I made a comment on Twitter last night which was impossible to defend in 140 character installments. So let’s unpack it here today.
I wondered if the Ruby Rogues podcast hadn’t ‘cornered’ the market on Ruby podcasting. Not that they drove everyone else out or that everyone is afraid or them or anything negative like that. There’s just no “competition.” (Another qualifier: Additional podcasts wouldn’t necessarily be competition. It’s not a zero sum game.)
I love the Rogues podcast and went back and listened to every episode of interest after I found the show (and some on topics I didn’t much care about). It’s a weekly fixture in my podcast listening.
But I want more. I want to listen to more people talking about Ruby. So I scour the iTunes store and find — very little else. The other mainstay of my podcast listening routine is Giant Robots Smashing Other Giant Robots via Ben Orenstein and Thoughbot. It’s a weekly shorter show devoted to Ruby and Ruby-esque topics. There’s the usual parade of guests, a variety of topics, and occasional mirth and hilarity.
After that? Not much. Ruby5 is still going, with two five minute Ruby news updates per week. Other Ruby shows have podfaded away. It sometimes seems like the glory days of Ruby podcasting might have been five years ago. Even then, it wasn’t all that huge a market.
So why aren’t there more?
I know the Ruby market isn’t THAT big, but there’s room for more podcasts with a variety of angles and personalities, I should think. I compare it to the Apple/iOS podcasting market, which is practically flooded. Putting aside the more general interest tech shows that glance across programming and development for a moment (like Mac Break Weekly or The Prompt or Amplified), you have developer-led shows like Developing Perspective (done by a former Ruby on Rails developer), Edge Cases, Core Intuition (one of whom does some Rails work), Identical Cousins, Accidental Tech Podcast (a more general interest tech podcast, but it gets back to development often enough that I’ll count it here), Debug, Systematic (that might be stretching it a bit), and probably one or two others I’m forgetting at the moment.
Where are THOSE shows for Ruby programmers? Where’s the solo Ruby programmer-led development podcast? Or where’s the show with the two friends discussing their Ruby projects and programming, in general? Where’s the show interviewing Ruby programmers about their history with the language and their views on computers and programming, in general?
It might just be a difference in cultures. iOS developers are often product developers working independently creating stuff they hope to sell directly to consumers. Ruby programmers tend to be consultants who develop other people’s websites, often the kind we’ll never see or care about. They might be company intranets. They might be under an NDA. And, well, websites aren’t as sexy to talk about as GPS-enables smartphones with database access, 3D animation built in, touch interfaces, etc. etc.
iOS developers have new hardware to play with and a new API to use every year. They have a consumer-facing product to sell. Ruby is on version 2. Ruby on Rails is on version 4, nearly a decade later. The big changes aren’t as numerous to provide a constant flow of show topics, nor are they terribly exciting or noticeable to front-end users. And discussing code on a podcast is often the least effective way to deliver the information. Screencasts or blog posts are far more effective.
Maybe what I want is impossible to effectively deliver? Or maybe what I want isn’t really what I want?
What I want is more fun programming discussion centered on Ruby that I can listen to in my drive back and forth to work. If I learn something, all the better. I wish I had time to do it myself, but even my days as a solo podcaster are behind me due to time constraints.
I guess I’m hoping that someone is inspired by other podcasts to create a new one for the Ruby community to enjoy. There are a lot more models than the panel show. Maybe I’ve given someone some ideas here. I’d listen.