Podcasting (and the Left)

From Fortune magazine, no less

Pocasting. From MTV to MP3.

In the ’80s ponytailed heartthrob Adam Curry broke ground as one of MTV’s first veejays. Two decades later Curry, 40, has popped up at the intersection of blogs and radio.

In 2004 he and partner Dave Winer (the man many credit with inventing blogs) launched a site called iPodder.org, which allows listeners to automatically download podcasts—essentially bloggers’ webcasts—to MP3 players. About 2,500 podcasts are listed on the site, from sports shows to indie bands. Curry even hosts one about the podcasting world that has 50,000 subscribers.

Later this winter Curry and partners plan to launch a podcasting network, offering an edited selection of the web’s best dispatches and tools for neophytes to create their own casts. Just as blogs have challenged mainstream media, Curry predicts that podcasts will take on radio and satellite. “With podcasting, people can tune out the world and listen to whatever they choose,” says Curry. “In a way we’re really looking at the dismantling of the monoculture,” he says. Guess it’s a good thing he’s not at MTV anymore.

Dave Winer was instrumental in creating Radio Userland, the software this blog runs on, and in creating RSS, which is the bedrock upon which blogs exist.

Wikipedia on RSS

Functionally, RSS is a web syndication protocol primarily used by news websites and weblogs. A program known as an RSS aggregator or feed reader can check RSS-enabled webpages on behalf of a user and display any updated articles that it finds. RSS saves users from having to repeatedly visit favorite websites to check for new content or be notified of updates via e-mail. 

This blog subscribes to about 90 RSS news feeds. I read them in Radio, and can post any article from them onto Polizeros, adding my own thoughts. This is where the power is! It is how I read most of my news. It’s news when I want to read it and from the sources I want to read it from. Small blogs have RSS feeds which can be subscribed to for free, so do the NY Times and the BBC.

The XML button on this home page allows people to subscribe to the Polizeros news feed, which is everything that I post. Yahoo, as do most major media, also has XML feeds. You can read RSS feeds in a News Aggregator like Radio or in the Mozilla Firefox browser.

RSS also supports enclosures, which is attaching a file to a post so it can be downloaded. Adam Curry took the sending-MP3s-via-RSS-enclosure idea, which had been floating around, and with Winer, created iPodder, which allows RSS to send MP3s directly into your MP3 player, no human intervention needed.

Geek-to-English translation: Get iPodder, subscribe to the feeds you like. In the morning all the new MP3s will be waiting for you on your computer and in your MP3 player. You don’t have to check the site for the latest files, they are sent to you automatically. (This requires a broadband connection, Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code show, for example, is usually about 17 mb.)

Curry’s show starts with a maniacal voice screeching, “Transmitters, we don’t need no stinkin’ transmitters”, and that about sums it up! This is DIY broadcasting, no corporate intervention needed or required. Niche podcasts are popping up all over. Not only can you podcast about any topic you want, you can listen anytime you want, anywhere you want.

It really is about dismantling the monoculture, and that can only be good.

There’s not much out there yet in the way of Leftie podcasting. Air America podcasts all their shows, and Socialist Steve has a podcast. But there could be much more.

So, let’s start an antiwar podcast network of leftie blogs! Between all the leftie blogs, I bet there’s some excellent audio files already out there, just waiting to be podcasted, not to mention podcast interviews, clips from speeches at demonstrations and events, and lots more.

Podcasting is going to be huge, already major corporations are sniffing around, and it’s only six months old. The Left needs to establish a major podcast presence and to do it now. Leave comments if interested, let’s start something!

Some podcast directories

iPodder.org (click “Categories”)
Podcasting News
Podcast Alley 50 top rated podcasts
Podcast Bunker
. “We’re about podcast quality, not quantity!”

(Check my previous post for more on podcasting.)