wasting bandwidth since 1999

Thoughts About The Read/Write Web

You should be warned that this entry will probably be more incoherent and wandering than the stuff usually posted here.

We’ve been discussing various pieces of the read/write web over the past couple of weeks and it’s triggered a lot of thinking about the way people understand (or misunderstand) those pieces.

One thing I’ve discovered is that, despite (or maybe because of) a huge amount of hype, many people, even tech savvy ones, don’t understand podcasts.

Beyond the obvious misconception that an iPod is required, many seem to assume that any old audio file found on the web qualifies for the term.

In trying to make the explanation as simple as possible, I boiled the traits down to a few bullet points (people seem to like bullet points).

Podcasts are audio files that:

  • are portable
  • are posted on a regular schedule (or an irregularly regular schedule according one podcaster I listened to this weekend)
  • comes with an RSS feed

Feel free to quibble with that if you like.

Actually, after showing Ask A Ninja’s explanation of What is Podcasting? three or four times over the past couple of weeks, I’ve decided they have a pretty good analogy.

The Ninja says an audio file is like an apple pie that a whale swimming around the net comes across and enjoys. A podcast is like an apple pie factory that puts out pies over and over (yee-ah, yee-ah).

That last paragraph makes a whole lot more sense after you watch it.

Another discovery was that librarians are looking for new ways to find information.

Now that’s probably not news, but the realization slapped me in the head about halfway through an introduction to blogs I did for our high school librarians.

Since I was only given an hour, I didn’t plan to do much more than mention RSS. However, it didn’t take much more than that for the questions to get us wandering off topic into RSS badges, Bloglines, aggregators and more.

I certainly didn’t mind. I think almost everyone left with something they could use. However, an hour wasn’t enough to do it all, so I hope I’ll be able to do a follow up.

It’s also interesting doing a sessions like this in different schools. This particular one has blocked all blogspot sites and iTunes, ironically enough, killing some of my best examples by teachers.

Finally, from various random conversations, I suspect a lot of people running things for our overly-large school district see blogs, wikis and podcasts as one thing. Or at least minor variations on the same concept.

Since Will’s book is on quite a few desks around here, maybe I could blame him. :-) But it’s not his fault that most of the recipients haven’t read more than the cover.

No, the problem is larger than that. We just need to do a better job of helping people distinguish between all of this stuff. Not a small challenge to say the least.

That’s enough rambling thoughts for tonight.

read-write web, blog, podcast


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State of the Union


  1. Hi Tim,

    Looks like Bills Book is about $28. If you have a copy would you please let us (meaning SBTS) take a look at it some time? Thanks.

  2. Tim,

    I think you are exactly right that many people see blogs, wikis and podcasts as almost the same thing. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Thanks for helping me see it because now I can help my staff better understand.

  3. Tom

    I used the askaNinja movie to explain things during presentations as well. There’s a lot of truth in the madness.

    I also have the same difficulty convincing people that podcasts need feeds otherwise it’s just an audio file on the web. My own pet peeve I guess.

  4. Linda

    ditto. I am in the process of getting our district on board with podcasts. Much of what they have done does not impress me at all, but, I HATE to be negative and discouraging because they are TRYING! It is the first step. then I hope that they will figure it all out and begin creating content that is timely and “subscribable” (if that is a word!)

  5. Larry


    Blogging, wikis and podcasts are new technologies for me. Actually they are new technologies for most of my high school staff. Any yes most of my staff think of blogs, wikis and podcasts as the same thing. Your bullet points on podcast helped to clarify the concept of podcast.

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