Screencasting's one-year anniversary

A screencast is a digital movie in which the setting is partly or wholly a computer screen, and in which audio narration describes the on-screen action. It's not a new idea. The screencaster's tools -- for video capture, editing, and production of compressed files -- have long been used to market software products, and to train people in the use of those products. What's new is the emergence of a genre of documentary filmmaking that tells stories about software-based cultures like Wikipedia,, and content remixing. These uses of the medium, along with a new breed of lightweight software demonstrations, inspired the collaborative coining of a new term, screencast. [Full story at O'Reilly Network]

The O'Reilly Network asked me to define and explain screencasting for an article in its "What is...?" series. By a happy coincidence, it was published exactly one year1 after I chose the name screencast, proposed separately by Joseph McDonald and Deeje Cooley, from among a wealth of delightful alternatives including dynavid, democast, and appflick.

Last week a reporter interviewed me about screencasting and asked: "Is this the next big thing, like podcasting?" I don't think so. It's true that the word has entered the vernacular: 200 Google hits for screencast in April 2005, 60,000 in June, 325,000 in November. But I don't expect screencast ever to reach podcast's 65,900,000, because the scope of the medium is inherently more bounded. Encompassing both music and the spoken word, podcasting addresses a large swath of human experience. Screencasting addresses the much narrower slice of human experience that's mediated by computers, software, and networks.

That slice is, of course, growing by leaps and bounds. The web is becoming part of the fabric of everyday life. In coffee shops, living rooms, and libraries, as well as in the workplace, our real experience of the world -- and of one another -- is increasingly augmented by virtual experience. Screencasting lives at the intersection of these worlds, I told the reporter. As virtual experience becomes part of everyday life, we'll want to document, describe, and share that experience for the same reasons we tell stories, sing songs, and show pictures.

1 Thanks for reminding me, Chad!

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