Friday, December 31, 2004

Why I respectfully disagree with Steve Gillmor

Steve Gillmor, contributing editor at ZDNet, is one of the many people who were at the San Francisco Geek dinner in San Francisco last night. Steve and the others are Alpha geeks: they are smarter than I am, know more about tech than I do and are more committed and passionate about tech than I am.

Gillmor, who is part of the Podcast group the Gillmor Gang, is a great guy, he and I spoke at length yesterday and he (like so many other folks there) was very generous with his time. Gillmor is passionate about Podcasting and I learned a lot talking with him. His view of the potential of video casting seemed to me to be that it is a small subset of what can be called mediacasting, with audiocasting, (aka podcasting) and compelling audio-only content, being the lion's share of the content that will be produced and consumed. He does not see much future for RSS download based video, especially for portable devices.

The reason I respectfully believe he is wrong is because, in my opinion, the ability to see the face of a person who is talking to you is an important part of human interaction. It provides the content consumer with a point of focus.

When I write here about compelling content I mean content that folks focus on rather than play in the background (while doing other things like working or driving.) I agree that compelling content can be delivered to people without a visual component, but I don't believe most people want to consume it that way. Some folks see podcasting as a potential rebirth of the golden age of radio. Perhaps that will be true. I could be wrong.

But, in my opinion, the reason why television replaced radio as the primary way folks consume programming is because people want to see who is talking to them. I believe a lot of information about basic concepts like honesty, empathy and group identity are very visual concepts for most humans.

Yes, radio is still strong, but most people consume radio content while they are doing something else. In my opinion, for most people, given a choice, audio-only content is background noise. The golden age of radio ended when the technology of television gave consumers a choice.

Today the place I see most people using iPods is at the gym. That is why I think if you are developing compelling content that you want people to focus on, identify with and really pay attention to, that content will need to be visual.


At 10:42 AM, Michael said...

I totally agree with you. My comments got long, so I posted the reponse on my weblog...,guid,feb350df-efcf-4f3e-8214-9ef7bd579629.aspx

Great post.


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