Podchains is an interesting and much-needed idea that I (personally) have been looking out for a long time. Launched just yesterday, it's essentially del.icio.us for online audio and video – e.g. podcasts, vidcasts, and any other accepted type of video or audio file on the web. The service was created by Chris Garrett and Dave Nichols.
With podcast networks like PodTech.net, GigaVox Media (ITConversations), PodShow, TWiT, and others pushing out literally a ton of content every day, added with all the recommendations from friends ("hey dude, you gotta listen to this one"), blog posts, and the pure magic of discovering something you just have to listen to, it's getting harder and harder everyay to coincide and aggregate so much media. iTunes and a 50 or so feeds alone aren't going to cut it. Just when you think your list is complete you'll come across something else, and in that list only about 5% of the stuff is going to be relevant, interesting, and something that you care about.
So, what do you do? If we go back and rediscover the same problem with all the textual-data we had years ago before social bookmarking and even the general concept of bookmarking came along, we'll know that the power of an extra click is useful and makes lives better and easier. In effect, the same concept applies to other kinds of media, because media is (obviously) media.
Textual bookmarking has a really simple general process: it ends up from your web browser into your social bookmarking tool (whichever you use), along with tags, the number of other people who've bookmarked it, and some other info. In that way, Podchains has a process: it ends up from your web browser into your iPod. And it really is that simple.
Basically, you can obtain a bookmarklet or use the site's interface itself, and when you've found your media, insert it in there along with a title and description, and this now goes into your own RSS feed within an enclosure. You can share your personal RSS feed, and obviously subscribe to it in your favorite podcatcher. The media is now listed in there. Get your podcatcher to download it, and that item's now ready to go into your iPod or MP3 Player.
What It's Missing
Podchains is one solution which certainly has the right idea, although I'm a bit unsure of the way it's been executed. Since this directly affects my personal life and lifestyle, there are a lot of things would like from it that it currently doesn't provide. Add these things, and I would completely incorporate it to my life.
- Autodetection – To bookmark something (for example an MP3 file), I need to be at that MP3 file when I click on the bookmarket. Furthermore, I need to add my own title and description. Why not just let me bookmark the page that contains the link to the media file, then autodetect the media, add it to the enclosures, extract the title and description, etc.
- Multiple Podchains – Currently, one user is limited to only one podchain (i.e. RSS feed). Why not let users create a few (as many as they want), seeing different kind of stuff could go into different feeds – for example, being a PSP user who syncs with iTunes through PSPWare, I have different playlists for different kind of stuff. This would help.
- Social Aspect – I'm really on the lookout for a 'digg for podcasts' (anyone in the hunt for an idea – hint). The current time I spend listening to, frankly speaking, all this crap, I would love to spend it on something more valuable – that I know others like me have approved. Podchains has the bookmarking technology already in place. Why not the social?
- Tagging – How could they have missed this out? Duh! – Although I guess this one sort of comes with the social aspect which they might not have even thought of.
- Podcast Detection – Podchains is currently an extremely simple service, as simple as a bookmarking tool that exports to RSS, and the URL into the enclosure tag as well. Wouldn't it be cool if a podcast that I bookmarked into it actually seemed like a podcast than a random MP3 file?
From what I can see, Podchains definitely has the idea. As an avid podcast-listener, I've been looking out for something like this for months, and it would be so much cool if they extended the service into something much bigger and (hate to say this) less-simpler.