Radio & Music

The podcasting and download trial commences…

A few weeks ago I talked about the upcoming BBC Download and Podcast trial and everyone got terribly excited even though it hadn’t started yet. But now it has! Actually it started last Monday, but I’ve been pretty distracted with all the other guff going on to really go into any detail about it.

First off, you can read all about it at the Download and Podcast trial page on BBC Radio’s site. One of the BBC’s major missions is to get people up to speed with these new technologies as they emerge, so a large number of people have put in a substantial amount of work to try and really explain downloading and podcasting in ways that will even make sense to people who don’t spend all day on the internet. I think they’ve done pretty well, but I’m sure people out there might have comments. There’s a feedback box at the bottom of the page if you want to make any suggestions or have any problems.

The Programmes that you can currently subscribe to include: TX Documentaries from 1Xtra, From Our Own Correspondent, In Business, In Our Time, The Today Programme’s 8.10am interview, Mark Kermode’s Film Reviews and Litir do Luchd-Ionnsachaidh with more to come.

I genuinely can’t recommend In Our Time enough, by the way. I’ve written about it before, but it bears repeating – where else each week can you hear some of the greatest experts on any given subject talking about The Roman Republic or the development of the Alphabet or Cryptography or Modernist Utopias. This is ultimate geek (radio) programming – exposing listeners to people working from an enormous range of perspectives. Absolutely stunning, and I can heartily recommend it for anyone who is stuck with some kind of tedious commute every day. Life-saving. (And if you’re particularly interested there’s a slightly cheesy Greatest Philosopher Smackdown going on as well.)

The other thing I’d like to talk about while I have your attention is some of the design work around the delivery of podcasts. At the moment, the whole experience of podcasting is unfortunately fairly clunky and forbidding for people who aren’t terribly technical. Having spent some considerable time playing with a beta of Odeo, I think I can say that this is going to change dramatically in the near future. But in the meantime, the work that the Radio and Music team have done with the presentation of the podcast URLs is really sweet.

This move towards ‘three ways of listening’ really excited me and I love the fact that the XML button is clickable and you have a form input box where you can select and copy the URL without accidentally clicking on the XML link and getting a page full of mark-up. I’m not totally convinced that this is a use of input boxes that everyone will get, but it’s certainly the most elegant solution I’ve seen so far.

6 replies on “The podcasting and download trial commences…”

I wanted to thank you earlier for getting me hooked on “In Our Time”. My commutes to college are infinitely more enjoyable now and how often can one say “I’m smarter than I was this morning?” Thank you and thanks to the BBC.

Hmm…my first reaction to the podcast URL box was that I know several people who regularly listen to MP3s but have no idea how to copy and paste on their computers. I’m not sure whether such people would be using the podcast or not.

I think we’re in a bit of an intermediary space at the moment and that we can expect something resembling a post-broadcast, web-based EPG to emerge to handle all these things in elegant one-click ways. I think Odeo is the first step in that direction, but realistically there aren’t that many elegant ways of doing podcasting at the moment and I think this is a good effort.

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