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I'll be writing about podcatchers

Friday, September 21, 2007 by Dave Winer.

In the coming weeks and months you'll probably see me writing about issues of podcatchers here, because I'm working on one. It's the third one I've written, so this time maybe I'll get it right.  Permalink to this paragraph

A lot of things have changed since I wrote my first podcatcher back in 2001. Permalink to this paragraph

1. Back then there were no podcasts, so it was a proof of concept, a chicken without an egg (or an egg with no chicken), a step in a bootstrap. Today there are lots of podcasts. An embarassment of riches. Permalink to this paragraph

2. Back then implementing a podcatcher was simple, there was exactly one format to support, RSS 2.0 with enclosures. Today, luckily, it's still fairly simple, as far as the format goes. The only variability is the iTunes namespace, which complicates things, just a little.  Permalink to this paragraph

3. Today there are enough users to make it possible to support lists of podcasts published by fans, and instead of just subscribing to the podcast feeds, you can subscribe to lists of feeds. I will publish one of these lists, in OPML 2.0 format, as a proof of concept.  Permalink to this paragraph

4. The first version of this new podcatcher will run in the OPML Editor because that's where all my software runs at first. But the goal is to port it to run in other environments, some with millions of users. I want to provide a popular alternative to the one that Apple publishes which currently dominates the market. (Note: I'm generally pleased with the way Apple dominates, they've been very fair about allowing users to export their subscription lists. But if we want to create the opportunity for others to innovate in the area of podcast players, there has to be choice at the podcatcher level. That's my main motive for revisiting this area.) Permalink to this paragraph

There probably are some other changes, and I'll write about them as the project moves forward. Permalink to this paragraph

Now.... Permalink to this paragraph

To people who say that Apple has the market sewn up, I say Bah! Permalink to this paragraph

I think iPods are great, but they're designed to play music, not podcasts. Permalink to this paragraph

Every bit of music is something you want to keep forever, a podcast loses almost all its value after you've listened to it once. Permalink to this paragraph

You have to pay for music (in theory at least) but podcasts are free.  Permalink to this paragraph

Podcasts beg to have a player that can download them without synching with a desktop computer. Okay that's something podcasts have in common with music.  Permalink to this paragraph

I buy Apple products all the time. I've gone from resenting Apple so much that I wouldn't buy their products, as recently as 2005, to today when not only do I only use Macs, but I'm constantly telling people why they'd be better off using Macs. I can't help but evangelize the products, I think they're that much better than Windows PCs.  Permalink to this paragraph

But as much as I love Apple (can't believe I actually said that) I still don't trust them with a whole medium. We need them to have competition. The rest of the tech industry seems to think they're immune to it, that creates a huge opportunity with someone with enough chutzpah to think they can do it. Permalink to this paragraph

Yours truly, Permalink to this paragraph

Dave Winer Permalink to this paragraph

PS: Here's my first bit, on the subscription problem, and how it could go away. Permalink to this paragraph

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