This afternoon, another social media networking tool was born. Following in the footsteps of blogs, podcasts, and twitter, the pencast is another way for people to expose their ideas to the world at large. Livescribe, makers of the Pulse smartpen, have just released a new tool that can be used to upload notes, drawings, and audio recordings made with their smartpens to the Internet.
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Users will need to upload their files to the Livescribe Community page, but they can then link their 'pencasts' anywhere they want. Artists can share new sketches the moment they finish, and writers who don't want to lug around their netbooks can transfer their handwritten notes to the internet with ease.
Anyone who purchases a Pulse smartpen automatically gets 250MB of free space on Livescribe's website. With this announcement, we're expecting them to start increasing that amount shortly. If Livescribe wants this to be as popular as podcasting, they're going to need to remove as much of the financial burden associated with using their product as possible. Smartpens are currently retailing for $150 (1 GB version) and $200 (2 GB version), so anywhere they can cut customer costs is going to benefit them.
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Honestly, I think 'pencasts' are a really neat idea, but I don't expect them to really take off until we see the smartpen market start to blossom. When a few more retailers start unveiling products, and cheaper or free hosting for pencasts starts to proliferate is when we'll really see this take off. This idea has the potential to be huge, especially within artistic communities like DeviantArt. I have no doubts that Livescribe will find enough fans to keep the idea alive until the technology gets a little more popular.