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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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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.

Chaz Larson's picture

Amen, Merlin. Podcasts seem...

Amen, Merlin. Podcasts seem like such a great idea, but there's so much chaff.

One that I used to listen to was about a half-hour long; if it were only the useful stuff, it could be ten minutes long. Instead, every podcast contained about ten minutes of interesting information, and twenty minutes of meta-discussion about how he was sorry he didn't update more often and what sort of mic he was using and how difficult is was to come up with things to say sometimes and so forth.

It finally chased me away. Put up ten interesting minutes every two weeks or whatever. Don't post podcasts that mostly apologize that your podcasts are late.

You know, I don't get together with my sisters as often as I'd like, but when we do see each other we don't spend 2/3 of the time talking about how we should get together more often.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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