Friday, February 6, 2009

The Governor's Fake Podcast

I started to worry that podcasting was over when I got a press release today from Gov. Jim Gibbons' office announcing that he would start podcasting. The headline, in fact, read "Governor Starts Podcasts."

I had even intended to offer a little rare blogger praise for Gibbons, already ahead of the game as a renowned and enviously talented text-messager, because the governor had made it to the podosphere before that cutting edge news organization whose editorial page shills for him.

Except then I went to see what they were calling a podcast. And it turned out, they don't actually know what one is. My first clue ought to have been the last line of the press release: "The videos can be viewed by double-clicking on the “podcast” link or the message can be saved to a computer or handheld device by right-clicking and saving the video file to your computer or device." Hmm. No talk of RSS, subscribing or iTunes.

But I went to the web site and was encouraged by that purple icon that usually takes you to iTunes on just about every other website.

No can do. What happens when you click there is you get a 9-minute video that you have to save to your computer. I'm not going to get into the politics of his statements; others are better at that than me. It's certainly compelling viewing -- although very echoy -- if you care about the state's budget or even if you just want to see a highly unpopular politician get snarky in a too-cool-for-school black turtleneck. Maybe he got that style point from my recent look on NWiR, which was necessitated in my case by a particularly bloody shave?

But, Mr. Governor, what you've got here is not a podcast. It is a video file available for download. That's all. A podcast is something that people can subscribe to, receive via RSS feed and expect on a regular basis or whenever there's a new episode through iTunes, Zune or some other aggregator.

Mark my words, though: The Review-Journal and others will write tomorrow that the governor is podcasting. I'm trying so hard to educate this town, but some folks read what I say and do the opposite out of spite.

Update: The file downloaded as a Windows Media Player file that plays through my Real Player. When I tried to drag it into my iTunes, it actually didn't even work. So it looks like there's more to be done before I can even use it on my portable device. Thanks, Guv.


mike_ch said...

Does it really require you to know RSS? Because I used to run a web site back in, oh, 1995-2003 or so, and had a lot of videos and stuff but RSS wasn't invented yet.

Since I stopped, I've been told by friends who used to run websites that all my knowledge is worthless these days, since "everything is DHTML/CSS now."

And the reason you can't put the Guv's video into iTunes is because Apple has a "not developed here, not interested" policy toward things and has for decades, so QuickTime libraries will never support WMV and it will always have to be hacked in. Zunes should play it out of the box, though.

Anonymous said...

Quicktime Pro can easily convert WMV files to iTunes/iPod compatible files. I'm not sure if a video like this is worth the time though...

R-J Guy said...

Mike - the point is that there needs to be some subscribable functionality to it to be what is commonly considered a podcast. And forcing the user to convert the file to be able to use it on a portable media device further proves that don't know what they're doing. Then again, we don't know at our place, either. So whatever.