I have recently started to take an interest podcasting again – I produced a few podcasts during the summer to dip my toes into podcasting but I had to stop when the soundcard on my PowerBook blew.
Recently, I have recorded a couple of my talks and podcast them with generous help from FrankP and NearFm and even more recently, Robert Scoble has agreed to let me record and podcast an interview I will do with him by phone tomorrow evening.
So I have been following the world of podcasting with increasing interest and was surprised to see a war breaking out there over the weekend!
The war is about what audio format to use in podcasts – traditionally the audio format has been mp3 files but a company called Audible has proposed a
new .aa format. According to Mitch Ratcliffe (an Audible consultant), the main advantage of the .aa format seems to be that it is possible to audit how often they have been downloaded – this is, of course, important from a monetisation point of view! However, Mitch rather lost the head (and thereby the argument) when not everyone agreed with him.
As Michael Arrington put it:
Instead of embracing the bloggers that would normally talk about this, Mitch Ratcliffe (an Audible consultant) went on an unmitigated, unprovoked character assasination romp (with follow up attacks) against Dave Winer (â€?heâ€™s willing to stealâ€?), Om Malik and others. This sure is an interesting way to engage the sneezers. As Om puts it, Mitch â€œgoes after the dissenters with a verbal baseball batâ€?…. If you find yourself on the other side of a debate with Dave Winer, Om Malik, Doc Searles, Jeff Jarvis and others, maybe you should rethink your position. Because it is very likely you are wrong.
Doc Searls, Dave Winer, Michael Arrington and others have been mounting a robust defence of mp3’s.
In my own case, I don’t see myself shifting away from mp3s any time soon. As far as I can see from reading about Audible’s new format, you upload your podcasts to Audible’s servers, they convert to .aa and host the podcast there. It is a paid service.
My podcasting is pretty basic – I record the sound, convert to mp3, upload to archive.org (free hosting and bandwidth) and then link to the archive.org file from within my wordpress blog. WordPress recognises the .mp3 file as an audio file and creates the correct enclosures transparently for me so I don’t need to worry about the tech side of the podcasting. How would WordPress deal with .aa files? I have no idea. I suspect, it wouldn’t recognise them as audio and therefore podcast subscribers (listeners) wouldn’t know you had published new podcasts.
I think Audible’s strategy is wrong here – I think they would have been far better served coming up with a mechanism for measuring stats on mp3s rather than coming up with a new proprietary file format. What do you think?
Post updated after comments from Mitch and Pete informed me that .aa is not a new format – sorry ’bout that guys.