John Carroll sings show tunes

OK, I lied, though I'd be curious to see how many downloads I'd get if I really did sing show tunes (Ooooooo-klahoma...).

OK, I lied, though I'd be curious to see how many downloads I'd get if I really did sing show tunes (Ooooooo-klahoma...). I'm actually posting another podcast, a continuation of an ongoing experiment, and hopefully one that tackles (better) the pernicious "ummm" monster. This one talks about the digital media revolution, and why I think DRM is so darn important. I've made it easier on everyone this time, as it's only 19 minutes long.

This might sound like a left turn, but a funny thing happened on the way to lunch today.

The cafeteria at the MTV Networks building in Santa Monica has a rack with magazines and newspapers, and as I was passing I thought I saw a Keebler Elf on the front page of the New York Times "Business Day" section. Doing a double take, I realized that it was, in fact, a slightly older Al Gore. The surprising part, though, wasn't so much the picture as the content of the article. Al Gore has transformed himself from political animal roaming the halls of Congress into Hollywood media mogul (who are, in truth, the same beast, just different clothes).

Kidding aside, what he's doing is actually quite fascinating. Al Core is chairman and co-founder of Current, a cable and satellite channel that targets the 18-to-34 age demographic that advertisers most desire. Big deal, MTV shoots for the same demographic. MTV, however, doesn't buy all its content from viewers.

Essentially, Current is building a broadcast network that enables small-scale video producers to find a market for their products. To make that possible, Current is ditching the standard 30-60 minute video blocks common in traditional broadcasting in favor of a more free-form model, with average segment lengths around 3-10 minutes.

Gore may be on to something. The segment length isn't a problem, as MTV has managed it for years, and it's ideally suited to catching channel surfers. Furthermore, I think there is a market for home-grown content. Blogs are extremely popular among the 18-34 age demographic, showing that they are open to alternative sources of media. 

Gore, in other words, may be creating a podcast for the broadcast world, helping to bridge the distribution divide that exists between home-grown content and the walled garden of traditional media broadcasting.  That's exciting stuff, and I sincerely hope he succeeds.

Of course, all this is made possible by the march of digital technology into consumer products, lowering the skill and cost barrier to entry and democratizing content I argue in my podcast (wonderful timing, John). So, listen to the podcast!

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.