Beware the hype of podcasts, blogs and Web 2.0
Alan Zisman (c) 2006 First published in Business
September 26-October 2, 2006; issue 883
High Tech Office
I recently met with a company involved in the digital camera sector.
After showing off this season’s product line, the company rep
asked me if I thought her company’s website should have podcasts
I was taken a bit aback. As far as I knew, podcasts were audio or video
files hosted online and typically made available on Apple
’s iTunes music store
(generally for free) so that users could listen to them later on their
computers or MP3 players.
some of its shows, and a growing number of universities are offering
lectures available for student use that way.
I couldn’t imagine many people being interested in doing that for
advertising blurbs for digital cameras.
The company’s rep had a different meaning in mind. She meant an
online audio or video file, which she thought might be useful for her
company’s tech support website.
Posting multimedia content online can be useful, for tech support,
advertising and other reasons. But it’s nothing new. Call it
“podcasting,” however, and it suddenly sounds like a hot
new thing, perhaps worthy of an expanded budget.
I find myself with the same reaction to blogging. Definitions of blogs
and blogging vary, but most agree that a blog (short for weblog) is a
frequently-updated online journal or newsletter, often reflecting the
authors’ personal opinions.
OK, that’s nice. But is anything really new here?
There have been websites around for years that offered free online
space along with easy-to-use tools to create and update these web
pages. (Think geocities.com
But the term blog has gotten a lot of attention recently as if it’s
Some news websites have consequently relabelled their online columns as
blogs, hoping to appear more cutting edge when it’s really just
the same old thing.
is widely considered the creator of the World Wide Web, having set up
the first website in 1991 and proposed the HTML protocol that defines
how web pages work.
Recently, he’s taken to task hype in the media about a so-called
Web 2.0. The hype looks at blogs and a host of recent online services
such as the photo-sharing Flikr
website or the video-sharing Youtube.com
and implies that old-style websites connect computers while Web 2.0
In a podcast (ironically) for IBM
Sir Tim suggested that “Web 2.0 is a piece of jargon; nobody even knows
what it means.
“If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to
people. But that was what the web was supposed to be all along.”
In the late 1990s, hype about the first generation of websites led to
an enormous expansion of web-based services. Too often, they lacked a
clear source of revenue generation. The result was the tech industry
crash of 2000-2001.
The hype for podcasts, blogs and Web 2.0 seems to be building the same
sort of momentum. While Youtube.com is wildly popular, the bandwidth
required to serve the huge number of video clips hosted (for free) has
been estimated at US$1 million per month. It’s unclear whether
income from ads will be enough to offset costs.
Beware of next-generation buzzwords and hype. It may make sense to have
multimedia content on your business’ website or to have
often-updated opinionated content.
But evaluate any proposal on its merits, not because it’s cool to have
podcasts and blogs.