One of the interesting developments during 2020 was the set up of The Podcast Index as a decentralised, categorised podcast directory that is intended to always be available for free. Noting specifically that “Apple is a very centralized private entity that is controlling pretty much what everybody considers the default yellow pages for podcasting,” Adam Curry—who was part of the initial meeting that led to the creation of the medium twenty years ago—launched the Index with Dave Jones.
Since then, various podcast hosts now publish podcasts on their platforms to the Index, which reports 1.2 million podcasts within its directory as of December.
The efforts have also expanded into discussions about the podcast ‘namespace’—tags that podcast platforms can support for creators, and podcasts apps can also make available for listeners.
While this has typically been initiated by Apple so far, The Podcast Index is continuing discussion for new tags that can be added to feeds. One such example is
<podcast:locked>, a tag to help prevent unauthorized transfers of a creator’s podcast feed into a platform, aimed at preventing the piracy problem discussed earlier.
The Podcast Index can quickly become the de-facto directory for podcasters and for podcasts apps, while retaining the essence of the medium as an open, collaborative space as an anti-thesis to the headlines this year. The Index and its namespace work will also help standardise creator and listener experiences.
"It's probably a fair criticism that innovation in podcast apps and delivery essentially stagnated as soon as Apple got on board. What's exciting to watch with Adam and Dave's Podcast Index work is that they're getting engagement from a number of great people who are all keen to get things done, rather than play politics with endless meetings. I've been involved with some new tags and think it's a helpful step forward. I look forward to others playing their part.”
The last update to the RSS specifications was August 2017, which added support for adding season and episode numbering, as well as tagging episodes as trailers, or bonus episodes. ↩︎