If you ran out of topics for clever conversation at the Portable Media Expo (aka Podcast Expo), you could always fall back on snarky comments about the expo next door that also dealt with portability. The Podcast Expo shared the Ontario Convention Center with the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI) Convention & Trade Show. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I made my share of jokes about this too.
Before we simply write off our portable brethren as just a fun party joke, perhaps it's worth checking if there's anything to learn from them. After all, it's a $1.5 billion a year industry according to the PSAI. Podcasting is method of distribution that didn't create a need but filled a need: worthwhile rich media that could be experienced away from the computer. Needless to say, the porta-potty also filled a preexisting need for sanitary mobility. The PSAI's only been around since 1970, so let's examine the PSAI vision statement that was part of this rapid growth and see if any of it applies to podcasting:
1. Is recognized internationally as the credible, authoritative voice of the portable sanitation industry.
2. Continues to educate the industry, general public and government entities and provides tools to promote safety and health.
3. Represents international members through a regional network and assists and promotes the setting of standards and services as a repository of information and resources for all.
4. Through our efforts, the environment is a cleaner, safer place.
As for #1, I think we know there'll never be one authoritative voice of podcasting, no matter how hard certain people might try. The controversies at the expo seemed to prove that no one's word was above scrutiny. Points #2 and #3 are a bit more appealing for podcasting, especially the need to educate the general public. As for #4, podcasting could be a safer place in terms of encouraging podcasters to normalize podcasts so as not to damage listeners' ears. Make the podcasting environment cleaner? No thank you.