The (Short) Podcasting History

The portmanteau “podcast” derives from “iPod” and “broadcasting” – it reflects the ability of “horizontal” media transmission, as it is comparatively free of one facility licensing the technology. Essentially, podcasting is a platform of audio, video, and other files in an episodic series, downloadable via web syndication or streamed to devices.

The history of podcasting can be traced back to creation of RSS feeds (Rich Site Summary – standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information, a.k.a. Really Simple Syndication), developed by Dave Winer in collaboration with MTV VJ Adam Curry (www.mtv.com), who automated delivery and syncing of such content to portable audio players. Similar but different to radio, podcasts allow one to “tune in” and listen at anytime, off an internet-enabled device. While technically podcasting incorporates the iPod name, podcasting could be performed via non-iPod means. This was further reinforced when Apple, introducing iTunes 4.9 in 2005, sent “cease and desist” letters to independent developers or service providers using the word “pod.”

Enhanced podcasts are images accompanied by audio; podcast novels (narrated chapter by chapter via audio, using different voices, e.g.); video podcasts or vodcasts utilize similar programming, but accompanied by videos. Streaming video such as episodes offered by Netflix (or Amazon or Hulu, for that matter) have been categorized under “podcasts” using these definitions.


Present-Day Podcasting

Considered by many as a “democratization of radio,” present-day uses have included bands playing music, bloggers adding audio and video to reach an audience, or an alternative method of transmissions for radio stations. The lack of many copyright and sponsor issues (which may exist to some extent in some cases with podcast, but often are substantially fewer) also add to appeal of podcasts. While most do not result in earning money, they may fuel a passion and hence enjoyment in creation.

Listener audience interest can be encouraged via dedicated post networks, or establishing a link related to specific category comments. In terms of monetizing the idea, a few established podcasts have sold subscriptions (or per-episode costs), and others have utilized advertising space to generate some revenue – of course, dependent upon number of listeners, with proportional increase. Editing software programs such as Audacity which are open-source can be used, as can other options such as Garage Band (for Apple), Adobe, or Cool Edit Pro. Finally, saved as an MP3 file, it can be uploaded and played upon download remotely.


Pods of the Future

Podcasting of the future involves likely growth of an industry in its relative infancy. A recent series of postings by Netflix illustrates, for example, how podcasting may be better than already-created programming, in both its tailoring for audiences, distribution via the internet, and allowance of flexibility by the viewer.

In creation of “House of Cards,” Netflix used numerous innovative ideas, which likely portend what is to come – a combination of many of its 27 million viewers giving feedback in the form of big data, resources to be able to gather and create media, and the ability to distribute such media. As cited in a recent New York Times article, Netflix looks at “30 million plays a day, including when one pauses, rewinds, and fast forwards, as well as four million ratings by subscribers, and 3 million searches along with time of day when watched and on which devices.”

The marriage of data analytics and the relatively hassle (and lower cost) podcasting means all allow significant advantage. After all, hiring Kevin Spacey as a star, David Fincher as director, and choosing the topics of politics, Washington, and ruthless politician in a series was not as much what Netflix decided to do as much as what its viewers decided to do… and naturally, the success was predictable, because it gave the viewers what they wanted. History, it turns out, is a great indicator of the future – just ask Netflix in its recommendations to viewers.


(Information above has been acquired from numerous sources, including www.computer.howstuffworks.com, www.wikihow.com, www.digitaltrends.com, www.wikipedia.org, www.apple.com, www.nytimes.com, and www.ipodder.org, among others)