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Sean Wheller
Aug 12 2006
Podcasts for Customer Support
Saturday, 12 August 2006

Way to go! Podcasting seems to be all the rage. This revolutionary, home-grown technique by which everyday people are producing audio and video shows on just about every subject imaginable, so that others can download them for easy listening on portable audio players, seems to be everywhere. Now I wonder, can this new medium be applied in technical communications?

With so much online buzz about Podcasts and Podcasting, my mind got to thinking about the applications for this technology in the space of customer support, training and knowledge transfer in general.

When I first started to get interested in Podcasts, I was amazed at the number of people doing them and the subjects on which I could find Podcasts. Within a very short space of time I had sampled and added a list of Podcasts to my amaroK. I have been listening to them for a few months now, mostly technology and Linux geek stuff like LugRadio.

Most of the Podcasts out there seem to be produced by people who just want to have fun and express themselves. These productions remind me of typical hobbyist style recording studios, tin voices, poor sound and little structure. Yet, despite the obvious lack of professionally trained voices, acoustic equipment and sound mixing, there is something refreshing and extremely informative about them. Perhaps it is just the absolutely raw and human nature of the programs that makes them so appealing.

Looking around the Internet, I found that many of the Podcasts are niche, appealing to a specific group of people with specific interest. They seem to be very popular, with several hundred regular and loyal listeners who are all over the world.

One day I stumbled across Linux Reality, a podcast aimed at the new Linux user. While reviewing the archive of Linux Reality Podcasts it dawned on me that what I was listening to could be used as another way to train and support users on technology products. Can this hip and trendy new medium be used as a better way to communicate and transfer knowledge to users?

I think it can. I predict that the skill of “Podcast Production” will soon be a great benefit to communicators within 5-years. Why not? In a short space of time we have gone from printed text, to online help, to web pages, to screen casts. Podcasting could be just another twist in the overall move toward hypermedia production and presentation of technical information.

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Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved.

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