Spotted Cow Podcasting

We published our first podcast this week. I'm very excited about this new endeavour and will be interested in the response we receive from our listeners.

We've always associated the verb publish with paper (books, magazines and journals) but new technology has allowed us to produce – I say publish – websites and podcasts. My online dictionary defines publish as 'to put into print.' Thus I can justify, perhaps, calling a website a publication but I'm stretching the traditional meaning of the word by using it to describe the creation of a podcast. Nevertheless, I think that podcasting is more like publishing than broadcasting: podcasts may be downloaded, played and stored; broadcasting is ephemeral (except for the programs which are saved as podcasts).

Our first podcast is a fascinating interview of Susan Minsos (author of Culture Clubs and Weird Tit for Tat) by Bob Chelmick, broadcaster and photographer. Bob hosts Alberta Morning and The Road Home on CKUA and is also a contributor to Ideas on CBC.

In this podcast Bob and Susan explore the ideas and concepts in Susan's books. You'll find the podcast on our website. You can also locate it and download it through iTunes.

One of the advantages of podcasts is that one can download them at any time and play them again and again – or delete them. Subscribing to a podcast (such as ours) ensures that any new podcasts in that series will be downloaded automatically to one's computer and later to an iPod.

Today I subscribed to a new podcast series from Harvard Business Review (HBR), listened to two podcasts, and deleted two others after I learned what was being discussed. HBR calls its programs IdeaCasts, an appropriate name. I also subscribe to podcast series from the BBC, CBC and many other sources.

The popularity of podcasts, audio books and, of course, excellent radio stations such as CBC, CKUA and NPR may reflect our need to listen to the human voice. Educators, parents and publishers have told us that books are the ultimate tool in promoting ideas and providing entertainment. We should read books. We should buy books. And if we're cultured people we should read the latest books, both fiction and non-fiction. But paper books don't talk to us.

I love books and I publish and sell them. But what we're really publishing are ideas and entertainment. We're telling stories. Our ancestors told stories around their fires and hearths. Perhaps new technology is bringing us back to oral storytelling.

As always, there's room for balance. I won't sell all of my books, but I'll enjoy my iPod and the stories and knowledge that people around the world are providing in oral form.

I've got the technology. Now I need a fireplace.

Jerome Martin
June 2006

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