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Looking at the Past; Exploring Directions for the Future

by Tom Johnson on Mar 3, 2007
categories: technical-writing

Paul Colligan, a well-known podcaster behind the site, explores where we've been and where we're going with podcasting. He also made me think about where I've been with podcasting and just where I'm going.

Paul says podcasting exploded with the desire for people to be their own publishers. In the beginning, the process of creating, publishing, and distributing podcasts stretched your technical abilities. It was a hassle, and listeners struggled to receive your content too. That has changed considerably.

Now it has become much easier for podcasters to produce content and for listeners to receive the content. New devices are making the receipt of podcasts onto your iPod as easy as pushing a button when a light flashes. And Gigavox's upcoming audio system will bring content management and automated publishing to the podcaster. The Gigavox platform will provide automated insertion and rotation of ads into your podcasts in hands-free, edit-free way.

So in a nutshell, a couple of years ago podcasting was hard. A couple years from now podcasting will be easy. That might be a general trend in technology.

I usually run at lunch, and today I forgot my headphones, so I had to run in silence (usually I listen to podcasts). Running in silence made me ponder some soul-searching questions. How did I get into podcasting? Where am I going with it? What's my purpose and direction?

Here are a few definitive answers about why I am not podcasting:

  • I am not using podcasting as a marketing vehicle for my consulting company (although it would have been an awesome gig if I had a consulting company or if I were a full-time freelancer).
  • I am not podcasting to generate money from ads (although I would really like to start doing that!)
  • I am not podcasting because I always dreamed of having my own online radio show.
  • I am not podcasting because I like to hear the sound of my voice.
  • I am not podcasting because I have an incredible amount of spare time on my hands and love to play with programs like Audacity.

To be honest, I started podcasting because I needed a topic for my Intercom article on new trends, and you can't write well about something you don't do, especially podcasting. So I jumped in to experiment. I created one show and then I created another, and before long I'd gotten into a rhythm that I couldn't easily step out of, and which I wasn't sure I wanted to step out of.

I've got plans to continue headstrong for as long as I can go. But still I must find a purpose, direction, an overriding motive. Otherwise I will podfade.

Here are some possible purposes for my podcasting:

  • I can podcast to keep myself in the learning groove, avoid falling into stagnant technical writing waters.
  • I can podcast to develop a name and a following, in case I ever want to start my own technical writing cult.
  • I can podcast to develop my oratory skills and analytical ability.
  • I can podcast to see where the medium takes me, being blown by the wind of technology trends.
  • I can podcast to the point where everyone in technical communication will know my name, ensuring either a secure future employment or a total lockout of employment.
  • I can podcast because I want to enliven the technical writing community with information others might need to know.
  • I can podcast because it's fun.
  • I can podcast because it connects me with so many different people who provide guidance, feedback, input, and other direction for my career.
  • I can podcast as an enjoyable tool for learning.
  • I can create podcasts for the same reason I listen to podcasts. (Reason remains unarticulated.)

I was really struck by a post Harry Miller made the other day about finding purpose and brand as a technical communicator. We all need to find that purpose, but that purpose is particularly necessary when you engage in time-consuming peripheral activities like podcasting and blogging. In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away on my blog and podcast, believing with faith that at some future point the purpose will be made known to me.

If you want to share with me your purposes and thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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