Do RSS Clouds Matter For Podcasting?

Sep 28th, 2009 | By | Category: How to Podcast, Podcast Distribution, Podcasting, Podcasting Software

rss-cloudsDave Winer, the author of the RSS 2.0 specification on which podcast feeds are based, is working on a new project, to bootstrap real-time podcast feeds:

We’re trying to bootstrap a network of realtime feeds, and it’s going pretty well so far. Podcasts are implemented with RSS too, and while we have excellent examples of realtime photo feeds, we don’t yet have a realtime feed with audio.

So a week or so ago I started exploring options, and thought I’d use the Grateful Dead again, until JY suggested using a fast-updating audio feed from the Internet Archive. I took one look and realized this was it. It took a bit of a coding to check it periodically to see if it has updated, add a cloud element and notify one of my cloud servers. Now it’s done.

http://static.newsriver.org/archiveOrg/podcastRss.xml

So if you’re working on podcatching software give it a try.

Winer summarizes how how RSS Clouds work like this:

  1. The authoring tool. I edit and update a feed. It contains a <cloud> element that says how a subscriber should request to notification of updates.
  2. The cloud. It is notified of an update, and then in turn notifies all subscribers.
  3. The subscriber. A feed reader, aggregator, whatever — that subscribes to feeds that may or may not be part of a cloud.

In other words:

  • You update your podcast and your content management software notifies a cloud.
  • The cloud notifies subscribers that your podcast has been updated.
  • Subscribers then connect to your site and download your updated.

One of the key ideas of RSS Clouds is to faciliate real-time notifications. It’s easy to understand how this would be useful for news updates.

It’s not clear, though, if this will offer compelling benefits for podcast listeners, since many people sync once a day at most.

What do you think? Do RSS Clouds matter for podcasting?

Image: kevindooley

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9 Responses to “Do RSS Clouds Matter For Podcasting?”

  1. I think it's something that all content creators should be aware of, but I don't see RSS clouds as essential for podcasting. As you say, many people synch up audio once a day. Or even less frequently.

  2. Yes, I would say less frequent than that, from my own experience, I personally sync at night if I remember can go a day or two, but regardless all web developers should keep this in mind for any rss feeds on their sites.

  3. Rob Blatt says:

    This sounds like something that is a piece of a puzzle for traditional broadcasters rather than podcasters. By the nature of the format, we don't deal with breaking news. Even in this format, the listener is required to be at a machine or device in order to download and listen. On top of that, the idea of a "real-time podcast" is almost laughable. If you're downloading them, they have to be pre-recorded anyway.

    • violetta says:

      Rob – That's probably true, for now, but will change as more people are accessing podcasts using mobile devices wirelessly.

    • There are some shows that do a live real-time show, then post the download later. Although they tend to do those at a set time so an RSS cloud would likely not make a difference.

      Although the trend in podcasting seems to be towards direct downloads and away from podcatchers so I don't know if this would make much difference.

      A cloud might be of use for a superfeed which consists of many podcasts each being updated at different times. One might not be interested in all the podcasts but they would be interested in knowing when new episodes of the favorites is posted.

      It would also make it easier for a podcast to post more than once a day, which is something many podcatchers can have trouble with. It would definitely be useful for podcast directories which can be slow to update.

  4. When it comes to podcasting, iTunes is king. While I suppose iTunes could go out and grab the fresh audio file in real time, in the end I have to wonder what the point is. So my iTunes grabs the file. It won't go to my iPhone till I sync. So I won't listen to it any faster. Unless my iPhone can somehow grab the file and alert me to the update, I don't see how it matters.

    It isn't the cloud that needs improving. It's distributing to mobile devices. I'm sure a method could be devised to get the content to my iPhone, but not my iPod nano, or my iPod touch. Or the Zune someone gave me that I haven't even taken out of the box yet.

    As long as there is a physical disconnect between where podcasts are gathered (iTunes) and where they are listened/watched (iPhone/iPod/Zune) then the cloud doesn't matter. Once that obstical is overcome, and my podcasts go straight to my device, suddenly the cloud is king!

    So while I don't think it matters today, having the ability is important. For once the need to sync to get podcasts goes away, then you're into something special. I can see the value to podcasting for me to be able to send to you, wherever you are, an instant update on whatever. It might be a 30 second podblast instead of a full blown podcast! Of course, if the user is swamped with those, they'll turn it off and go back to the sync.

    Maybe cloud based podcasting isn't such a great idea after all.

  5. traexs.com says:

    I guess it can't be wrong to be fast. Might it be because of the news itself or just to meet the day time.

  6. It is interesting, thank for share

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