An IT Conversations Update

(Here’s the MP3 audio version.)

I want to bring you up-to-date on some of what’s happening here at IT Conversations.

One of my goals has been to create 300 programs in the IT Conversations archives by the end of this year, and when I roll out all the shows currently in the production queue, I’ll be at 291. That means I’ve got seven weeks to produce just nine more shows. That should be pretty easy.

Many new listeners are overwhelmed by the size of the archives and don’t know where to start. It’s easy to pick the latest programs from the home page, but there are scores of great — perhaps even better — programs in the vault that newcomers just can’t find.

Oldtimers know I’ve steadily expanded the breadth of programming on the site. Although I still call it IT Conversations, it’s not just IT for IT professionals any more. In addition to my own interviews and The Gillmor Gang, I’ve added Halley Suitt’s Memory Lane, Dave Slusher’s Voices in Your Head (interviews with SciFi writers and more), and Scott Mace’s new series of interviews entitled, Opening Move. And of course conferences ranging from O’Reilly Emerging Tecnology and OSCON to Supernova, Gnomedex, Bloggercon and Pop!Tech.

Because of this breadth, I recognize that not everyone will want listen to every program. That’s okay. The same is true for TV networks or even NPR.

My first attempt to make it easier to find what you like and ignore the rest was to create separate RSS feeds (podcasts, if you will) for each series. So instead of subscribing to *everything* from IT Conversations — as many as five or six new programs each week — you can just subscribe to your favorite series like The Gillmor Gang or topics like software development or security. If you don’t already know about those options, look for the RSS icons on the main web page for each series listed in the left-side nav bar of any page on the web site such as for The Importance of Law and IT.

The next thing I implemented was a Netflix-style queue so that you can look through the archives or new programs, select what you want to hear, then add them to your Personal Program Queue. Once shows are in your queue, they’ll also appear in your personal RSS feed. It works pretty well, but it requires that you come back to the web site and manually add new shows to the queue. Sort of a pain in the ass, particularly if you just want a podcast.

So I’m working on a new variation of this scheme: personally configurable podcasts. The idea is that as a registered member you’ll have your own RSS feeds, similar to those for your Personal Program Queue, but you’ll be able to tell IT Conversations what should and should not be automatically added to your Podcast. For example, you could tell the system to always add new editions of The Gillmor Gang, but never add my interviews. I’m even experimenting with algorithms such as “Add any program that is related to software development, has been reviewed by at least ten people, and has an average rating of 3 or higher.” You’ll also be able to exclude from your Podcast any programs that you’ve already heard and/or rated yourself.

If you have any suggestions for how you’d like to be able to configure your own IT Conversations podcast, please send them to me at doug@itconversations.com. Of course, comments and suggestions on any other topic are welcome as well.

On a personal note, I’m going to be taking two weeks off. I’m having a bit of surgery on Friday — nothing too serious — but the recovery is supposedly gnarly, so I’ve queued up two weeks’ worth of programs that will launch automatically between now and December 1st. They include the rest of the presentations from Bloggercon III and more of the terrific sessions from Pop!Tech 2004.

And don’t forget the latest edition of Dave Slusher’s Voices in Your Head that we published today, and a new Gillmor Gang on Thursday of this week.

Most of all, thanks for listening to IT Conversations.

5 thoughts on “An IT Conversations Update

  1. Doug, good luck with your surgery and thanks for all the wonderful material! It really makes my drivetime so much better, and I’m learning as a bonus!

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  2. Sounds really great. It was getting a little frustrating as the breadth of IT Converstations grows. Thanks for the tips on how to focus on specific interests. The personalized Podcasting sounds really awesome. Keep the great feeds coming. We’re lisening.

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  3. Good work Doug. I think you’re blazing the trail for a lot of different podcasters who will soon be trying to figure out how to organize and archive all their audio. I know there are a few sites trying to build directories, but in the meantime, organizing our own will be an important task.

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  4. Doug, thankyou so much for your outstanding work on IT Conversations. I’m new to podcasting but already it has revived my days, transforming my 2hr each way commute into valuable time and helping me keep up to date with emerging issues in IT and “technology philosophy”.

    Re: the personally configurable RSS feeds – it would be great if it was possible to add archived files by series, rather than just new podcasts that are published in a series. For example, it’d be great to be able to queue up all of the archived Pop!Tech presentations via one click.

    Also, great to see you are getting solid feedback on the business model – hope that IT Conversations can become self-funding in time.

    Hope all goes well with your operation.

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