Dave Winer, a podcasting papa, adds this to the discussion about Audible’s attempts to make a business out of measuring traffic and serving ads on what it calls podcasts (that is, what it serves in its proprietary format):
By design, podcasting took a poison pill at the very beginning of its life that made it impossible for the corporate types to subvert it without fundamentally changing what it is. That’s why I was sure that Audible wasn’t doing podcasting.
Basically MP3 can’t be rigged up to serve the purpose of advertisers, and that’s why I love MP3. And only MP3 provides the portability and compatibility that users depend on. Any other method will force them to jump through hoops that they will resist. If so, then podcasting isn’t for the advertisers.
And Doc Searls adds:
Meanwhile, back to Dave’s poison pill.
Podcasting is a perfect example of what happens when the market supplies itself. We chose MP3 because it worked on devices like the iPod, even though it was closed in other ways. And because it couldn’t be closed in ways that matter.
It’s amazing to me that we’re still only beginning to understand that free and open markets doesn’t mean “your choice of silo”. But we’ll only understand it by making markets ourselves.
And at that we’re still at about the year 1480.
Key point: the silo-builders can’t lead us out of the dark ages. They can help, but they can’t lead. That’s our job.
I disagree with Dave at my peril because he’s usually right. But he and I do disagree by a few degrees about advertising and blogs and podcasts.
I do agree with him and Doc that the virtue of the MP3 as the vehicle of choice for podcasts — like RSS — is that they are open and cannot be controlled. I also now see his point that a medium without advertising is less likely to be overtaken by the big guys because they can’t exploit, monetize, and commercialize it.
But… I don’t think the big guys can control media anymore. This is the post-scarcity era and they can’t buy all the blogs in the world.
And… I do want to find ways for creators to make money and find support for what they love, for I believe that will yield more creation and more independence from those big guys. Not everyone will want this but for those who do, we need to look at open infrastructures to support it.
That’s my problem with the Audible system. It’s both closed and expensive.
That’s also my problem with restrictive DRM, which only limits the potential distribution and audience. See my favorite example of 150,000 views of Jon Stewart on CNN’s Crossfire vs. at least 5 million views of the same segment on the open web: See what happens when you let the folks formerly known as your audience become your distributors.
Let’s say that MP3s could ping their creators when they are played — at the creator’s option, with full transparency for the listeners. Then the creators could count and control their own stats without having to pay someone to do it via a proprietary system, and report those stats to sponsors. That’s the sort of thing I want to see. Same with RSS; I like Feedburner telling me how many are reading even cached feeds of mine and I’m grateful to them for telling me that — without charging me three cents a read as Audible is; without charging me anything — but I also wish I could get those stats directly so I could do my own analyzing of them.
I’d like to see structures that keep control in the hands of the creators rather than opening doors for new attempts at centralizing control in proprietary silos. Rather than deciding not to have traffic and ad capabilities I’d like to see control for them remain open and at the edges. That will enable the people at the edges to get their fair share if they want it. And that is what I believe will assure that the big guys can’t control media again.
: LATER: Winer says he’s writing his manifesto on the topic of advertising and all this and I eagerly await it.