Yep, those technologies were in a pretty flawed form back then, but at least they were something yet-unseen.
I got to thinking about this, as I saw my pal Bryan in Austin last weekend. He was waxing on about "podcasting", but I had a really hard time coming up with anything but shrugged shoulders. Apparently it's a new wave where people can record their own radio shows and put them in a stream-able format and then put 'em on their iPods and listen to 'em.
Call me a cynic, but I don't see the innovation. Everything required to do this podcasting already exists and has been in a very mature form for years now. Audio editors that can produce broadcast-quality radio shows are commonplace. I don't think I could find a web-browser or server that can't handle streaming audio nowadays. And putting audio on your iPod (or any other portable player for that matter) is now as simple as a right-click "send to" menu. So where does the interesting part come into play?
Heck, back around 1998-1999 I did a year-long feature on my other web page called the "Rant Of The Day". I did it about four times a week, and I just griped about something pointless for about five minutes like apparently I'm using toilet paper incorrectly because TV commercials always show people lovingly touching toilet paper to their faces and I never use it like that. I recorded my broadcast using a little $2 stick-on microphone, edited the broadcast with a $15 copy of Master Sound FX (which later became Sound Forge many years later), converted the broadcast to .RA format with the free RealProducer, and uploaded it to my website with FTP. I eventually got it so that I could produce, edit, and upload an entire broadcast in about 15 minutes.
Funniest was that I had silly background music as I ranted, which I made by turning my satellite dish over to the "all new-age music" channel and turning up the TV volume loud enough for the microphone to hear :)
The difference between my old Rant Of The Day and PodCasting seems like a matter of degree and not a new technology. Nowadays I could get a slightly better microphone and my ever-upgraded copy of Sound Forge along with some background music and special effects and produce a CD-quality streaming MP3 of an hour-long show, and it'd stream in broadband about as quickly as my five-minute show streamed on a 28k modem.
Yeah it's nicer than it was, but where's the "new"? The latest Java plugin certainly runs applets much better than the original HotJava browser did in 1996, but does that make it some kind of new paradigm?
I guess it's just one of those things. When I started this "developer diary" in March of 1998, I just typed it up using Symantec Visual Page (a cheap clone of FrontPage), uploaded it and let folks read it. It wasn't until about four years later that somebody invented the word "blog" and hailed it as something new and innovative. The only innovation I saw was the invention of a funny name, and that's about what I see with this "podcasting".