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psp.jpgWhile the dust is still settling on the implications of "Podcasting" -- the semi-automated distribution of web content intended for use on digital audio players -- a new distribution medium is rising.

The PlayStation Portable (PSP) is Sony's new portable gaming device. Sony built in the ability to play a variety of media types, including video. But while Sony may have intended that feature to be used to play movie disks, people have already worked out ways to let the PSP play standard web video formats. Some are using this to play ripped DVDs or "TiVo to go" files, but others are setting their sights on something far more interesting: PSPcasting.

Podcasting has made possible an entirely new medium for communication -- part web, part RSS, part radio -- and a growing number of people are exploring its possibilities. One Podcast directory contains about 3,000 different links, with more added daily. Audio on the net is nothing new, of course, but just as blogging provided a structure allowing an explosion of citizen-journalists, Podcasting is enabling a proliferation of citizen-broadcasters.

PSPcasting could do the same for video. Tools for the creation of digital video are easy to come by; what has been missing is a standardized method of distribution not requiring a centralized site. PSPcasting tools are still in their infancy, however. Both the Windows and Mac techniques for moving web videos to the PSP require multiple steps with different applications. This will undoubtedly soon change; the early days of Podcasting had similar technical hurdles.

PSPcasting could be able to go a step further than Podcasting, as well. PSPs have built-in WiFi, and it's possible to surf the web using a browser built into one of the PSP games. It may be possible for programmers to build a PSPcasting application to run on the PSP itself, bypassing the need to use a personal computer as an intermediary.

This isn't meant as a paean to the PSP. Like Podcasts, it's likely that PSPcasts could be used on any media player (regardless of the format's name). The excitement of PSPcasting comes from the possibility of a new medium for distributed communication. Video is powerful, and can be persuasive in ways that audio and text simply cannot. But video is, by and large, available only through highly-centralized corporate distributors. If PSPcasting takes off, its worldchanging aspect won't be the ability to watch a video on a handheld device, but the explosion of personal, independent video creators -- the PSPcast news reports, documentaries, personal journals, and storytellers.

Comments (4)

PSP is an interesting platform - a powerful and relatively open media platform. Its unfortunate that Sony had to be the one to create it, seeing as the PSP is saddles with Sony's usual batch of goofy proprietary formats - UMD and MemoryStick. It seems that Sony left a door open with the inclusion of a standards-compliant implementation of WiFi however; I'm surprised that Sony didn't have a strictly proprietary implementation that would let PSP's communicate only with other PSP's or with branded content-serving base stations. I find it hard to believe that sony intended the PSP as an open, worldchanging device, given their history of content vs. hardware conflict at a corporate level, but if that's the way it goes, then two thumbs up to Sony.

Russell Wendt:

I wouldn't buy one of these, unless the UMB drive were somehow hacked to accept some form of recordable media.
what makes this any better than a palm pc by the way?

Jamais Cascio:

I expect that PSPs with recordable media will be coming in the not too distant future.

Advantages over PocketPC: better screen for video, regular USB (mini), a wider potential user base (because of the games), and WiFi built-in for $250.


The explosion of personal, independent video creators. That is definitely where the technology is going to explode.

I set up www.pspcast.com for this reason. to create a community of video content providers for this awesome peripheral.


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