Next week, I'm heading out to San Francisco for the second edition of IDG's Syndicate Conference (disclosure: I'm an unpaid member of the conference's advisory board and have no financial interest in the conference or IDG). Earlier this year during Syndicate's first edition, I sat on panel about podcasting and mostly talked about its disruptive nature to existing media (including existing Internet media) and how it changed my thinking as an executive editor here at ZDNet and CNET Networks. In discussing the then-virtually-non-existent RSS-delivered video "market" (a market no self-respecting established media outlet can ignore), I talked about why format and platform choice matters in terms of maximizing potential reach as more people discover the benefits of time-shifting, how that discovery increases the pool of collective content consumption time, and the sort of opportunity that may represent.
Since then, the introduction of Apple's video iPod (which everyone knew was inevitable) has made some choices more difficult. MPEG4 as a video format may be compatible with the most playback technologies, but for the new media folks (bloggers, podcasters, etc.), there's a bit of gravity to the easy free tools that come built into Windows and Mac OS X. Apple's Quicktime 7 is capable of producing Video-iPod compatible H.264 video (also technically referred to as MPEG4, Part 10), but H.264 is not universally supported. Given the way universally supported MPEG4 files is not a strength of these tools, we are once again confronted with a lack of standards problem where some devices lean in the direction of Microsoft, and others, Apple. This creates a dilemma for both the content consumer who may want to view videos of both types and for the content producer who must pick between the two or swallow the bitter pill of forking their content production. Video encoding in one format, let alone two, is very time consuming for longer videos.
I asked the conference's organizer Doug Gold "if you could supply me with a unique three-liner describing why it might make sense for ZDNet's readers to attend the conference (not some cut n' paste thing from your Web site), what would those three lines be?" Here's how he replied:
The Syndicate program was developed to explore the the business implications this new technology will have to the traditional buyer/seller relationship. While the high tech community has been familiar with RSS, ATOM and OPML, business is, due to the nascent nature of this market, oblivious to the impact these and other related technologies will have on the ways they communicate, interact with, and leverage the community of their customers and prospects. By better understanding how to make the customer part of the conversation, the issues we discuss will shape the way we all do business in the future.
Judging by the conversations that took place at the last event, I'd also add that, this is a good event for members of the mainstream media, the established media (I think they're different), the new media (bloggers, wiki'rs, etc.) and the public relations community to attend. On Tuesday night, I'll also jumpstart a Birds of a Feather discussion on Digital Restrictions Management and what its implications are to content producers. Hope to see you there.