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Not dead yet – podcasts April 15, 2008

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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Podcast   Our online friend, Tim Holt, had his interest piqued by an online article suggesting the demise of podcasts. http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/04/11/why-podcasting-failing

In the final paragraph, the author writes, “ Compared to radio programming, most podcasts sound amateurish and slow-paced, and the ability to find interesting programs is severely limited by the directories, rating systems, and search functions found on iTunes and other podcatchers and podcast-oriented sites. No wonder relatively few people have tried downloading podcasts, and fewer still listen to them on a regular basis.”

This is true to some extent. Without training in how to adjust sound levels, improving the pace of discussion, and helping the listener with verbal cues there is no doubt that these amateur podcasts are make for some hard listening.

I once listened to a language training podcast to buff up my French. Every time the speaker spoke a word that began with a “p” my eardrum popped. I gave up after podcast 3. I picked it up again at podcast 10 and the quality of the sound and even the delivery had improved vastly. It takes time to learn those lessons.

Read Anderson and Armbruster’s groundbreaking work on “considerate text” (1984) and you have the groundwork for a paper I am writing called “The Considerate Podcast” that explores issues related to quality, construction, and organization of decent podcasts.

One last point, I grew up watching American Bandstand. I saw it evolve over the years into Soul Train then MTV and it reached its apex (arguably) with some brilliant (and expensive) music videos. Heck, the latest Stones film is the latest example of what money and professionalism can get you in the world of commercial productions.

Nevertheless, at the same time, amateurs are creating some of the most humorous, provocative, interesting, touching, inspiring, and beautiful videos with a minimum of equipment and posting them on YouTube.

So I would recommend not comparing Steve Hargadon’s podcasts with Steven Colbert’s television show. They are different creatures and deserve different treatment and different respect.

Where we will be April 9, 2008

Posted by Michael McVey in General Comment.
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I wonder if this is how my work will someday be viewed. Here is an image of a demonstration in 1931at the Western Secretarial School in which the instructor is demonstrating how a rotary dial telephone works.

My colleagues and I demonstrate to teachers the inner workings of web pages, blogs, podcasts, and other communication tools and their use in the class. Someday, archivists will dig up our talks and demonstrations and wonder how anyone could have not understood how these tools would be put to use in a classroom setting. I am sure our ignorance will be snickered at a little.

One could only hope.