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It's very easy to be dismissive of new podcasting products and services as they hit the market. It's just human nature and even I’m not immune. Part of my job is to try out podcast-specific tools and technologies so I can evaluate their implications and applications for the future of podcasting.
Yet I still have to tamp down my skeptical side when I see something new.
I’m grateful to everyone who sends me messages when they find something new and interesting that they want my opinion on. (More about that at the bottom of this article.) I don’t have copious amounts of time to scan the interwebs for new things, so I rely on people just like you to surface new things for me. So thanks for that!
Podcast Tech Is Just Getting Started
The recent entrants into the pod-tech space are just a harbinger of what’s to come. The world is on lockdown. The economy is in the toilet. Lots of things suck. But things sucked when the housing market collapse of 2008 led to a recession. Yet all sorts of new ideas, products, and services came out of the other end. It’s starting to look at lot like that world all over again. I’m not going out on a limb when I predict a huge wave of new pod-tech soon to be coming at us fast and furious.
I in no way wish to minimize the unfathomable pain and suffering our current crisis is forcing far too many people on the planet to endure. But I also cannot ignore the reality that some smart, creative people don't have a house full of children to entertain, are not caring for elderly parents without the help of home health services, and are not worrying about where their family’s next meal is coming from. People unencumbered by those harsh realities are tinkering with new concepts and putting together new technologies specifically the podcasting space.
That's why I say the wave we’re seeing now is just the start.
Less Scorn, More Acceptance Of New Podcasting Goodies
As podcasters reliant on technology to ply our craft, our first reaction should be one of curiosity, not scorn, when we are introduced to new tech. All of us -- me included -- need to tamp down our natural reactions as we evaluate new tech. And when we do, we must do it not only on its current merits or what the tech will do for our podcasts right now. Rather, we need to consider what future revisions of this tech might do for all of the podcasting in the future.
This is hard. We’re creatures of habit, and as such are beholden to our current processes and techniques. New tech threatens to upset the status quo or the equilibrium we’ve made between getting our next episode out on time and the utter chaos of our lives.
That’s why I don't want to dismiss or even laud any one particular new tool or service just yet. It’s just too early for me to make a call on whether some new tool from some new company is going to gather enough customers to become a going concern. That’s me trying to pick winners, and I have a mixed track record on predicting the survivability of any given company.
Podcasting Tech And The Promise of Better Podcasting
What I’m better at is identifying pockets of promise and opportunity, especially during times of disruption. I’m decent at triage-level sorting of the features and benefits offered by emerging tech. I’m less interested in judging if one offering really does make things better and more interested in judging if the problem area the service is aimed at is ripe for disruption or in need of innovation.
A lot of this new podcasting tech is exciting. New tech can make things better in podcasting. Some tech will make us more efficient podcasters. Some new podcast tech will make obsolete some of the old ways we used to rely on. And that’s a good lens for you to use when you look at these new services. Does this new service have a place in your existing chain? Does it replace something in your chain? Does it completely eliminate the need for something else in your chain? Those are good questions to start with.
But as you do this, try to look beyond the current version of the service and the technology. This version may not be for you and your show right now, but does it hold promise? If you dismiss something new, you might miss out on the second iteration that better fits your needs. So if some new podcast tech looks interesting -- even if it’s not a perfect fit -- it's probably worth your time to sign up for their newsletter and maybe even keep the software updated.
Yes, I know that most of these new products and services aren't going to last. Most of them are going to fizzle out and die. Many of these new services are half-baked at best, because they’re just MVPs -- minimum viable products -- thrown together to see if there's a market fit.
That’s Startup 101 stuff. And so is the reality that most will fail.
But your job as a podcaster isn't to pick winners out of these technologies in their current versions. It’s to look for promise.
Do you see promise in the idea of turning video conference calls into podcasts? It doesn’t matter that the current implementation doesn’t appeal to you (like the current implementation doesn’t appeal to me). But I see the promise in the concept of content repurposing.
No, you might not see the need for a subscription-model transcription service that charges twice what you pay for currently. But you probably do recognize that the AI required to make transcripts better is advancing at a rapid clip, so you can’t dismiss the concept just because you don’t like the revenue model.
Make Smart Bets And Invest Your Time Wisely
Again, your job is not to pick winners and losers. Your job is to find the promises offered by interesting innovations of today that might impact your podcast tomorrow. Stay connected with them. Keep tinkering. Keep playing. And keep your eyes out for new stories that come out about the companies beyond those innovations.
It takes only a little bit of effort to stay engaged with the people behind these innovations. That’s your bet. Venture capitalists make lots of bets with real money on companies that never pan out. Because all they need is one big win and it covers their losses. The same works for you, only your investing a little time to sign up for a newsletter, follow a social channel, or keep some software updated. No money required.
If You’re Tinkering With Pod-Tech, I Want To Hear About It
Some of you are actually playing around with a few of these early-release new tools and services. I would like to hear what you think about them. Love them, hate them… Tell me what you’ve picked up recently that you see promise in. Record a quick minute or two of audio, put the .wav file on Dropbox, and then send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to show some support for this show, there two ways. The best way is to tell one other podcast or about this program. Pick up the phone or end then an email asking them if they listen to Podcast Pontifications.
The second best way is to go to BuyMeACoffee.com/EvoTerra and... buy me a coffee. And please consider set up for a monthly contribution. Your support really means a lot.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.