While I was researching for the podcasting post for the main Cam23 blog I found a whole load of (largely audio only) library podcasting endeavours that had started in a blaze of optimistic glory around 2005-6 and had fizzled out within a year, presumably in part due to low take-up by library users. I also found quite a number of directory sites which didn’t list many podcasts (in any genre never mind librarianship) that weren’t dated much past late 2006-7. Maybe I was just unlucky, or maybe I wasn’t researching comprehensively enough, or in the right places, but I started to get a creeping feeling that podcasting may, after a relatively short life, already be dead.
This led me to carry out further searches along the lines of ‘podcasting R.I.P.’ and ‘podcasting dead’. Although there were swathes of ‘Is podcasting dead?’ blog posts and articles, the results were confusing to say the least. There seemed to be a consensus that podcasting had thrived between 2004-7, but there were a huge variety of explanations as to why it was now: dead; evolving into something else; a less significant subset of media provision than it was; supplanted by video; no longer making entrepreneurs money; dead as we knew it, but still very much alive(!).
Flummoxed, and now seriously wondering if podcasting should be covered by Cam23 after all, I decided to crowdsource an answer from my Twitter followers.
Now my Twitter followers, who are infinitely more glamorous than the motley collection of suits standing on the hand (above), have never let me down yet (well they did once, but on that occasion I was asking for a very specific topical joke at 9am in the morning!) and it was interesting to find that the responses were broadly similar to my web searches, that is to say, not the same as each other at all, as follows:
@angefitzpatrick: freaky timing- I’ve just downloaded half a dozen of them. BBC, Guardian and Slate do them well #podcasting
@LibraryEmma: DIY podcasting might be on its last legs I think, but BBC etc not.
@lemurph: No way! Have you heard ‘Answer Me This’? With such sagacity available, the podcast can never die… http://bit.ly/2iufzD
@LottieMSmith: I really do like podcasts – but this has just reminded me that my mp4 player died this morning 😦
@ekcragg: I surely hope not, it’s the only way I’m surviving the morning commute.
@Phill2Ls: It’s the only way I get to hear BBC Friday Night Comedy or any of the Naked Scientists. Podcasts are alive and well.
@nios_vob: www.afolksongaday.com would say a resounding no! Perhaps their uses are evolving instead #podcasts
@ActualChrisWard: absolutely not. It’s replaced radio for me.
@addedentry: I’ve never listened to a podcast, so podcasting was never alive for me … #notrepresentative
@theREALwikiman: It better not be, I’ve only just got into it and I heart it.
@cathoderaytube: And here’s me thinking I must get into that podcasting lark!
So where does that leave us? Put very simply I think, at a point at which podcasting activity in terms of downloading from broadcasters, online news sites and technology sites is very much alive and well, if not growing rapidly, but perhaps in something of a slump when it comes to us librarians – and other DIY and hobbyist content creators – utilising this platform to reach users.
Here at Judge we already produce Captivate video tutorials, but I’ve been thinking about how we can make them more interesting and interactive – perhaps with a library staff in-vision presenter topping and tailing them? I’ve also been wondering if we should be having our many lectures and training sessions filmed for students who miss them? This is done for most of the other MBA teaching sessions as a matter of course now. Our other main podcasting effort is our annual induction video that you can access on YouTube.
I say annual, but to be fair last year’s video was just the 2008-09 effort slightly re-edited. Although its OK, it was never going to set the world alight and, in comparison to some of the fun library videos out there, it’s positively staid and dull. As this is the case we’re currently planning a whole new, and importantly, comedic approach to the annual library film which we’ll show to students but may not put up on YouTube. It really depends if we can make it as funny on-screen as it is in my head! If it isn’t, rest assured you will NEVER see it. There are costumes. Lots of costumes. And the whole team have agreed to do it – mad fools! I still can’t quite believe that our AV guy is currently working on a camera script and locations. Horribly real suddenly. So if you’re walking past Judge over the next week or so, don’t be surprised if you see me walking around dressed as a banana. Yes I did say a banana.