P.P.M. (Personal Podcast Management)
As I was going through my weekly routine of synching my new podcasts onto my mp3 player, deleting old ones, and then listening to them on the way to work today, I thought: Why can't my mp3 player act like my PVR? I realize that podcasting is still in it's infancy, and big companies like Apple have really helped spread the idea and community, but there are some really rough edges that I think can be smoothed out. I'm not sure how most of you deal with your podcasts, but I currently listen to about 5 regularly, which isn't very many at all, but it has already become unwieldy. As a result I have some ideas that I've borrowed from the PVR space that I think would be a perfect fit for podcasting.
Here's the cornerstone to my idea - a 'casted' field in the ID3 tag. The reason the ID3 tag is better than a normal database is because it's standardized and it makes the user free to use any program they want to organize their music; rather than locking them into their manufacturer's program (which most often is quite inferior to programs like J.River's Media Center).
This could be used many ways. First, a 'casted' field-aware mp3 player would be able to read and modify this field. You can think of this in terms of a TiVo watched metaphor, (it's 'casted' because you obviously can't watch a podcast, now can you?) you play it and at the end, the 'casted' field gets toggled to 'yes'. You would be able to easily see which shows you've listened to this way, and even in cases like the iPod Shuffle, the player would not play those files again until all the files on the player were played. No more duplicates, and skipping around to figure out which shows you've already listened to.
Second, a 'casted' field-aware music jukebox program would check your podcasts' tags upon synching, and could do a number of things - ideally, I would like the 'casted' podcasts to be removed from the player, and any newly downloaded podcasts to be uploaded - automatically. You could of course reset this tag in the player if you want to keep it around for your 'best of' playlist. I realize this isn't far from a normal sync option in that the new podcasts are uploaded, but think about it - 20mb per podcast per week. Even if you have 5 weeklies like me, after 10 weeks you're over a gigabyte. After 6 months you have an extra 2.5gb. Sure you could delete them after you listen to them, but seriously - who enjoys taking out the trash? I don't like it, and I bet I'm not alone.
Then continuing with this metaphor, what's to keep someone from developing TiVo for podcasts? Give me some recommendations! There's millions of podcasts out there, how the heck am I supposed to find that diamond in the rough? SageTV finds TV shows for me that I never would have found otherwise based on my viewing habits. I want that for my podcasts.
It's pretty simple in theory, but it isn't something I can do sitting here writing my blog. It's going to take a player to adopt it first, and I know exactly who it will be - Apple, are you listening? Just make sure you think of me when that earning report comes in, okay Steve?