The University of Commute

Smartphone Cradles

Smartphone Cradles

Although I have listened to podcasts for a number of years I have not had the opportunity until the last two years to do any real commuting, and recent car changes have had me in a quest for the ideal cradle for my mobile devices. Windscreens are set to far back to have a cradle suctioned onto the glass, my previous integrated cigarette lighter cradle (above left) does not sit well in the Mazda 2 due to the gearstick position, the CD player sticky pad (above right) is angled wrong (again the cars fault) so I cannot see the screen, finally I have the sticky(ish) weighted bean bag cradle (above centre) that is as near as I am going to get to cradle perfection. Podcasting is continuing to grow year on year and is only set to increase in part to the YouTube generation and technological developments that are becoming ubiquitous with society.

Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns is where we will approach , ever increasingly (exponentially), a barrier or point where we cannot progress with currently. In not only technological but social and cultural terms. As this barrier approaches (estimated before the end of the 21st century around 2045) we will develop technologies to overcome the barrier. As we become more effective we do activities the more effective we become at finding ways to learn how.

Much is discussed around the fact that teaching has fundamentally not changed (certainly not from a didactic perspective) but the advent of education radio and television is a good example of what was to become a widespread example of taking opportunities of a new channel to support learning, I remember in my Junior days huddled round the TV at school watching people in flowery shirts and brown corduroy trousers weave out a narrative (my Mum always likes to retell the story of coming downstairs one weekend morning around 7am to see me engrossed at the age of 7 watching the joys of childbirth!). Computers have played their part with Computer Based Training, the World Wide Web and more recently mobile devices and all of its abilities to combine all these prior channels and more.

Commuting was the time to listen to music or the radio (portable devices were not as widely used as they are today – I still have my walkman with graphic equaliser in working order). People are now happily plugging into a range of media devices in work at home, out-and-about and scoiety has moved to a point where it isn’t uncool to watch an education video on YouTube or Google that obscure fact. With an average commute time of 20-40 minutes the commute is fast become an opportunity to swot up and the Podcast medium which pushes out episodes and serials is fast becoming the new “University of Commute”.

With the growing trend of YouTubers recording products, hobbies and talents there has been a demand for high quality recordings at an affordable price. To voice-over a product unboxing or narrate captured game-play to the X-factor generation cranking out their latest cover or recently penned tune. The availability of well priced quality hardware and software to capture, edit and produce podcasts coupled with the growth in recent years of mobile devices has helped recent growth.

However a number of reports debunk a big surge in the last five years for a number of reasons but generally downloads do not equal listeners and listers do not equal listens. A range of practices exist with some being modern system practices to intentional bumping up of downloads….

Duplication: a downloaded podcast episode that is downloaded to iTunes is also downloaded to an iPod, an iPhone and even an iPad for some. I certainly download a copy on my iTunes as well as my iPhone for all my podcasts doubling the downloaded numbers but giving me the choice to play on my main PC or on the go.

Robots/Crawlers/Aggregators: systems that seek out new material to store and archive.

Twitter Bombing: a practice where podcasters are advertising direct links to their current episode on Twitter, some advertising in excess of 150 times in an hour and utilising currently trending hashtags. The posts are seen and the links clicked on before the downloaders realise the audio files are unrelated to the hashtag. #duped!

Unplayed or Partial Plays: I have the capacity to download all the episode for all the podcasts I listen to. I certainly don plays every episode of every podcast, the more stablished podcasts might have more recent episodes that update previous ones. I might even partially play an episode for a particular segment or discard a podcast of it is not what I hoped it would be about. Note: this does have less of an effect in a streamed podcast (not fully downloaded) as the podcast is streamed in chunks and as is monitored as such.

But the expectation of further growth in the next decade is a fairly solid prediction based on developments in the car industry. With a number of cars already having in- line auxiliary (the 3.5mm jack connection) as standard or Bluetooth connectivity and listening to net based streamed services such as Spotify, coupled with car production for 2015 expecting to see 50% have such connectivity as well as iOS (Carplay), Android (Android Auto) and the Car Connectivity Consortium (MirrorLink) car system functionality, and predicted 100% web connectivity by 2025 for new cars the opportunities will certainly exist even if you don’t have a mobile device.

So if the market has growth potential that does not necessarily mean take up. However with road maps being developed to reach the 50/50 model of educational delivery to take account of the Feltag report recommendations and people lives being ever increasingly busy other channels of reaching out will be explored.

YouTube Video: Why Podcasting Is Bigger Than You Think