43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Flash: "Podfading" ravages the landscape of logorrheic bloggers

Wired News: Podfading Takes Its Toll

The phenomenon has earned its own label, "podfading," coined by podcaster Scott Fletcher in February 2005 when he gave up on two podcasts of his own.

"I liken it to losing interest in a hobby and then coming up with the reasons you don't have time anymore," said Fletcher, a Peoria, Illinois, computer-program analyst who has since returned to the scene with his monthly Podcheck, a discussion of podcasting news.

I don't doubt that people give up doing podcasts everyday, but I suspect it's not simply because they're a huge pain to make (which they certainly are, compared to typical text blogging). I think the problem is the expectations podcasters may have created for themselves and for their audience -- being cleft to this 1st Generation notion of podcasting as "regularly-scheduled MP3 Radio Show."

There's nothing wrong with this, of course, and a lot of folks have done yeoman's work churning out (sometimes really long) shows on a (sometimes nauseatingly) regular basis. But it's also daunting and backward to decide first that you're "doing an hour-long podcast" and second that it will be about....uh...what? Yeah, exactly. That's a lot of air to fill each (day | week | month). If you can pull it off with elan, more power to you.

Me? I like the idea that a podcast is simply another way to post. Nothing more. Same way that Flickr and del.icio.us -- to name just a couple -- let me share something in a way that isn't a traditional blog post, recording audio lets me (try to) make a certain point in my own way and with tone (and, one hopes, personality) that are a contrast with typically dry blog writing. But maybe that's just me.

I understand it's useful to look back toward what new technologies remind us of, but you won't tease out the more novel uses of something until you let it just be what it is, allowing it to evolve without all the herding and expectations. In the fifties, the future always looked like TVs, and in the sixties it all looked like rocket ships. And so, today, podcasts look like relatively easy-to-produce (usually long-ass) radio shows, and that's cool, I suppose.

But if we are to be stuck with this radio mindset for now, I do wish more of the many talented podcasters out there would aspire toward making a series of brilliant poppy '45s -- rather than manufacturing these hour. long. news. casts. Seriously. Just do 3 fun minutes every couple weeks, and then stop for a while. I want "Love Me Do," not "The Ring Cycle."

Raise your bar for quality and way lower your bar for frequency, and I promise you the whole thing will be much more fun for everyone.

John's picture

Short podcasts are great for...

Short podcasts are great for those moments at work where I'm waiting for Lotus notes to stop crashing or driving my rather short commute home.

The difficulty with short podcasts is the time that goes into finding stuff that is interesting vs. the time it takes to listen to it seems non-proportional. I'm sure there is great stuff out there that I just don't want to spend an hour searching for only to get a few minutes of content a week.

I think a meta-feed would be really cool -- perhaps a 'productivity channel' which has podcasts from 43 Folders and other sites. I subscribed to Ryan and Jen's Lost podcast (the one the article refers to), and it was great, but HUGE. Although I listened to it every week, I didn't listen to ALL of it every week.

Frankly, I'd rather subscribe to the "Lost channel" that has some smaller segments from lots of different people, then maybe select the best shows on that 'channel' to listen to. I think a higher level of aggregation before hitting the user would be beneficial to all.

I could do a segment every week or two on TiVo for a channel :-) But anything more than that, and I think I'd get a 'thumbs down'.




An Oblique Strategy:
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