Podcast for Your Life

Podcasts seem almost too simple to be considered a modern marvel–but the technology of the future relies on simplicity to thrive.

While shiny chrome futures with cars whizzing through the air and robots that do all of the housework and pocket knives that are can-openers but also personal assistants are fun to imagine, the fact is we are already living in the future–and it’s much simpler to comprehend than The Jetsons lets on. Aesthetically, however, the Jetsons had a lot right: the cartoon was heavily influenced by the ’60s modernistic style, with clean lines and minimalistic shapes, to better showcase the wondrous accomplishments of their gadgets. We see the same aesthetic in modern devices like the iPhone: a single button to turn the device on/off, two more for volume control, and only one for navigating the software. This is the culmination of years of decadence and excess being thrown out the window. Our modern cellphones are throwbacks to previous decades.

Podcasts, too, harken back to the before-times, specifically radio. Podcasts can be accompanied by video (a video podcast, obviously enough) or be audio-only–why is this old-school form of communication so popular? Perhaps because of its simplicity: A podcast knows what it wants to do, and it only has to make its viewers listen. This is far more appealing than turning on the television and being assaulted by advertisements for entertainment, for news, for products, not to mention finally finding whatever you wanted to watch in the first place–generally, television is inconvenient because it spends so much time interrupting itself. Podcasts are there whenever someone bothers to look for them. This is why consumers of all kinds of media turn to the internet.

This gives the podcast an advantage over traditional radio as well–it is more convenient. AM/FM radio accounted for 85% of total radio reaching consumers in 2012, whereas online streams only reached 15% [source]–but podcasts and streams are still growing. In 2006 only 22% of the American population reported knowing of podcasts, with only 11% tuning in; by 2012 45% of Americans knew what a podcast is and 29% were listening [source]. Currently 45% of Americans (ages 12+) have ever listened to a podcast. What’s more is that 67% of podcast listeners don’t mind advertisements in their content, compared to a paltry 6% who tolerate television and radio consumers combined. [source] Podcasts are going to be a great opportunity for advertisers in the future. Radio shows are already releasing podcast versions of their segments for downloads–the media is being a little slow on the uptake, but it would be extremely advantageous for news organizations to hop on this boat too.

There’s no stopping podcasts from being the next big source of entertainment, news, and socialization.

The Past is the Future–Sort Of

The Internet might be the world’s largest recycling bin. But things never come back exactly as you leave them, so perhaps recycling factory is a better descriptor–or recycling plant, to use proper terminology (and a great pun).

Old viral videos have a habit of resurfacing every now and again to make (and remake) the news. The same rumors appear periodically (see: Super Moon, Morgan Freeman’s death, et cetera). And old Internet staples come into use again.

For instance, .gifs. They’re silent moving pictures on a loop, introduced in 1987. They fell out of use as emoticons and flash pictures and other forms of expression became popular on the evolving web. In the past few years, .gifs have made a comeback. Why? It’s not really clear. How? Reddit and Tumblr can perhaps be to blame–or thank–as these users seem most fond of these clips, and use them to express emotions (or “feels” to use terribly inane ‘net speak). Buzzfeed also seems addicted to these old school pics, and every item on their endless lists is illustrated with at least one, maybe two if they’re both deemed apropos, or complement each other well.

Another old Internet fad being raised from the dead? Blogs! Well, “dead” may be a bit strong. Blogs have been in fairly consistent use over the past decade or so; the matter is what they’re being used for. A while ago blogs were adapted by everyone–businesses, writers, (some) media sources, angsty teens. Slowly but surely, through the early 2000s, angsty teens took over the blogosphere on sites like Xanga, Blogspot, LiveJournal, DeviantArt. As social media has come into play, many of these blogs can still be found, especially on Tumblr. But blogs have been coming out of their emo-phase funk and are emerging as viable business, promotional, and media opportunities. Not the teen journal-ridden places they once were, blogs might just be the future of writing on the internet.