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Pew Piqued by Podcasting Pokes

Pew Internet & American Life responded to comments from the blogosphere that its report on podcasting may be erroneous. They are standing by their data.

Two brief thoughts on that. (Yes, I did read their memo, repeatedly.)

First, and I make this deliberately broad, the report shows a lot of people are using MP3 players to grab stuff from the Web. A great finding! As I have said before, information doesn’t want to be free; it wants to be captured and organized.

Second, Pew says “Our intention was to see how many people had done something that could be functionally defined as podcasting.” This means Pew is deciding that podcasting is the same as broadcasting. I have heard this before, once from someone who doesn’t listen to podcasts, doesn’t own an MP3 player, and wouldn’t know an RSS feed if it held him up at gunpoint in a dark alley. It doesn’t make me a pedant to say that the key to podcasting is the manner in which it makes MP3 broadcasts available to tools such as aggregators; it’s no different than pointing out that the key to television is turning it on and finding shows you can watch.

Maybe one third point: lighten up, Pew. You do great work. All of these terms–podcasting, MP3 players, downloading–are up for grabs as the world evolves, and you’re as entitled as anyone else to explore the boundaries. However, when you do that, prepare to push some buttons.

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