A little over 10 years ago, I had this notion.
It was that the Podcasts of the time, growing as they were, were really self-initiated sociology studies; that they would represent a whole range of folks and voices recording ideas and statements with the world extending before them. I also could tell they would often be fleeting and would likely disappear.
So I started to copy them.
This weblog has been around long enough that I can point to my thinking at the time:
This project went on for about a year, I’d say, and during that time it collected many, many mp3 files. I then burned them onto DVD-ROMs and stored the DVD-ROMs away, for “later”.
“Later” is now.
Uploads from all the DVD-ROMs found (so far) in my shipping container are now up on the Internet Archive, in the 2005 Podcast Core Sample. It’s 540 different shows, and about (roughly) 14,000 episodes split among them. I suspect the number will grow as I find more stored DVD-ROMs, but 14,000 should hold people for now.
It’s a wild, wooly and weird collection, to be sure.
It was not clear where Podcasts were going to go, back then. There’s some history of podcasts essays out there, and I won’t try to duplicate them – it’s the case that “make audio files available for people to listen to on a date-based basis” has tons of precursors before the term “podcasting” hits, and when “everybody” seems to be podcasting. General consensus is that 2004 is when it really takes off from non-insidery people, i.e. someone wants to talk about Hot Wheels or Wine and puts up a site RSS feed to let you hear the newest “episode”.
So, the machine I set up did the grabbing, constantly, from 2005 onward, and then, ultimately, the machine encountered issues and I stopped, having considered it a pretty successful project. I would have liked to have grabbed even more, of course, but I was doing a lot of grabbing on spec at the time and I had no idea what if any would hold attention going forward.
So, with the collection now up on the Internet Archive, it’s all accessible, at once, again. I idly checked a few and some of the podcasts have gone on to continue to have episodes, while others, as expected, have been crunched under and lost in the decay of time.
I’m just glad they’re off DVD-ROMs and that a mere 10 years later, people who study or want to understand early Podcasting have another collection from which to draw.