Audible announced a new product on Friday that allows podcast publishers significant control over their product. Ad insertion, monitoring of downloads and listening attention, DRM and more. There are some interesting features that add to the podcasting discussion and normally I’d write about it over at TechCrunch. For instance, Much of what Audible is doing is goes way beyond what Fruitcast (TechCrunch profile) is allowing publishers to do. While Fruitcast allow insertion of ads into podcasts and tracks downloads, Audible is able to pingback listening metadata as well (albeit via a closed file format and crazy prices), something that will be very interesting for publishers.
But wow, did they ever screw up the follow up to the announcement. And it sure was entertaining to watch everything unfold today. There is no way I’m going to point TechCrunch traffic at Audible’s new product, given how they’ve handled themselves.
Instead of embracing the bloggers that would normally talk about this, Mitch Ratcliffe (an Audible consultant) went on an unmitigated, unprovoked character assasination romp (with follow up attacks) against Dave Winer (“he’s willing to steal”), Om Malik and others. This sure is an interesting way to engage the sneezers. As Om puts it, Mitch “goes after the dissenters with a verbal baseball bat”.
You can read all of the drama over at the Meme.
My advice to blogging consultants when they find their product under attack is this. First, talk to the guys who care about this stuff first, before the annoucement, to get their input. Second, try to engage in intelligent, constructive dialog, not ad hominem attacks. Realize that you are speaking on behalf of your client, not just yourself. And if you do start a flame war, and pick the kind of opponent who can defend himself, well, I guess you better feel confident that you can come out of it all without losing your head.
One final note. If you find yourself on the other side of a debate with Dave Winer, Om Malik, Doc Searls, Jeff Jarvis and others, maybe you should rethink your position. Because it is very likely you are wrong.
As an aside, The most interesting idea I read about today was Jeff Jarvis’ call for a new, open audio standard that pings the publisher when a listener opens the file.