What I haven’t heard about MWSF 06

[Update 2005-01-12: Apparently Photocasting only works with .Mac and it’s hard to use iWeb with non-Apple hosting. So, if you were like me and thinking about buying an iLife 06 family pack don’t forget to add on an extra $180/year for a .Mac family pack, even if you already have a web host. And, like Scott points out in the comments, that only gets you 2 gigs of storage. Kind of makes you wonder why Google can give you 1 gig for free on Linux, but Apple has to charge an arm and a leg for 2 gigs on OS X Server.]

There’s been plenty of talk about the two big announcements at MWSF 2006, so I won’t bother to go into them. While I want a sexy new MacBook Pro, (though not the first few off the assembly line, thank you very much) my technolust doesn’t add much to the conversation.

But what about the other announcements? Let’s see if we can’t find a common theme.

iPhoto will now be able to publish and subscribe to image RSS feeds of photo albums, deemed “Photocasting.” Photocast feeds will work with regular RSS readers, but iPhoto will be able to handle 1-click subscriptions and will treat Photocast feeds as special folders. It’s kind of like a distributed Flickr, using RSS.

iWeb, the new iLife tool for web sites, has built-in blogging and podcasting tools. While hosted blogging tools have gotten to the point where even executives can blog, there’s still a market for client-based blogging tools. So with iWeb, people will be able to produce RSS feeds, complete with media enclosures from other iLife applications.

iMovie has been updated to make web ready video easy, specifically for podcasting video to iPods. GarageBand has added a metric assload of podcasting features. Podcasting, by the way, is something that happens over RSS.

Looking at the new things in iLife, I can’t find that common theme that I was looking for. So let’s talk about RSS instead.

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NPR’s most interesting podcast


Browsing through NPR’s Podcast Directory, one in particular stood out; not for its content but for the way it was created.

Most of the podcasts are simply NPR shows, but NPR: Most E-Mailed Stories is assembled based on the audience’s reaction to NPR news stories. People tend to share stories they like, so in theory the best stories bubble up to the top. This podcast collects the stories from NPR’s Most Emailed Stories that were aired in the past 24 hours.

A popular story list is hardly unique to NPR; Yahoo!, the New York Times, etc. all have these lists. The podcast is different.

There is no way NPR could do this without podcasting. The length of the show can vary wildly—the description on NPR’s site says “approx 30 minutes” but Friday’s show was 50 minutes long due to the popularity of a half hour interview with the author of The Republican War on Science. Podcasting has the power to free shows from the tyranny of the half hour slot.

Also interesting is where the premise of “most emailed” equalling “best” fails. The lead story from Friday’s podcast (containing Thursday’s shows) was a Day to Day story on an Ansel Adams photo. This story was likely the most emailed because of people wanting to share the breathtaking picture that accompanies it on the website. I doubt the audio would have made been considered the most important of the day had a human editor been choosing.

NPR: Most E-Mailed Stories shows how the media can use podcasting and the web to provide unique access to their content. It succeeds both as an experiment and as a practical resource for news and information.

(Oh, and if you want to know what other podcasts I listen to, I’ll try to keep my Odeo profile up to date with them)