text to listening or viewing video IF I am actively working. But audio knowledge, I find, is the perfect companion to exercising instead of music - what's great about podcasts is that I can burn and listen later.

With video, sometimes a 5 - 30 minute video will teach me more than 200 pages of text and screenshots will.

And on the publisher side, I find that people who listen to audio are more likely to take action (I send them to different versions of sales pages so I can track). So it's far from perfect, and not everyone likes audio or online video, or even screencasts, and I'm one of them.

But there's no way I'm locking out my clients who Do want audio and video just because of my preference. The audience is small, but it's out there, and since it tends to convert better, it's worth the trouble.


I agree on podcasts - but being generation X I never really "listened" to the radio. It was always on but more as background noise than anything else. Something to fill the empty bits of my brain while I was working - but rarely something that was at the front of my brain. Therefore podcasts don't do much for me since I haven;t been 'trained' to listen properly. (note, this is all pyschobable that has no relation to any science but is just the way I feel).

On the other hand, I think video casts will take off. It's a medium - moving talking pictures - that most people are comfortable with and that is addictive.

It's a medium that advertisers are comfortable with. Look at the cost of TV advertising over radio.

And five to minute videos are easy to watch. Look at the success of youtube or heavy.com.


I have always liked speech radio so podcasts fit into that slot for me. I usually download podcasts of the radio programmes that I would listen to if they were broadcast at the right times.


Well, if Podcasts were encoded into tracks, much as a CD, and those tracks were tagable, they could be searched, much in the way that Don Dodge suggested.

Two things would need to happen.

1. change the way Podcasts are organized
2. write software to access it.

I would think this would happen in the next 18 months.

Orli Yakuel

Hi Don,

Have you tried :
(A link to the last episode).

I think podcasting can be very useful and much more interesting from just reading a post or an article. But I do think it's have lots to do with the host of the podcast and regarding to TalkCrunch, Michael Arrington, just do it right.

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