Lend Me Your Ears
I don’t know why, but for some reason podcasts make more sense to me than video blogging. Maybe it’s because I was raised on NPR, so audio broadcast of information just clicks with me. I’m also used to listening to NPR while I’m doing other things, and podcasts let me do that as well. So I’m a big fan of podcasts, even though I’ve never used them in the truest sense of the term– that is, automatically downloading them onto my iPod. Usually, I just stream them as I need them.
Naturally, being raised on NPR, my most common source of podcasts is NPR. Not only can I hear articles that I missed and share articles that I especially enjoyed, NPR also offers other streams that I really like, especially their “Song of the Day.” This has helped me discover all sorts of new music that I might not have checked out otherwise. The other musical feature that I really enjoy is the full-length streaming concerts that they have archived on their site. I wasn’t going to spend $80 and drive to Cleveland to see Radiohead this past year, but lo and behold I can listen to the entire concert on NRP for free!
In addition to this, I’m also a podcaster myself. A year or so ago, the rector of my church asked me about podcasting the sermons from the church, since I’m the resident audio guru. I only knew how to record and edit the audio, but the church’s webmanager could take care of uploading the MP3 once I had put it together. Initially this involved me taking my laptop to church every week and plugging it into the PA, but eventually we obtained a digital recorder, making my life much easier. The whole editing process takes me less than hour every week, and that even includes introductions and the occasional musical offering edited into the podcast as well. My favorite so far was a special sermon delivered by Mike Harden of the Columbus Dispatch on the Diocese’s Appalachian Ministries Sunday.
Finally, no post on digital audio would be complete without mentioning the library’s forays into the medium. For some time now, CML has participated in the unfortunately acronymed Mid-Ohio Digital Library Initiative, or MOLDI. MOLDI makes use of a service called Overdrive, which is used by libraries all over the country for delivering digital content. Not only can you get audio books and music through this service, there’s also a selection of digital movies available as well.
I’ve used MOLDI once before, when my stepdaughter had to read “Frankenstein” for summer homework a few years back and was having trouble actually reading it. She was about to leave to visit her father for the summer, and we didn’t have enough time to get an audio book from the library, so MOLDI to the rescue. We downloaded and burned the audio book that night, and she was good to go.
My only problem with Overdrive is the ongoing issue of digital rights management. Once again, the legal mess over these issues only winds up hurting everybody. The books people really want aren’t available through Overdrive because the publishers want tons of money for them. And on top of that, only recently did the publishers decide to play nice and let Overdrive put up audio books in MP3 format despite that being the industry standard at this point. Essentially, they’d much prefer you pay for your audio books through iTunes. But once again, all this fighting over cash is only hurting the industry. The more difficult they make it for customers to get what they want, the more customers are going to seek other outlets, even if those outlets involve copyright violations. The only reason there isn’t a “black market” in audio books like there is in music is because there’s not enough demand for the audio books. But it’s still a symptom of the larger problem.
So a final word on all this before we end our 23 Things: the world isn’t changing, it has changed. Self-generated and free digital content is already here, and producers of content who don’t realize this and get on board are going to die out.