Diving into Podcasting 2.0: The concept

I haven't been a podcast person for very long. I only listened to a couple of Android related podcasts in high school, but that was it. Then the summer before I went off to college, I started listening to some podcasts with my coworkers while detasseling. As I made the transition to college, I found that podcasts were the perfect thing to listen to while studying, sleeping, and making the couple-hour-long trek from my home town to Kansas. And it was actually while making this drive and listening to the latest episode of the Linux Unplugged podcast that I found out about a set of projects that I found really intriguing. Its referred to as Podcasting 2.0. According to a Medium post by Gary Arndt, Podcasting 2.0 is an umbrella term that refers to various projects that aim to improve the podcasting experience, and help to make it decentralized again, rather than trusting things only to the big tech companies like Apple and Spotify. There are four projects so far that aim to help reach this goal: The Podcast Index, an improved podcasting namespace, PodPing, and Value-For-Value. Each one of these projects helps to add new features to podcasts, and helps to decentralize as much as possible.

The Podcast index
The first of these projects is the Podcast Index. This aims to be a free, decentralized and open source index of every podcast on the internet with an RSS feed. This will act as a way for podcast apps to search for and supply episodes of a podcast without the need to use Apple's index of podcasts. This keeps things from being controlled by one single entity. You can hook into the Podcast Index's APIs with your app, or you can even download the entire index as a sqlite3 file.

The Podcasting Namespace
Next up is the new and improved Podcasting Namespace. This is a set of extensions to the RSS 2.0 standard that will allow for the addition of some interesting new features that apps can utilize. These come in the form of new tags that can be added to RSS files to enable features that normally wouldn't have been available in RSS 2.0. There are a number of interesting features that come with this new namespace, but some of the most noteworthy ones are as follows:

-Transcripts: This will allow for the podcast creator to include a closed-captioned transcript that can be displayed in supported apps.
-Funding: This allows for the inclusion of a donation/funding link to be added for services like PayPal or Patreon.
- Chapters: This will let the creator link a file including chapters for any episodes to the RSS file.
-Soundbites: This lets the creator link to a little soundbite preview from their episodes

PodPing is a decentralized, blockchain based system that allows for global push notifications relating to podcasts. It uses the Hive blockchain to check for updates to podcasts' RSS feeds, then notifies the subscribers of that podcast to those changes. The way it is set up, it reduces the bandwidth required to check for feed updates, and drastically cuts the time it takes for the listeners to get notified.

This is probably one of the parts that intrigued me the most. This is a way for listeners to support their favorite creators with Bitcoins. Users can add a certain amount of money to a Bitcoin wallet within your podcasting app. The money you add to the wallet is represented in Satoshis, which are very very very small portions of a Bitcoin. At the time of writing, one US Dollar is worth 2,370.50 Satoshis. The user can then choose to send a certain amount of Satoshis in a period of time, or per episode, or in various other ways depending on the app. These Satoshis are then sent straight from the listener to the creator via the Lightning network on the Bitcoin blockchain. This one intrigued me because it, along with the PodPing system, was a really good way to use the blockchain beyond just a promise of a better currency for the future, or for the purchase of weird monkey pictures. This will allow a lot of people to support their favorite artists no matter where they are, or what their country's banking system is like.

I personally find this new initiative really fascinating. Podcasting has always seemed to have a very independent feel to it, with a bunch of people making their own podcast for whatever they want. And I think the Podcasting 2.0 initiative lets that feel of independence and creativity continue to exist, and even grow, taking back this wonderful thing from the big tech companies trying to shut podcasting into their walled gardens. I am excited to continue exploring the world of Podcasting 2.0, and I will definitely continue writing blog posts about my experiences in looking into this next step in the podcasting world.

This is post #1 of the Podcasting 2.0 collection of posts, and post #1 of my new attempt at #100daystooffload. If you want to hear about the Podcasting 2.0 initiative from one of it's creators, Dave Jones, and hear how this tech can be applied to other open source projects, you can listen to episode 440 of Linux Unplugged here.


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