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As my contribution to the Infinite Trackback Project, I am now commenting on a blog that links to FRL’s main page with the comment, “podcasting seems silly to me.”

A lot of things seem silly to me, including braille pads on drive-through ATMs,”fruit punch” without fruit, and most box wines. But I’d be careful to label podcasting silly, even if people like me have found eminently forgettable uses for it that will come back to haunt us someday. Podcasting is simply to radio/audio what RSS is to the news–a shifted way to deliver well-known content. But the shift is the crucial change.

What excites me about podcasting is not the format itself, but its role as a harbinger of an on-demand world. I was thinking about podcasting last night after I asked Sandy why we were still watching CBS News now that Dan Rather was gone. At this point, I watch the 6 o’clock news primarily to learn what Big Media is telling people who watch the 6 o’clock news. (Speaking of silliness, isn’t “o’clock” a delightfully anachronistic term?) Even if I only glance at the online headlines during the day, by the time 6 p.m. rolls around, I can lip sync Bob Schieffer’s talking-head “reporting”–even talk ahead of him, as well as talk ahead of the other talking heads, like that woman with the strange unblinking stare who last night “reported” how The Democrats are objecting to the president’s Social Security plan. (Or should that be “plan?”)

Consider podcasting as part of a message that includes satellite radio, RSS for text content, and music downloads. The media model of rigidly controlled spoonfuls of information doled out on other folks’ schedules will soon be a relic. The kids who will be voting for tomorrow’s library bonds will expect to control not only what, but when, where, and how information is delivered. Librarians who understand that will survive.

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