Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Legacy of Adam 'The Podfather' Curry

In my previous post, I had blogged about Adam Curry, who for his contribution to the world of podcasting is known as the Podfather.

But so vast is the legacy that he has bequeathed to the world that it merited - nay, required a separate post. 

Here, in no particular order, is the legacy of Adam Curry:

1.) He made revolution possible in the field of education. 

There is only so much attention one can devote to books, and podcasts draw in the audience and allow for greater interactivity between teachers and students.

Dr. Thomas Hulsmann of the Carl von Ossietszky University, Oldenburg, Germany says that with the dominance of text-based material, the diversification into multimedia is a must.

Dr. Hulsmann is a professor in charge of Distance Learning at his university, and emphasises the use of podcasts to help those who partake in distance education. Being one myself, I agree with what he says. 

This avenue of teaching has since given rise to education-specific podcasts directed solely towards teaching and learning. One such example is the Teachers' Podcast Education Series, which had reached more than 4.3 million listeners in November 2008.

Conceptualised in 2005, the Teachers' Podcast is the brainchild of Mark Gura and Kathleen King, both education professionals themselves. 

That the idea began to germinate in 2005 - the same year in which Curry began podcasting - shows just how fast the idea has caught on.

2.) What podcasts can do is incorporate the personal experiences...

...of those who have been there and done that in the past when it comes to a particular subject of discussion. That adds more believability since you are listening to the person's voice, and not the transcript of what said person has done in his/her field, which makes for more mental engagement with the audience.

With the technological advances the world has seen, Curry's foray into podcasting has seen the evolution of screencasting and vodcasting also supplement one's education.

As Dr. Stephen Gomez of the University of the West of England says: "Few other technological developments have the same potential for teaching and learning as podcasts." 

3.) In today's fast-paced world, the need to do things on the go has seen a dramatic increase. 

Thanks to podcasting, you don't need to wring your hands with worry if you miss a group discussion with your peers or that all-important board meeting.

Blurb Courtesy: Podcasting for Teachers: Using a New Technology to Revolutionize Teaching and Learning

What makes it even better is that it has a very small file size, making it quite portable, and comes in an mp3 format which nearly every audio player can reproduce.

Better still, it's absolutely (well, almost) free.

Just make sure you've downloaded it first!

4.) It gave the little guys of the world a voice. 

Even today, podcasting is the tool of the individual, not big corporations and multinational organisations. While most podcasts have niche pockets of listeners, they on the whole comprise a huge part of what is called the tail of the world wide web.

The tail is comprised primarily of those who spend much time on the net browsing it through search engines, thereby staying on the 'tail' of the latest developments in their field of interest.

Curry's invention of IPodder and his ability to create a programme that harnessed the RSS-based subscription mechanism has only increased the tail's capability of keeping abreast with the latest. 

What makes it even more viable to them is that it is cheap to create and produce a podcast. As I mentioned in my previous post, Curry's podcasts were produced in the front seat of his car. He did invest in some technology, but most of it was pretty basic, such as microphones and fire wires.

That particular episode made in March 2005 was downloaded more than 50,000 times inside the first 36 hours of its release.

What Curry did was basically challenge the big broadcasters. For those who were bothered, the podcast and its subsequent offshoots were methods that were cheap and effective to provide them an avenue in which they could voice their opinions on any topic they wanted to discuss.

Take Curry's own Daily Source Code as an example. The Seinfeld of the podcasting world, his podcast was in essence a 'show about nothing.'

He spoke about everything, ranging from what he thought about a particular topic to development in the field of podcasting to so-called conspiracy issues such as Free Energy Suppression and the 9/11 Truth Movement.

Blurb Courtesy: Wired Magazine

What Curry did was challenge the mainstream broadcast industry. He spoke about topics that broadcast professionals would not normally discuss on the air, but topics that people wanted to listen to. It was also liberally flavoured with swear words, a strict no-no in the field of professional journalism.

These were all attributes that drew people to his podcasts. What he essentially did was - from a broadcasting perspective - think outside the box, and that is something everybody can associate with.

And that in essence makes it so much more than radio.

5.) It gave traditional broadcasters a chance to diversify

As I mentioned in a previous post of mine to do with my own experiments with podcasting, this is an avenue for traditional news sources to expand horizontally (same content, more variety) as compared to vertically (same variety, more content).

When the Barclays Premier League was instituted in 1992, how many of us that the Premier League would institute a podcast that would attract viewers of the league from all over the world? 

The above podcast invites people from all over the world to phone in and voice their opinions on the goings-on in English football. Coaches and players from the league are also invited on the air via telephone interviews - which only adds to the realism - to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the league.

Similarly, the Guardian also has football podcasts that look not just at English football, but European football as well.

Hosted by James Richardson, the Guardian's Premier League Football Podcast looks at the English domestic league and the domestic cups, while his vodcast takes a look at what other European newspapers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and any other prominent footballing nation are covering.

This is just a screenshot, not the real deal!

Given the relatively low cost of podcast production, it is also a very convenient method for new kids on the block in the field of journalism to carve a niche for themselves. Several national podcasters such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and local radio stations throughout the world now use podcasts as methods to rope in new listeners.

Both the above podcasts also let you download the podcast to your system for later listening and make subscription via iTunes, RSS Feeds and Soundcloud possible.

For example, Bob Gardfield's show On the Media on WNYC, a division of New York Public Radio has been available to download as a podcast since January 2005 - another example to show how quickly podcasting caught on.

On that note, the New York Public Radio - as the name goes - is a publicly funded organisation. In today's world, commercially funded radio stations have more access to funds - and therefore more possibilities for investment - than publicly funded radio stations, all of which are members of the National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States.

Podcasts offer these stations a cheap alternative to rope in listeners.

But it's not just radio stations that are turning to it. Podcasts and their hybrids are now being turned to by multinational companies as well. 

Beer conglomerate Heineken are considering experimenting with podcasting, and in an attempt to bond with customers, employees are putting up behind-the-scenes videos (vodcasts) of their interactions and ideation meetings at work.

And all of this was possible because an ex-MTV VJ who had once 'mesmirised teenyboppers across the globe' decided to make a tiny application to challenge commercial radio broadcasters.

Until Next Time,



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