Media: A Moment with Marquis

Those of you foolish or bored enough to have shared more than just one or two Moments with Marquis over the past year will understand that your columnist has a healthy (he thinks) distrust of the new-fangled and unproven. His instinct is invariably to size up the brassy arriviste, to deride the cocky claims of the newcomer; basically, to regard everything and anything he doesn't entirely understand as dubious bollocks. Hell, I've made a career out of it - don't mock.

The latest media gizmo to hit the hype is - need you ask? - podcasting.

Now I know from first-hand experience that an iPod is the coolest gadget in the Solar System. Everyone in our family under the age of 25 has one, including, for all I know, the dog. (His favourites: Snoop Doggy Dog, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Bach and Offenbach but not, of course, Claude Debussy ... That's enough pathetic dog jokes - Ed.)

We seem to have small people living here who have evolved white wiry attachments to their ears ... Darwin would be fascinated.

Even I, a Dansette record player man through and through, can see the attraction of the iPod. It is the size of a box of Swan Vestas, has a grillion tunes in it, looks sleek and minimalist and costs a fortune.

If you like the iPod, you are bound to go for podcasting. Er, no.

Podcasting, and correct me if I'm wrong, is about bunging bits of speech (programmes, content, that sort of thing) on to your iPod for consumption at your own chosen time. A bit like hamsters stuffing their cheeks for later.

Because podcasting has started to get some serious column inches, the gist of which is essentially "get podcasting or be square", I started to wonder whether my natural aversion to all things barely out of their wrappers might not be horribly wrong for once.

Joy of joys, then, when I found myself lunching with one of the media industry's most clued-up new-media guys, whose instant response to my tentative enquiry about podcasting and its merits was: "Don't give it a thought, podcasting is just 'talking books'." Talking books! How brilliant is that? What could be more prosaic, old media and generally un-hip than talking bloody books?

So that's one more brilliant new idea heading for the recycle bin, one more triumph for your columnist's gut instinct. Then again, what if the clever iPod people go a bit further and combine the grillion tune thing with digital radio to make a thing the size of a pillbox that ... Oh God, it doesn't bear thinking about.