Scripting News for 11/29/2007

Casting in late 2007 

There are two sides to RSS, casting and catching.

On the casting side, obviously there is:

1. MP3 casting (aka podcasting).

2. News item casting (blogging, news organizations, PR).

3. Photos (not much has been done here, but that will change).

4. Video (check out the major networks, they’re doing a lot here).

5. The new hard to describe (for me) casting done by users on social networks like Facebook (which I almost called Feedbook).

6. I think Twitter is a form of casting (it’s also a catcher).

7. Publishing bits of code in feeds. I use this extensively as the update mechanism for all my software. Others do too.

8. Torrent feeds (slapping forehead). With this innovation it’s possible to write a TiVO that runs on a desktop or Mac Mini. Check out EZTV’s feed, very sensible, futuristic (one hopes).

9. What else?

Some comments…

For MP3s you’re basically on your own. There aren’t many tools for creating RSS 2.0 files with MP3 enclosures. This art has been around since 2001, it’s been popular since 2004, so it’s fair to assume perhaps that there isn’t much demand. It’s pretty easy to cobble together a podcast feed by hand. I write scripts to do it, myself, I never do them by hand.

Blogging software is probably the most common tool for news item casting.

For photos, you have Flickr, and Apple’s iPhoto does something they call “photocasting” but I haven’t investigated this yet (I will, for sure). I have some stuff coming here myself not too far down the road.

Question: What photo collecting sites offer RSS feeds of users’ photos? Are they compatible with Yahoo’s feed format (they use a namespace called Media RSS) or do they use enclosures, or something else?

Answers: Zoomr, ShoZu (but no metadata about the photos, so what’s the point).

For video, it’s basically like MP3, if there are any tools on the casting side, I’m not aware.

If you’d like to add anything to this list, which is far from complete (I’m sure) please use the comments.

I’ll write about the catching side of this later.

Specifically about podcasting 

I’ve heard that podcasting didn’t achieve its promise, and I guess it’s time for me to say what I think about that.

First, obviously it depends on what you felt was the promise.

Second, it depends whether you think there’s more to do.

I think there is, and when that’s done, podcasting will become more than it is.

As much as I love the iPod, it is not a great podcast player. However, unfortunately, it is the best podcast player you can buy, today.

What if the energy that went into Chumby, for example, went into designing a podcast player? The player might actually look more like Chumby than it does an iPod. The interesting thing about the Chumby is that it is connected but not tethered to the network. The ideal podcast player would be even more loosely connected.

1. It would directly read its feeds over wifi, it would not have to synch through a desktop or laptop computer. The iPhone has enough connectivity to do this. The iPod Touch does. A Nokia N800 does as well. Most cell phones do.

2. You could use it to create a podcast. We’re basically there with Twittergram and BlogTalkRadio. Just call a number, and we not only shoot your minicast at Twitter but we also maintain an RSS 2.0 with enclosures feed. In other words, in every way, it’s a podcast.

3. It must be open, so users can have a range of choices of catcher software. I don’t think a one-vendor approach has a chance of working.

When we get this device, podcasting will work better.

In terms of expectations, a lot of people hoped they could make podcasts and quit their day jobs. I wasn’t one of those people, and I never encouraged people to believe that. I see podcasting, for bloggers, as just another way to communicate with a few people who are interested in what they know and think. I also see it as a way for professional news organizations, esp non-profits, to flow reports to people in a very convenient and powerful way. As a consumer of podcasts, I am in heaven. I am a regular listener of: Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, Fresh Air, Nightline, NYT Tech Talk, and numerous NPR shows. I have far more content than I have time to listen. Thanks to podcasting I am a much better informed person, and it gives my mind something to do as I get my exercise.

I don’t do my own podcast very often these days, but then I don’t do much public speaking or go to many parties or do press interviews either. I’m in a quiet period. I don’t know how long it will last, or if it will ever end, I’m just going with the flow. I like to write, and hang out with friends in small groups, and I do a lot of reading and listening, and I also am working on software projects. If I were driving coast to coast or going to political conventions or teaching at a university, I imagine I would also be doing more podcasts.

The Times *finally* gets the Leopard story 

When Leopard came out Pogue gushed that it had so many features he couldn’t hope to write about them all. The real news — not approved by Apple of course — to get Leopard to run, many users would have to do things that would make a Windows system administrator blush. This, from the computer that “works the way you do,” according to their ads.

On the NY Times blog, today, Saul Hansell finally has the story.

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