As a podcaster, I like to see how my podcast looks on various platforms.  So I have a bunch of them installed on my Android phone.  Recently one very popular one, Pocket Casts, has had an update that is drawing a lot of negative attention on Twitter.  

One change I would like to discuss is their use of the term “Archive” when they mean “Delete.”  It is a dangerous switch.  One that trivializes deletion and obfuscates archiving.  

According to Pocket Casts:

The change is not appropriate.  Not at all.  The definition of these two terms is very different and mutually exclusive.

Delete according to is:

to strike out or remove (something written or 

printed); cancel; erase; expunge.

Archive on the other hand means: 

to place or store in an archive

What is an archive you ask?

a place where public records or other historical 

documents are kept.

What organizations like Pocket Casts are doing is attempting to co-opt the term archive.  Allowing you to comfortably remove podcasts from your device under the assumption that you will be able to retrieve those podcasts anytime you like.  But that assumption is false.

Podcasts die.  They disappear and if you happen to “archive” them in Pocket Casts and then go to retrieve a podcast that has taken its files down, you will not be able to retrieve them.

This language change is either lazy, meant to be reassuring to make up for shortfalls in phone storage, or just downright deceptive.  Maybe all three.  It should not be acceptable to us as consumers, we need to clearly know what is happening to what we consume. 

What might seem conveniently disposable now, could contain an interview you need to reference in a future work, or the words of wisdom from some sage podcaster.    Those will disappear one day, but in the meantime, you should not be misled by a piece of software into thinking they have been stored safely somewhere for you to retrieve later.

We deserve better.