“The coming broadcast apocalypse”

Instead of packing for my Christmas holiday, I spent Friday morning in a Twitter discussion about the state of podcasting, interactive audio and the state of broadcasting with Rob BoleRekha MurthyAdam SchweigertJosh Stearns and Benjamen Walker, among others. I summarized our exchanges on Storify. A couple of concluding thoughts:

  • Anyone chatting about podcasting over Twitter is part of a weird, nerdy, nice of information consumers and technology users. We are the 1%, not the masses, and using our experiences and preferences as a basis for anticipating the desires and behaviors of the 99% is dangerous business. (Of the two dozen or so people I’ll be spending the holidays with this week, maybe two could tell you what podcasting is. One is my spouse, the other is an audio producer.
  • Apps killed the podcast star: Despite the above, I now spend a lot more time with mobile apps like TuneIn Radio and Rdio then I do with audio streams that I subscribe to over iTunes. Pandora has 100 million listeners. I don’t know how many people subscribe to podcasts, but I’m pretty sure it is nowhere near 9 figures.
  • Like its cousins from the 00s RSS and citizen journalism, podcasting never fulfilled its promise as a vibrant mass medium. Remember the Dawn and Drew Show? Podcasting today is, for most Americans, a link in the iTunes store. Podcasting has become so marginal that the Pew Internet & American Life Project has done no research on the medium since George W. Bush was president.
  • Technology has advanced since podcasting’s emergence in 2004-05. As one friend observed,
    “Podcasting was briefly a necessity when Video Was Hard. Youtube webcam videos ate podcasting.”
  • If you ever find yourself in one of a spontaneous group Twitter chats I suggest adopting a hashtag as soon as you see it gaining momentum. Such a marker would have made tracking and summarizing this conversation easier.

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