Social Podcasting?

Podcasting is cool. Social networking is cool. Why not combine the two?

It seems everything on the web today is all about “the social” (to crib Microsoft’s Zune catchphrase), but podcasting is often an solitary affair. Sure, podcasters meet up and hold conferences (or “un-conferences”) and trade notes on what goes on behind the camera or microphone… but when it comes to creating media, for the most part it’s a one-person (or one-voice) show. Oft compared to radio or TV, podcasting is similarly one-to-many.

Well, enter Podjournals, “a social podcasting community” which you can use “to blog, to podcast, to video podcast, as a social network and as a public or private journal.” Ergo, many-to-many, one-to-one, total control of authors and audience.

There are a few other “social networking” and “podcasting” mashups out there already. I’m partial to, which similarly provides for “friending” and customized playlists, and has a strong revenue generation component for those not willing to podcast purely out of love. With web-based, platform-agnostic options out there, I’m not sure what would make Podjournals a compelling choice for “social podcasting” except among the most hardcore Mac users.

See, unlike most new players in the increasingly crowded “new media” and “social web” spaces, PodJournals is client based, requiring the installation of a local application (which in turn requires OSX 10.4 or later). Further, it relies on paid .Mac accounts to host the media it serves. (Hopefully they’ll add tools to play nicely with free media hosts in the near future.) These are limitations that’ll probably keep PodJournals from turning this natural combination of concepts into the Next Big Thing. But with a model that thinks in terms of friends and family, the Next Small Thing may suffice.

While a Mac and .Mac account are needed to create Podjournals content, anyone can consume it. A user can have several journals, say one for immediate family and one for a book club. (Here’s my user profile, and my default journal.) And individual journals can have several contributors… basically a community blog with integrated audio and video. Some rudimentary controls are available in the form of page themes and a sidebar editor (hello, HTML code!).

I’ve only just started poking around, but it’s clear PodJournals will need actual people in the system with whom to socialize for the “social podcasting” plan to work. As far as I can tell, there are maybe half a dozen users and about as many videos in the system right now. The concept of “friendcasts” — aggregated feeds of posts from contacts — is great, but if I don’t want to count mostly strangers as friends, I’m going to have to somehow convince my Mac-using, podcast-savvy, social-minded friends to sign up.

That’s not as big a group as you might think.

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