John C. Dvorak Trashes Podcasting and IT Conversations

In his online column today, John C. Dvorak explores the podcasting phenomenon. Unfortunately he uses IT Conversations as his only example and he spends nearly half his time analyzing the site’s user interface. The result is an analysis of podcasting that is both superficial and inaccurate.

Podcasting isn’t about the HTML interface. It’s about the RSS feeds and the transparent (i.e., no UI) transfer of audio files directly to players. Did Dvorak use one of the many fine podcatching (receiving) utilities, even one for Windows? No. He missed the point and focused on orthogonal issues.

IT Conversations is to podcasting what eBay is to brochureware web sites. You can podcast without any web site at all. You just need to generate an RSS 2.0 feed with audio-file enclosures. The typical podcast web site is nothing more than a link to one or more MP3 files, and for good reason. Most podcasts are intentionally current and short-lived whereas IT Conversations is all about the 230 programs in its growing archives and hence has an infrastructire and UI to help users find their way through the catalog. IT Conversations also offers many beyond-podcasting features such as streaming as well as downloading, AAC as well as MP3, Windows Media Player support, tracking of the shows you’re heard, email notification of new shows and much more.

IT Conversations predates the podcasting phenomenon by over a year, and I’m sorry that IT Conversations is being held up as a negative example of this exciting and explosive phenomenon. Had Dvorak subscribed to one of IT Conversations (many) RSS feeds and used a podcatacher, he would have had a much better sense of what podcasting was all about. Better yet would have been to skip IT Conversations altogether and review one of the many great podcasting pure plays. Instead he test-drove a tank and concluded that cars are too hard to park.

Well, what do you expect from a guy who puts circuses at the top of his pecking order of entertainment?

Update: John goes after Todd Cochrane at Geek News Central, too.

16 thoughts on “John C. Dvorak Trashes Podcasting and IT Conversations

  1. Doug, ignore Dvorak. IT Conversations and an iPod have changed my life. I started downloading and listening after I bought the iPod. Now I listen to a conversation every time I run (about 5 times a week). And I have no problems with the site, it’s easy to use and find the conversations I want.

    Thanks, and keep up the good work!


  2. Hey Doug,

    Eh, that’s just Dvorak. He is baiting. And, I’m wondering if this was a ‘throw away’ (need to fill space, so doesn’t bother to investigate) column. Plus, he’s had a ‘Mac burr in his ….” for many years. Why he looks at this and only sees Mac, I dont’ know.

    Dvorak’s ‘Windows-Linux community’ comment was kinda – hmm? ‘funny’? Guess he didn’t see ‘Doc Searls’ there? (Or, did he?)

    Of course, I’m still wondering where Podcasting will go. But it is so new. There is a bit of ‘pie in the sky’ hype going around.

    I’m hooked. Regardless. I turned my brother on to it, also.

    This is the kind of content I’ve been starving for – and for a long time, too. Where else am I going to get the chance to ‘hear’ these people that I’ve been reading?

    You’re doing great work and it is appreciated!

    I’m enjoying your programming so much! Thanks and take care.


  3. Doug,

    Please, don’t feed the troll. Your programming is really great. I think the number of downloads speaks volumes. Don’t doubt yourself. IT Conversations has already become a trademark of quality and professionalism in IT radio/podcasting.

    Although I don’t own an iPod, I listen to most of the shows on my PC. Thank you for your hard work!


  4. Problem is: We know better (especially about what Doug is giving to us) but from a normal point of view his column reads okay till thrustworthy.

    But, I think he choose an excellent starting point. From a listeners point of view, it conversations is a great place to start looking at podcsting: Because it is this good in content and presentation [yes Doug, even so I bashed you on Gilmore Gang, I still listen ;o)], people will think “hm, that’s not so bad after all. okay, I don’t have an ipod but hey – direct information from blogger con? Hm, Malcom Gladwell interview? Let’s hear it.”

