Can podcasts turn a profit?

Headphone wearer Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption People are enjoying a wave of new, meticulously produced podcasts

For most of its short history, podcasting has been a largely amateur business, with few signs that it might become a mass medium that would prove attractive either to advertisers or subscribers. Then Serial changed all that.

The true-life crime series about a murder and a possible miscarriage of justice attracted hundreds of millions of downloads - and transformed the way advertisers saw podcasting.

This year, in the UK, a podcast called Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder has been another unexpected hit, telling the story of the unsolved 1987 killing of a private detective, and allegations of corruption among police officers and newspapers. This 10-part series took six months to put together and only got off the ground due to a crowdfunding effort which raised nearly £10,000.

But as it became clear that it was going to be a hit, its creator Peter Jukes was approached by a firm called Acast, which has a bold mission to revolutionise the economics of podcasting. Founded in Sweden three years ago, Acast has rapidly become a leading global platform for podcasts, used by the likes of Buzzfeed and the Financial Times.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder is a true-crime podcast that tells the story of an unsolved 1987 killing

It quickly found a sponsor for Untold, but that, according to Acast's founder, is the bare minimum any successful podcast should target when it is looking to monetise its product. In an interview for today's Tech Tent, Mans Ulvestam told me the reason he and his colleagues set up the business was that they thought podcast economics were broken - "it's been an amateur landscape".

Read full article Can podcasts turn a profit?

Can a computer copy your handwriting?

Media captionWATCH: Could a computer copy your handwriting?

Researchers at University College London have taught a computer to imitate anyone's handwriting.

They have created an algorithm that can take a sample of handwritten text, examine its qualities, and then write any text in the same style.

Read full article Can a computer copy your handwriting?

Broadband deals - is the fog clearing?

woman stressed at laptop Image copyright Thinkstock

Spend half an hour shopping for a broadband deal and you may want to go and lie down in a darkened room for a while.

The adverts bamboozle you with special offers that will expire after six months, put the line rental cost in the small print, and promise you "up to" speeds which you suspect will never be delivered.

Read full article Broadband deals - is the fog clearing?

Facebook's drones - made in Britain

Media captionFacebook's Aquila drone takes to the air

In a warehouse in Somerset, the latest phase in Facebook's bid for world domination has been taking shape.

Or, to put it less dramatically, the social network's plan to connect millions in developing countries is proceeding.

Read full article Facebook's drones - made in Britain

Broadband - do we want it cheap or good?

Fibre optic Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Is Openreach investing enough in fast fibre?

The MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport committee are clear - our UK broadband strategy is going down the wrong path and BT must shoulder much of the blame.

The focus of their report is on BT's Openreach division and its alleged failure to invest in fast fibre. But there are others with questions to answer - notably the government, the regulator, and the broadband users.

Read full article Broadband - do we want it cheap or good?

Blockchain and benefits - a dangerous mix?

Blockchain benefits Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Some benefit claimants in the UK will soon test a blockchain-powered app

The government has quietly launched a bold experiment using the technology behind the virtual currency Bitcoin - and, if anybody notices, it could prove hugely controversial. That is because the trial involves the payment of benefits and could conceivably involve very sensitive data being made public - or at least that's the concern of some critics.

There is a huge amount of excitement around now about the Blockchain, with endless academic studies and a good deal of investment reinforcing the belief that a permanent ever-expanding and tamper-proof online ledger of transactions must have all sorts of wider applications.

Read full article Blockchain and benefits - a dangerous mix?

Gloom and hope for the future in UK tech

Brexit Image copyright Thinkstock

There is new evidence today of how the UK technology sector is feeling about its future after the referendum vote to leave the EU. And the message from a survey carried out by Tech City UK is pretty gloomy - though the organisation itself sees some reasons for optimism.

Tech City UK got responses from more than 1,200 members of the tech community. Questioned in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, 74% of them said they thought the economy would get worse, not better.

Read full article Gloom and hope for the future in UK tech

Moorfields, Google - and a problem with sharing

Eye scan

It is a fascinating experiment that brings together Google's artificial intelligence division and one of the world's leading centres for the treatment of eye conditions.

But the research project that has seen Moorfields Hospital hand over retinal scans to DeepMind has already proved controversial - and, for me, it all feels rather close to home.

Read full article Moorfields, Google - and a problem with sharing

Brexit: Tech leaders try to paint bright Brexit future

Image copyright Thinkstock

It is probably not controversial to say that the UK tech scene, and in particular London, was very much in the Remain camp in the EU referendum.

Tech entrepreneurs were worried about what Brexit would mean for access to the single market, the confidence of investors and their access to skilled staff from across Europe.

Read full article Brexit: Tech leaders try to paint bright Brexit future

'Cut!' - the AI director

Media captionAI technologies from IBM and Microsoft were used to make the video

From Ex Machina to Terminator, artificial intelligence has long been a subject for film-makers. But what if AI could actually make a movie?

At the Cannes Lions advertising festival on Thursday morning, an audience was shown a series of short films in the annual New Directors Showcase, which highlights emerging talent.

Read full article 'Cut!' - the AI director