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?