The grand podcasting experiment

The grand podcasting experiment

Summary: Speaking is different than writing. With writing, you can put together an argument and polish it through multiple edits until you reach writer's nirvana.

TOPICS: Browser

Speaking is different than writing. With writing, you can put together an argument and polish it through multiple edits until you reach writer's nirvana. With speaking, you can't do that. Even to the extent that you can in a pre-recorded audio file (audio files can be edited, too), there is something more nerve-jangling about speaking to an audience, even if that audience is the unseen and anonymous visitors to the ZDNet web site.

At least, that was my experience when putting together this podcast. On the other hand, my recent experience with PalTalk (an online IM chat forum that enables audio and video chats) has made more obvious to me that there is something powerful about the spoken word that can't be matched by the written one.

Anyway, this podcast is exhibit A in an ongoing experiment. It's 31 minutes long, and it talks about the nature of corporations within the context of technology markets. Future installments will likely be shorter, but I said that about my ZDNet articles and found myself writing three-installment behemoths.

The podcast is available as an MP3 that can be downloaded or, if you’re already subscribed to ZDNet's series of audio podcasts, it will show up on your system or MP3 player automatically. See ZDNet's podcasts: How to tune in.

Topic: Browser

John Carroll

About John Carroll

John Carroll has delivered his opinion on ZDNet since the last millennium. Since May 2008, he is no longer a Microsoft employee. He is currently working at a unified messaging-related startup.

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  • Not for me

    Sorry, but I don't see what the big deal is about podcasts. It is an interesting enough presentation, but I would prefer to speak to someone face-to-face. Voice alone is not sufficient; I need to see the facial expressions and other body language that go along with what is being said. Otherwise, I would rather just read it. That way, I can absorb the information at my own pace.

    To me, podcasts are a lot like colorizing old movies: a technological "solution" to no problem.

    Carl Rapson
    • There is no big deal...

      The only difference between podcast and good, ol'fashioned radio is the 1) the medium, and 2) the on-demand aspect. And maybe we can add a 3) people who could never get an FCC license, nor live within it's confines, nor be hired by the limited number of radio stations can still obtain a listening audience. Other than those, I really don't see a big deal either.
      John Le'Brecage
      • I just don't get...

        ...why we need to "hear" someone instead of reading them. Especially if we can't see them while we're hearing them. To me, the lack of visual interaction negates much of the benefit of verbal exchange.

        And I've never been much of a radio listener, either (same reason).

        Carl Rapson
        • I agree but excited by the potential

          "I just don't get...
          ...why we need to "hear" someone instead of reading them."

          Sometimes we can't read, like when driving a car.

          "To me, the lack of visual interaction negates much of the
          benefit of verbal exchange."

          True, good podcasting (like radio announcers) is an art.

          "And I've never been much of a radio listener, either (same

          I do like the ability to timeshift material from say Australia's
          Radio National. If its not something I'm interested in simply skip
          it, or I can listen to programs from times I'd not be able to

          Each to their own, but whilst I'm not a big user I can appreciate
          this exciting innovation.
          Richard Flude
          • I'm a timeshifter convert too

            I've been a big fan of on-demand broadcasts for a while, particularly the system that the BBC operate with their radio stations - most show are available online for a week after airing, with some special programmes kept for longer. Being streamed, though,you have to be online to listen, and the quality can vary depending on the network load. Now that I have a DAB digital radio which can record shows onto SD memory cards, I can record my favourites, take out the SD card, pop it in my iPAQ, and listen to them on the way to and from work and during my lunchbreak.
  • Your feed is blank

    You would expect a technology columnist to know something about his technology. What you have created is not a podcast. A podcast, as Russell Holliman noticed, is an audio file that is pointed to by the RSS 2.0 enclosure tag. Your RSS feed is missing the MP3 enclosure. Get with the program, people. How can I subscribe with my podcast catcher if you don't put the pointer to the MP3 file in your feed?

    If you'd like some help in how to set up a real podcast, I would recommend asking David Berlind. He's at ZDNet, and has a terrific podcast that has been up for some months, with a great reputation for good reporting, interesting guests, and a knack for poking holes in the PR spin meisters at the tech companies!

    Don't knock a technology you seem to know seriously little about.

    Charlie Quidnunc
    Podcasting Politics at
    • Ummm...

      ...I just post the bloody thing. I have no idea how ZDNet links it into their RSS feed.

      And where do you get the idea I am "knocking" podcasting? For crying out loud, I did a 31 MINUTE PODCAST (or audio file not linked to by RSS, excuse the hell out of me).
      John Carroll
  • The tyranny of dead air....

    I empathize with your speaking plight. When I refused to do radio my excuse was "The airwaves are not Eaton's Corrasable? bond." Today I'd say, "Air lacks a backspace key." You hit the nail dead-on.

    Have fun with podcasting though. Don't think of an editing process. Think of any voicecast in terms of takes. There's absolutely nothing that says, since you're offlining the gig, that you cannot do several and take the one you like best. If you're not going out live, there's plenty of opportunity to restate yourself.

    And of course: practice, practice, practice. Voices don't just naturally operate in smooth-mode. The skill has to be obtained through countless hours of listening to yourself. Try, instead of writing from your head, dictating your written work to yourself. Get used to the sound of your own voice.

    Oh, and one other hint I learned from an older jock, "A five dollar word works in writing, because your audience can scramble for the dictionary." The conclusion being I suppose that to sound erudite, you needn't try so hard unless you're publically reading poetry.

    That might be fun... John Carrol reads Dante. I'd tune in for that. (Yes, it's a joke. Rim-shot please.)
    John Le'Brecage
  • Paltalk?

    Does Bill know you're not eating your own dogfood?
  • Good start, John

    A few umms and errs and pregnant pauses, but you've paced yourself well. I think your arguments and examples are sound, and I enjoyed listening, although I have a slightly different viewpoint to you, being in the UK.

    By the way, I read your blog, listened to your podcast, and am typing this (slowly) on my new iPAQ hx4700 via my wireles network at home - so I'm as much a stumbling newbie as you... :-)