As Podcasting catches on, with a swiftly-increasing throng of 'Casters, the questions surrounding this new medium become more relevant to mainstream culture--once a fringe, now in the spotlight. Even the New York Times is getting in on the phenomenon.
Coming from the perspective of a Literature focus in my post-high school education, I have become interested in the particulars of trying to define the role of podcasting in the various canonical rolls of history. Does a primarily sonic medium belong in the same list as Proust, Kafka and Yeats? I submit that Podcasting belongs in a separately-defined subcategory of the post-modern bibliography, as it has the potential to take the movement in directions never before conceived by those august masters of hexameter and open lines.
Post-modernism steps back from the podium of narrator telling a story and brings the focus on how the story is told, often eschewing the presence of a definable author altogether. It can be disjointed or told from multiple perspectives, all gathering threads of the same story like Joyce, or seemingly schizophrenic and disconnected, as the stories of Kafka, with his character Joseph K. awakening an outsider, but with no concrete tension against which to struggle, lost in a carefully-ordered void until his execution, devoid of meaning.
However, to use Podcasting to define Postmodernism would necessarily be stripping it of the postmodern title and reducing it to an easily-definable box, able to be shelved in the rank and files. Postmodernism is necessarily fluid and amorphous, but that is not to say it is chaotic and splintered; rather the term "rough-hewn" would be closer to an accurate description--often carefully crafted, but at its best resembling a sketch in the New Yorker magazine--every line meaningful but seemingly offhand, while poking fun at its very existence as a warped reflection of the real world.
Podcasting can be a wonderful underground voice of the people, a digital Radio Free Geek, if you will, or it can be a mindless babble of sonic assault by people with nothing to say and much time to say it in, the gamut ranging through those whom "the best lack all convictions, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity." We do love our spectacle, but wading through the endless morass of Podcasts from anyone with a microphone and a broadband line can be a daunting task; always hoping the next segment will be the revelatory decree, the one that makes a difference in your life, the transmission for which digital communication was invented, the one that transcends the medium and becomes the Next Big Thing. I just hope that Godot comes soon...