Audio from the O’Reilly OS X Conference

I wasn’t able to record audio at the OS X conference last week. I really wanted to bring you Lenn Pryor’s presentation on podcasting, but we just couldn’t make it work. Niall Kennedy managed to snag recordings of two presentations, however: How to Run Your Software Business and Messaging & Branding; After the Product is Developed, What’s Next? Niall tells me he hopes to continue to cover more tech events and share what is going on in the Bay Area with a larger world audience.

Capturing Ratings from iPods

Here’s a copy of a message I just posted to the iPod Developers’ mailing list:

Here’s a whacko idea just to think about for the time being. The
iPod, iTunes and perhaps other players allow listeners to rate
tracks. It’s a 1-5 stars thing on the Apple products.

Would’t it be cool if there was a way to transmit those ratings back
to the podcaster as a form of automated feedback?

I’ve spent no time thinking about the implementation or the
implications, but thought I’d just throw the raw idea out to the list
for comment.


Doug Kaye, Producer
IT Conversations

Who Invented Podcasting?

Dave asks, “should we just overlook that the story being passed around is wrong, or should the bloggers and podcasters care to have the real story get out there?”

I say we overlook it. I agree that Dave and Christopher Lydon created the first podcasts. I copied what they did for IT Conversations, which I believe was the second delivery of podcasts. Adam hasn’t wrangled this honor from Dave and Chris. He’s never claimed to do anything other than what he’s done. It’s the media and our own lack of intervention that has allowed the record to go astray.

But you know what? Who Cares? As the spiritual leader of podcasting and the author of the first podcatcher (iPodder), Adam has done more to promote this new idea than anyone. I’d rather see podcasting continue to flourish along its current track than worry about setting the record straight. Podcasting has been great for IT Conversations, possibly the cause of 2x in listenership. I’m far more grateful for that than I’m concerned about any pat on the back. But then again, I didn’t invent anything, so it doesn’t really cost me anything to lose the second-place honor. 🙂

Update: Eric Rice reminded us that Harold Gilchrist was audioblogging long, long before podcasting or IT Conversations.

Free Good Music for Podcasts

A few days ago I wrote about non-RIAA music for podcasts and IT Conversations’ licensing of music fom Magnatune. Here’s an interesting comment from John Buckman of Magnatune:

As far as I’m concerned, a podcast is a non-commercial use of Magnatune’s music and as such, covered by the Creative Commons use of Magnatune’s catalog, hence requiring no fee or further permission.

Lots of great music in the Magnatune catalog. Go for it!

John C. Dvorak Trashes Podcasting and IT Conversations

In his online column today, John C. Dvorak explores the podcasting phenomenon. Unfortunately he uses IT Conversations as his only example and he spends nearly half his time analyzing the site’s user interface. The result is an analysis of podcasting that is both superficial and inaccurate.

Podcasting isn’t about the HTML interface. It’s about the RSS feeds and the transparent (i.e., no UI) transfer of audio files directly to players. Did Dvorak use one of the many fine podcatching (receiving) utilities, even one for Windows? No. He missed the point and focused on orthogonal issues.

IT Conversations is to podcasting what eBay is to brochureware web sites. You can podcast without any web site at all. You just need to generate an RSS 2.0 feed with audio-file enclosures. The typical podcast web site is nothing more than a link to one or more MP3 files, and for good reason. Most podcasts are intentionally current and short-lived whereas IT Conversations is all about the 230 programs in its growing archives and hence has an infrastructire and UI to help users find their way through the catalog. IT Conversations also offers many beyond-podcasting features such as streaming as well as downloading, AAC as well as MP3, Windows Media Player support, tracking of the shows you’re heard, email notification of new shows and much more.

IT Conversations predates the podcasting phenomenon by over a year, and I’m sorry that IT Conversations is being held up as a negative example of this exciting and explosive phenomenon. Had Dvorak subscribed to one of IT Conversations (many) RSS feeds and used a podcatacher, he would have had a much better sense of what podcasting was all about. Better yet would have been to skip IT Conversations altogether and review one of the many great podcasting pure plays. Instead he test-drove a tank and concluded that cars are too hard to park.

Well, what do you expect from a guy who puts circuses at the top of his pecking order of entertainment?

Update: John goes after Todd Cochrane at Geek News Central, too.

Music for Podcasts

Lots of discussion this week about non-RIAA music for podcasts. Early this year, when I decided IT Conversations would be more than just a hobby for me, I knew I needed to stay 100% legitimate with regard to music and other intellectual properties. I began using some music from Tanj, one of my son’s L.A. bands. [Sorry their web site is defunct.] I then spent many hours investigating what it takes to legally play and pay for mainstream music. I sent email to ASCAP, BMI, RIAA, SESAC and SoundExchange offerring to pay for music, but got only one response. It’s a truly Baroque system. [HowStuffWorks has a helpful tutorial on music licensing.] Bottom line: You can’t do it. If you’re running an Internet radio station, you’ll find a license for you. But there are no licenses for occasional use of so-called RIAA music. The closest category has minimum fees of thousands of dollars per year even if you just play one track to a handful of users.

At that time I was working on a project with Simon Carless and the Internet Archives. Simon suggested I get in touch with John Buckman at Magnatune, and after a brief exchange through email, I licensed some of the Magnatune collection for IT Conversations.

Magnatune may be the leading open record label, but if you look around there’s a lot of very good non-RIAA music that may be used either without a license, under Creative Commons, or available at reasonable cost. Not only is it a great way to get your music legally, but it also supports an important challenge to the copyright cartel.

Live from Pop!Tech

I’m streaming live the entire Pop!Tech 2004 conference today through Saturday (October 21-23). Click here to listen or check out the broadcast schedule. The program just got started, but I think it will be an awesome three days.

Update: Great blog coverage by David Weinberger. You can submit questions via the IT Conversations LiveQuestion system. No guarantee they’ll be answered — you’re competing with the folks in the live audience — but we’ll at least get them to the Pop!Tech crew.