In response to my post a few days ago about my Creative Commons Dilemma, Denise Howell pointed out a CC license I had somehow missed. It’s a license designed specifically to permit sampling. The version I am considering reads (in its summary form):
You are free:
- To sample, mash-up, or otherwise creatively transform this work for commercial or noncommercial purposes.
Under the following conditions:
- You must give the original author credit
- You may not use this work to advertise for or promote anything but the work you create from it.
- For any reuse, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.
- You may not perform, display, or distribute copies of this whole work for any purpose.
The formal version is here.
As Denise pointed out, there may be a loophole or two for my purposes, but living with those loopholes might be outweighed by the benefits of remaining within the Creative Commons umbrella.
Scott Kirsner wrote a good article on podcasting that appears in the business section of today’s Boston Globe and mentions IT Conversations.
Doug Kaye operates one of the best podcasting sites, ITConversations.com, which collects interviews and panel discussions with big thinkers like Harvard Business School’s Clay Christensen, Amazon.com chief executive Jeff Bezos, and author Malcolm Gladwell. Last year, Kaye put up an electronic ”tip jar” on the site, which so far has collected donations of $10 or $20 from about 130 listeners. He works about 70 hours a week on the site. ”ITConversations is my labor of love, but it’s also my full-time gig,” Kaye writes by e-mail. ”Most other people don’t have that luxury – to be able to devote themselves full time to podcasting.” Kaye estimates that his Internet bandwidth would cost about $5,000 a month — if it weren’t donated to him by a site sponsor.
My wife says, “70 hours? That would be only ten hours per day every day! It’s got to be more than that.”
[Meta: Rather than a single post the size of a small phone book, this week I’ve blogged items separately with links here.]
(Hear the MP3.)
With all the recent mainstream press coverage of podcasting, barely a few days go by that I don’t get yet another offer to distribute IT Conversations’ programs. A few of the proposals make sense, but most of them do not. Maybe I’m missing the point, but here’s how I see it.
Distribution of a podcast (or whatever you choose to label IT Conversations) isn’t like distribution via broadcast radio, for example. When you pickup a new radio station outlet, you add listeners in a geographical area that you couldn’t previously reach. That’s the way you expand your listenership in radio, and thanks to Arbitron you can report that increased coverage to advertisers or underwriters. But there’s no Arbitron for podcasts (yet), so just having your MP3s delivered by another web site adds no value, again — at least that’s how I see it.
When I evaluate a distribution opportunity, based on today’s state of the Internet and podcasting, I want one of two things: either (1) distribute the content for free and report back on the number of listeners, or (2) charge for the content and share the revenues. The former can be converted to revenues in that I can add those stats to my own when I report to underwritiers.
But if you just distribute the shows for free without reporting back to me, or if you charge for the content and don’t share those revenues with me, I don’t see any reason to release the shows via your channel. At least that’s how I see it.
I love Creative Commons. I love its goals, its implementation and its simplicity. From the moment I first learned of it, I decided to grant a Creative Commons license for IT Conversations programs. Now, however, I find myself having to reconsider that decision. Here’s the problem…
In my quest to fund IT Conversations and at the same time keep the content free for all listeners, I need corporate sponsors and underwriters to help pay the expenses. (Those tip-jar donations are great, but they’ll likely never be enough on their own.) Advertisers need to know what they’re getting for their money. They need to know how many people are hearing their promotional announcements, and for that reason I need statistics: counts of the number of listeners.
I’m happy when anyone links to IT Conversations recordings, and I want everyone to be able to hear them. All I ask is that I be able to count those listens so I can report them to advertisers. But if you copy an IT Conversations recording and host it on your own web site (as currently allowed by our Creative Commons license), we won’t be able to include your listener counts in our totals.
But what’s the point of copying and re-hosting IT Conversations shows anyway? Why would someone want or need to do that? You don’t let others just copy and re-host your complete web pages; you want readers to come to your site to read what you’ve written. Google page ranks and all that. It’s no different with audio programming. So long as the shows are available on our site via a permanent URL, what’s to be gained by offering the same files at a second URL? One could even argue that it’s bad design (in the global sense) to have two permalinks for the same object.
So is there any reason I shouldn’t replace the CC license with one that doesn’t allow for copying the files to another server? I look forward to your feedback and recommendations, but don’t forget that fundamental need to keep the site alive by attracting sponsors.
An IT Conversations user reports that he can’t stream to his PocketPC. Is anyone else either successful or unsuccessful trying this?
(Hear the MP3 version)
- Back from Vacation.
I’m finally back from a terrific vacation and trying desperately to catch up with email and other chores. I hope you enjoyed the programs I was able to prepare in advance and launch each day while I was gone.
- The Great IT Conversations Button Contest.
A number of listeners sent in images for the contest, and I’ve posted the best of them. If you’d like to tell others about IT Conversations, please visit that page and copy a button to your own website or blog.
Thanks to your votes, last week IT Conversations jumped again from #7 to #4 on PodcastAlley.com. It may seem trivial, but in these early days of podcasting, PodcastAlley.com is one of the few independent sources of comparative data, and our rating there is already helping attract sponsors and underwriters.
- The Gillmor Gang — Still on Hiatus.
Once again we didn’t have a chance to put together a new edition of The Gillmor Gang this past week, but I hope we’ll be able to round up The Gang for another show as soon as possible.
- The Future of AAC/M4B Files.
I want to alert IT Conversations listeners to a possible future change — one that I know won’t be particularly popular among iPod users. Last year I started encoding files in AAC (.m4b) format in addition to MP3. The primary advantage is that on Apple iPods (and only on iPods) you can pause an AAC file, listen to another, and when you return to the first one, you continue at the point you left off. This really ought to work for all file types on all players, but that isn’t the case.