    People will have a look at Doug’s website and discover treasures there. Not the slashdot nerd fraction but the rest of the world, which like techtalk but also does like engadget like gadget-talk.

    And these are the comming listeners for other podcasts. Once they have taken a bite out of the well baked delicious cake, they might try out some of the other cookies called podcasting. And perhaps find out, that they still like cake more. Or something else.

    And a quote from my favorite tv show west wing: “If they are shooting at you, you know you are doing something right.”


  5. Dvorak, with regards to discussions to new uses of technology, is constantly proving he’s out of touch.

    Dvorak: podcasting means i program the content i hear in my car, all of it. My co-worker replaced his car radio with an MP3 cd-player and didn’t bother reconnecting the antenna. Forget paying for satellite feeds, i’ve got an internet feed of my choosing. And the tools are making this easier to do each week.


  6. Oh boy, John Dvorak is bashing some new technology saying it has no future? This has been going on since at least 1984 when he said “The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse.’ There is no evidence that people want to use these things.” This is also the guy who has claimed as recently as last month that focusing on the iPod will “ruin” Apple. As a Mac user, I take his trashing of the iMac as a great sign for the new machine to bring in new people to the platform.

    All in all, though, this is great news for podcasting. As off topic as it is, the fact that Dvorak presents his usual belittling of Mac users means this article will get some exposure in the Mac press. Mac users, who are also typically enthusiastic iPod users, will be exposed to the idea of podcasting through this article. More users means more producers, means more users, and so forth.


  7. Who reads PC Magazine anyway ;-).

    More seriously, I would not bother. Any new technology evolution or revolution has seen many nay-sayers doubting or rediculizing it.

    I only wish that podcasting did not have this Mac/iPod feel to it which is misleading and somehow limiting (“Does that mean that it only works on an iPod ?”).


  8. Dvorak should try to swim in new technologies awhile before dismissing them so publicly and ignorantly. What he wrote is the equivalent of sticking his toe in the podcasting pool and saying “it’s too cold!”

    Keep up the great work, Doug. I’m a non-iPod, Doppler-using, PC-based podcasting consumer and I think it’s cool stuff.


  9. The cynical person in me says that people criticize the new in an effort to drive traffic to their sites, not because they hold any real conviction or have any really relevant to say.

    Of course we could (and should) make podcasting simpler, easier to understand and easier to use, but it’s not exactly rocket science as it is. If Dvorak can’t sort it out, maybe he could get some fourth grader to come over and explain it to him.


  10. Well, well, well. John Dvorak dissing podcasting, and he didn’t even try it. What a surprise.

    Like someone mentioned, this is the same person that didn’t think the Macintosh would go anywhere. And his comment about the “Windows-Linux community” had me in stitches for several minutes. I’m still giggling!

    You see, back in 1995, John went to and “supposedly” downloaded and installed Red Hat Linux (I think it was 2.x at that time).

    Now, I say “supposedly” because if you pay attention closely to his article, John doesn’t know how to download! (John, right click on the link next time!) He still can’t use a computer after more than 20 years in the tech journalism business. Yet in 1995, he supposedly installed Red Hat Linux 2 and didn’t see a future in it.

    Ignore the fool. He’s a media whore.


  11. Not ready for Primetime? Ok. But I would seriously hope not considering that Podcasting is just catching on in its infant stages. Anyone with a small amount of imagination can see the potential for the technology.

    Mac only? Huh? I guess the guy doesn’t know what XML is or that it doesn’t care what platform it is used on. XML is XML. Media enclosures can be downloaded to a SmartPhone or mp3 player as well – someone just needs to write the software that does it…and thats going to happen very soon.


  12. Podcasting really is lame and boring. How come people get so pissed off, when someone says this? It’s really the emperors new clothes over again. Noone cares if someone is doing his dishes, moving to another country, taking flying lessons or whining about not being accredited enough for his work. Boooring.. Sure, for the Podcasters and their friends it’s probably endlessly interesting, but to someone halfway around the world, it’s just plain depressing..


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