Will podcast for cash/food...

Having already stolen a march on its rivals in the British media (BBC online aside) with its subscription-based content and an increasing number of popular blogs (the new 'column'?) The Guardian Unlimited site has hit the number one spot in the podcastosphere. Bringing in heavyweights like Ricky Gervais can't have been cheap but it is certainly a shrewd move alongside providing content from the broadsheet newspaper and a clever, subscription-based no advertising version of the site.

Much like a lot of blog content which tends to be self-referential or at least on the subject of blogging, the Guardian and other podcasters are providing much of the commentary/PR about blogs and podcasts in an attempt to drive them further into the mainstream consciousness.

The Guardian's Tim Dowling makes a couple of interesting points in his slightly cynical look at podcasting. His critique of the majority of podcast content as "still audio blogging. No matter what the putative subject … the average offering is usually a personal log of skin complaints, half-baked opinions, blood-sugar level updates, TV programmes watched and dreams remembered, produced with a level of technical incompetence one couldn't hope to achieve with ordinary weblog software" is probably quite valid. But if, as podcast providers and distributors like the Guardian are hoping, the mainstream comes on board we may start to see, as we have with 'traditional' websites, the podcast becoming an integral part of daily life, providing useful information.

Presumably inspired by the not inconsiderable cost of producing the 'world's number one podcast', Tim goes on to speculate on the issue of the podcast as a saleable product: "For the moment the amateurs may run the show, but it's clear that the advertisers, commercial broadcasters and pornographers are already edging in from the wings." He even goes so far as to coin his own term for a podcast you have to pay for: a podcost. [I wonder how long it will take for Microsoft to add in podcast and blog to Word's dictionary?]

As soon as the first major podcost arrives we will see a definite shift from "still audio blogging" to podcasts as a product. In the same way as blogs have multiple personalities (from personal musings to professionally driven publicity and PR tools) it will be interesting to watch the development of the podcast as it is shaped by those who are using it.


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