PodTech’s content and Web site challenges

The PodcastNYC.net blog says that PodTech is "boring" and "corporate."

I said it before and I totally agree. Although I do have to defend them a bit — John Furrier got on my radar screen by doing awesome interviews with executives. Now, I doubt we'll do a "Dawn and Drew" show. Sex talk just isn't my style. I'd rather listen to an executive from Seagate talking about their new hard drives than Dawn and Drew (although I've met Dawn and Drew and respect a lot what they've done — they are far more likely to get rich because of their format than I am. Anyone miss the commercial success of Howard Stern?).

Anyway, I talked about the 21 things that I'd fix about Podtech's podcasting and videoblogging Web site and several people emailed me and asked me to post the list. I sent this the night before I decided to take the job to the Web 2.0 Working Group. John Furrier had asked the list for suggestions about what to improve.

I thought it'd be interesting to post that list here and see what kind of discussion it'd start.

Obviously I'm doing a lot of brainstorming on what kinds of shows we can do together, and also how to build a network of videobloggers and podcasters. More on those soon.

1) I can't tell which podcasts are "paid advertisements" or are true editorial. I would spell this out very clearly so no one is confused about which things have been sponsored and which things are being done without any financial renumeration.

2) The About Us page desperately needs its own podcast, and needs much more info about your mission, who your team is, why PodTech is interesting and/or more relevant than other podcasting networks.

3) The UI is confusing. Tabs along the top, and nav choices along the left side all make for too many choices. Simplify.

4) When I pull down the category list I see a ton of categories I don't see elsewhere. I want a guide where I can go and see all your channels, all on one page, all with an explanation about what they do, how often they'll be updated, the team working on that channel, and ways I can give feedback.

5) If I only have 30 minutes to listen to one of your offerings this week, which one is your best? I can't see any hierarchy of importance. Is there any way for me to tell you what kind of person I am and have the choices change, for instance?

6) Why isn't there a "load up my iPod" feature. For instance, let's say I got one of those new 30GB models and I have 5GB of music. Why can't I tell your system "I have 25GB free, load me up" and leave my iPod plugged in overnight and have your system fill up all available space on my iPod? That way I'll always have something to listen to when I'm on a plane somewhere. For extra credit, let me delete each podcast after I listen to it. Next time I hook my iPod up, your system should know I've already listened to the Network Neutrality podcast, so no need to load it up again.

7) I'd like to hear what people think is a better approach, 20 videos on one page with no scrolling like On10 does it or 15 audios on one page with a ton of scrolling. Compare at http://www.on10.net/media/ and http://www.podtech.net/

8) Where's the "contact us" links?

9) The blog sucks. Doesn't look like a blog. Doesn't smell like a blog. And is missing personal touch.

10) Subscribe page is WAY TOO HARD. Drop down list boxes? That's SSOOO Web 1.0. Heheh. Where's the orange XML icon or the Firefox RSS icon?

11) Can you match Odeo's benefits stance? http://www.odeo.com/ I love how they explain the benefits of diving in further. I don't see any payoff promise that you guys are giving us.

12) You do realize the most looked at realestate on a web site is the top left corner of your page, right? So why is your logo so dominant there? Why do you waste an inch of the top of the page without putting anything valuable there?

13) Lots of users might visit you to learn about podcasting yet there's no links here to anything explaining what a podcast is or how to do one yourself. Also, why aren't you linking to your competitors? Everyone will be able to find them anyway, why not become an authority on podcasting since you've tied your network to that meme. Most humans have no idea what a podcast is or why they'd want one.

14) Poor search engine optimization. How will people find your podcasts? I doubt they'll be looking for podcasts. If I were at Google searching I'd be looking for "audio to put on my iPod." Your title tag has none of those terms in it. And, in fact, has many terms that no one really would search for. Is anyone searching for, say, "Silicon Valley" and expecting to find anything useful on your page? I seriously doubt it. Same for "Technology." Too generic of a search term. I'd think your title tag and SEO strategy out a lot more.

15) I hear your ID3 tags are messed up in iTunes (I have to check that out for myself, but someone told me your podcasts aren't displaying well in iTunes).

16) Next to the word "subscribe" put either the orange XML icon or the newer Firefox RSS icon. Icons are important. The feed list is way lame, though. I should be able to right-click on each feed and subscribe (or click on it and subscribe in Firefox or IE 7).

17) What's the payoff to listen to your news channel vs. say, reading Memeorandum or Google News or CNET? You don't tell me, so why should I be able to figure that out on my own?

18) You put "upcoming events" on your page along the right. What does that mean? Are these events Podtech.net will be at? If so, tell us. Is it just general tech events? Well, why not just link to a better and more complete calendar. And, if it's so we can meet you at these events, put more info on how to find you. Include cell phone numbers, etc.

