Don't Call It A Podcast

I'm so sad that I can't make it to Podcast Expo this weekend due to schedule conflicts, but if I were there here's something I'd want to talk about with my fellow podcasters. In my keynote last year I warned that the name "podcast" was a problem. Not only is the word "pod" closely associated with Apple's iPod in the minds of listeners, but I also felt, somehow, that the name itself is slightly demeaning. Now, a year later, I think I've pinpointed what made me so uneasy about the word "podcast." It's become clear to me that there is no such thing as podcasting!

Technically, a podcast is audio or video enclosed in an RSS feed. It's the RSS feed that magically turns audio or video into a podcast, but why do we focus on the RSS? You don't distinguish a blog from its RSS feed. There's no "blogcast." You talk about radio shows and TV shows, but no one who does a radio show says they do a "radio."

Podcasts don't exist separately from their content.

I create shows that are distributed on the Internet via download, Flash, and, oh yeah, RSS, but it's the show that's the thing. By focusing on the RSS we've confused people and limited our audience. Even the word I suggested last year, "netcast," doesn't serve. It's a show, period. It doesn't matter how it's distributed. It's all just content. Tying the content to its method of distribution is confusing our audience and holding us back.

Words are powerful. Using the right words about what you do is important. It helps you understand what you're up to and it helps the audience understand what you offer. The word podcasting worked for us in the beginning, but it doesn't work any more.

I am not a podcaster. I'm a journalist, a pundit, an entertainer. I create audio and video shows and distribute them over the Internet. Maybe that's YouTube, maybe it's my own web site, maybe it's via an RSS feed. The medium isn't the message - the message is the message. It's not a podcast, it's a show, and I plan to call my shows by the right name from now on.

Fellow podcasters, and podcast listeners, what do you think?

Have fun at PME this weekend. I'm with you in spirit!

(On a side note, I'm writing this in the Vancouver airport. It's not a good idea to blog while eating a Cinnabon®. I need a Handiwipe!)