It is amazing and ironic, that while many media has changed over the years, radio has actually “coming back” but in a different form, aided by new technology. Indeed there was a time when people were afraid that “video would kill the radio star” as silent film actors became relics and film noir became an art genre rather than a mass media.
Now that technology enables it, podcasts will soon be common forms of voice-based user created content, its characteristics distinct from text-, still image-, or moving image-UCC. In fact, they may become even more popular than the other forms of UCC because in many times, the presence of the actual creator lies within the product itself through his or her voice.
Also unlike text, video, or image-based UCC, I believe that there is more profit in store for people creating podcasts. Content creators can only make money when there is high demand for their contents, but with text or video, it is difficult to get individuals to pay. With podcasts, however, people may want to listen to favorite podcasts while they commute or while they exercise, like audio books. This is different from making a program for national or local radio, because podcasts usually cater for a specific target audience. I think that something of a portal site that offers streaming service through the Web, but requires pay-per-download for each podcast would be hugely successful.
But then, what if people start using unlicensed music as background music, or what if someone starts a series of reading bedtime stories without consulting the writer? Would the portal site be responsible for creating the platform? Would it have to be a non-profit organization?
Unfortunately, these questions only take me in circles, bringing me back to questions I had in the beginning regarding citizen journalism and Web created content in general. Sometimes it is frustrating that technology and social/cultural trends move ahead of specific laws and that cyberspace itself is something that one government or one set of laws can control. However, these new technologies have enabled us to think beyond conventional perimeters.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day, it won’t be the actual technology or price of the content that moves that moves these evolutions in the media. For instance, podcasting-a new form of voice media-is “back” not just because the creating tools are easier but because frankly, people love listening to other people talk.