Podcasting 2.0 is just a vision, and the standards to realize it.
A vision for the future of podcasting.
I realize that Podcasting 2.0 is confusing from the outside. The recent Podnews report card feedback made that very clear. The confusion is the result of the project evolving organically, rather than having a big, coordinated PR launch. That’s not something we can, or want, to do. Rather, we’d rather just explain it clearly. It’s not that hard.
Our mission statement is to “preserve, protect and extend the open podcasting ecosystem.” And, it’s the “extend” part where all the exciting stuff happens. Extending podcasting means not only achieving feature parity with the big, closed tech-media platforms, but exceeding their feature set. And, most critically, it means doing it using only RSS and complementary open source technologies (the “preserve” part).
To sum it up, the Podcasting 2.0 project is simply this:
A vision of what podcasting experiences can be in the future
A set of free, open source standards for how that vision becomes reality
It’s really that simple. Just like podcasting only requires a microphone and something to say, Podcasting 2.0 is simply a vision, and a set of standards.
So, what is the vision? Let’s take a look:
Joy just got off work at her IT job and is about to leave for the day. She taps her podcast app and opens up the latest episode of a popular hourly news podcast to listen as she drives. The Podping push notification network has kept all the podcast platforms up to date every moment that new content for this show is published, so she’s certain to be hearing the latest content even though it was only published a few minutes ago.
While she’s listening, one of the guests being interviewed shows up in her app with an avatar and a bio link. She taps the person’s picture and her browser opens to this guest’s Wikipedia entry. She decides she will save that for reading later.
As the host is talking about a particular section of Ukraine, a location marker now appears in the app and she taps it to link out to her maps app to see where it’s situated. She notices it’s very close to where a friend of hers lives, in a war torn part of the country. She sends a link to the episode to her friend, and since her friend uses a podcast app that has chosen to include a full copy of the Podcast Index database, there is no API that can be blocked on the network. She can listen to the episode without issue.
Just as Joy arrives at the gym, she gets a notification from her podcast app that her favorite show has just gone live. She taps the notification and the app opens to the live stream of that podcast. She swipes right and now she’s in the live chat room for that episode, listening along and reading the live comments as she walks into the building.
This podcast happens to be a video podcast. She was only listening to the audio so far (her app knew to only stream the mp3 version of the content) but, now on the treadmill, she unlocks her phone screen and the app switches to the video mp4 version of the podcast on the fly. With her screen in landscape she can see the hosts on the left and the chat window on the right.
On her way home she stops to get a bite to eat. While waiting at the table for her food, one of the hosts says something that cracks her up and she taps the “boost” button to send some money to the podcast host. That boost shows up in the chatroom with some emoji, and other chatters boost her back. She then hits the chapter marker button to share back to the podcaster’s cloud chapter tool that she thinks this would make a great chapter timecode. She gives the proposed chapter a title. Later, the podcast host can choose to integrate that chapter into the published chapters file and all of the other listeners will see Joy’s chapter.
As Joy is finishing up dinner, the live podcast ends and she scrolls through her playlist for another show to listen to on the way home. She chooses a new long form engineering disaster podcast she’s been into lately. As the host is talking about the Challenger space shuttle explosion, she looks down at the screen to see a detailed diagram of the o-rings being displayed in the chapter art and a link to a great blog post on that topic. She’s so grateful that the host took the time to prep that material and include it in the chapters, so she hits the boost button and includes a thank you note.
Somewhere along her drive, she passes through an area of bad internet data reception. Her podcast app fortunately has seen that this podcast she’s listening to includes a lower bitrate Opus version in it’s feed item, so the app drops back to that version seamlessly and then resumes the higher quality version as she passes out of the bad reception area.
As she is getting ready for bed, she looks for a sleep podcast and scrolls through the podcast app’s directory listing and sees comments attached to some of the latest episodes in the mental health/sleep category. The comments are from other listeners using different podcast apps, but she can see them just fine since they all use a common federated comments protocol. She selects one with good feedback and falls asleep to it.
Every bit of the above scenario is perfectly possible using only RSS and open source standards. Much of it is already functioning today in apps and services that are early adopters.
Don’t believe it when people say that RSS can’t deliver the next generation of podcasting features. It absolutely can. All you need is standards. And, that’s what we are creating.
By the way, who is the “we” I keep mentioning? It’s everybody on this list. They have all contributed to the project. And, it can be you too. Just speak up and help out in any way you can. Everybody’s voice is heard and is valuable.
Give me a group of talented people with a vision over some impressive people with money any day, and watch the amazing things that happen.