19) I would add a much more personal touch. This looks like a corporate advertisement. What sets you apart from News.com or any other site? What makes you an authority on all this stuff? Is your stuff more entertaining? More in depth? Exclusive info you can't get anywhere else? What's the payoff? I don't see one and I have to listen to too many things to figure out if there's one here. I'm going to go elsewhere.

20) Why are the coolest looking things on this page the ads? You need to spend a lot more time on the photography and artwork. Compare your artwork to Engadget and it isn't even close: http://www.engadget.com/ — Engadget pulls me in and makes me click on things.

21) Where are the John Furrier interviews? Those are the ones I loved PodTech for yet you don't make it easy for me to find them. Speaking of that, why can't I find all your podcasts by interviewer?

22) Where are the shows that break the rules? Are there any? Are there shows I'm going to learn something from? Or be challenged by? Or be entertained by? Or concepts like "Dawn and Drew" that are only going to be available from you? (IE, something different than I can hear anywhere else) I can't figure that out here.

23) Any way to listen to just the parts of the podcast YOU think are important? Again, I don't have time to listen to podcasts. So, can you give me a 30 second "best snippet" for me to sample each one by? Or, can I download one show from your network a week and get your favorite pieces of each one?

Can you come up with any others? The team is already working on each of these, I've noticed improvements over the past week.

Oh, and sometime soon I'll explain the business challenges that are facing nanomedia content networks. They are deep too.

Intel posts video from VloggerCon

Intel was at VloggerCon and interviewed a bunch of people, including yours truly. You'll get a hint of some of what I'm thinking about. How do I get the video from my HD camcorder to your computer without going broke?

So far it looks like the only way is to use Bittorrent. The problem there is scale of distribution. But, if more and more people put out good content and show other people how to use Bittorrent to do the same, then the network will get bigger and bigger.

I noticed that at VloggerCon only about 1% of the camcorders I saw were HD models. I told people that would be about 30% at next year's Vloggercon. Why? Cause people who have HD screens are HUNGRY for content. 

Speaking of content, remember I was talking about Kiruba Shankar, the guy in India who called me up on Gizmo the other day? Well, his recording of that call is now online and it's really a fun conversation. It shows that anyone around the world can record a podcast. The quality is great (remember, we were thousands of miles apart using a free piece of software). 

One of the first things I want to do is go visit Kiruba in India. 

Chris Pirillo locks journalists out of Gnomedex

Chris Pirillo and Ponzi told me last night that journalists are begging to be let into Gnomedex now that Senator John Edwards is doing the keynote. They told us that every ticket is a press pass and that they don't give away free tickets and that journalists are welcome to buy a ticket, but one problem, Gnomedex is sold out. So any other journalists who want to come are gonna be forced to sit in the cove. "What about if Steve Ballmer dropped by?" I asked. He said he wouldn't get in either unless he found a ticket on eBay somewhere. He did say that some journalists, like Todd Bishop of the Seattle PI, had the good forsight to buy a ticket before they were sold out.

I'm glad Chris is sticking by his guns and treating everyone equally. I know it's really tough to turn away "big name" journalists. 

Scoble hype around the world

You know your life is totally out of whack when major news outlets write stuff like this:

The Guardian: Who is Robert Scoble and does anyone care?

PC Magazine: Gates vs. Scoble Smackdown. (Um, Jim, can you tell me what kind of Merlot you were drinking when writing this? I'd love some of that! Heheh.)

Redmond Magazine: No more Scoble to kick around. (What, am I going somewhere?)

Inquirer: Ego-crazed Scoble burns bridges. (Heheheh. What I love is that this headline got Valleywag to join in with its own headline: How to make news from nothing: The Inquirer's hyperbole.)

The Economist: Blogging Off (If there was one thing that put me on the corporate blogging map, it was being in the Economist. That magazine is more influential with executives than even the New York Times.)

Whew, all this because I took a new job.

Oh, several people asked whether I knew Bill Gates would quit this week. I had absolutely NO idea until minutes before I posted about it.

Sometimes in life you gotta get lucky. Making my decision last weekend instead of this weekend was definitely lucky.

Happy Father’s Day

Patrick woke me up this morning by giving me a backrub, then he led me downstairs where Maryam made me waffles. Is life good? You bet!

We're watching the World Cup on our new HDTV. HD will do more for soccer than any other single thing. Damn, it totally changes how enjoyable the game is to watch because you can see a broader swath of play and it's stunningly better quality.

The US stunned me against Italy yesterday. I thought they were gonna get slaughtered. If it weren't for the refs they might have won, and even being a man down they tied.

Anyway, hope you're having a great father's day.