I spent many hours trying to find an encoder that would create the proper files on my Linux-based content-management system, but the only solution I could find turned out to be a very manual operation using iTunes on a Mac or PC.
I’m currently working on the further automation of the IT Conversations web site, and it appears that I may have to eliminate this manual operation. So unless I can find a Linux-based encoder that creates iPod-compatible AAC files, I may have to eliminate the AAC option and deliver only MP3 files.
The good news is that many of the podcatching clients such as Doppler and iPodderX can automatically convert downloaded files to AAC at the receiving end.
New Programs from the Past Two Weeks
Greatest Hits from the Archives
Amd finally, here’s one of my personal favorite programs from the IT Conversations archives:
- Malcolm Gladwell: Human Nature (4.2).
If you like this week’s interview of Malcolm Gladwell by Moira Gunn, make sure you listen to a presentation he gave last year at the Pop!Tech 2004 conference. It’s one of the most popular and highly rated programs on IT Conversations.
Malcolm explores why we can’t trust people’s opinions — because we don’t have the language to express our feelings. His examples include the story of New Coke and how Coke’s market research misled them, and the development of Herman-Miller’s Aeron chair, the best-selling chair in the history of office chairs, which succeeded in spite of research that suggested it would fail.
There’s a lot of buzz about the updated ASCAP license that addresses podcasting, but be careful! An ASCAP license is only one piece of the puzzle. I first wrote about this six months ago, and I was going to write a detailed update, but Matt May beat me to it.
(Hear the MP3 version.)
- Underwriting Campaign. Last week’s plea to help find underwriters for IT Conversations was quite successful. I’ve received six inquiries and hope to turn one or two of them into real sponsors in the weeks to come. But my goal is for three full-fledged underwriters, so keep pinging that gray matter of yours, and when the perfect-fit underwriter comes to mind, either tell them or tell me.
- The Great IT Conversations Button Contest.
You know those little buttons that people put on their web sites or blogs to highlight affiliations they have with things like Apache, Linux or PHP? A listener pointed out that we don’t have a button like that and she wanted a way to tell the world how much she loves IT Conversations. She’s right — we need a button. Being visually challenged as I am, and due to the wealth of talent among our listeners, I hereby announce the opening of The Great IT Conversations Button Contest.
It’s simple: Design and send me a JPEG or GIF button that’s a maximum of 120 pixels wide by 85 pixels high. I’ll select the winner(s) and post them and the runners up along with the names and any URLs submitted by their creators. You can include any graphic or text. Say it in words or say it in graphics, but the idea is something like “I IT Conversations” or “I Listen to IT Conversations.”
- Podcast Alley.
Last week I asked you to visit PodcastAlley.com and cast a vote for IT Conversations with a hope of getting us into the top ten. Well, more than 250 of you did just that, and IT Conversations jumped from #29 all the way up to #7. We don’t need to be any higher than that to get attention, but we do need to continue to get more votes just to keep ourselves there, so if you haven’t already voted and left a comment, please visit PodcastAlley.com.
- Forward to a Friend.
Yes, the tip jar is still open — just look for the Donate button on any IT Conversations web page — but this week I have another non-monetary request. Ever since I stopped sending out daily email announcements, the growth of our traffic has slowed. So this week here’s what you can do to help. Please tell your friends. Just take a moment and send an email message or IM to three people who you think would enjoy IT Conversations and may not know about us yet. If each of you sends three messages, particularly if you send a link to your favorite IT Conversations program, we should see a significant bump in traffic, just as we saw our ranking jump on PodcastAlley.com.
And finally, I just want to let you know that I’ll be taking a vacation for the next two weeks. My wife and I are a bit burned out from all we’ve been doing for the past few months, so we’re taking some time off. But don’t worry — I’ve managed to get two weeks ahead in the production schedule, so you can expect to see and hear roughly one new program each day even while I’m gone. And if you’re sending me email — and please don’t stop; I love it — don’t be surprised if the response comes even more slowly than usual.
New Programs This Week
From the Archives
- Craig Newmark: Craig’s List (3.3).
Craig Newmark doesn’t know this, and I’ve never said it before, but he’s one of my heroes. I can’t think of anyone else who has been as sincerely altruistic and stuck to his principles and vision as successfully as Craig. In building IT Conversations, I often find myself thinking, “What would Craig do?” And it works.
In 1995, he was sending his friends in San Francisco e-mail messages with lists of local events. With their encouragement, this became Craig’s List, which has now expanded to Boston, Seattle, New York and 19 other regions. Nine years later, Craig’s List now gets 500 million page views and 4 million unique visitors every month. The staff numbers 14, and the site runs on about 30 Linux boxes. Craig says his success is based on “a culture of trust.” When I asked about his business model, he just laughed.
That’s it for this week. Remember: Vote for IT Conversations at www.PodcastAlley.com, send those email messages to your favorite sponsors, and tell three friends about us. And thanks for listening.
We’re about to see an explosion in podcast syndication. Not only are the ranks of podcasters growing rapidly, but a number of sites and services that want to aggregate podcasts have appeared with many more to follow shortly. There are already at least three syndication channels through which I’d like to publish IT Conversations content.
The problem is that I’m releasing way too many programs to manually upload files and enter metadata into three or more web sites. It could easily take a few hours every day, and as the number of syndication deals, it just gets worse.
So I think we — the podcasting community — have a chance to create a standard for the syndication of podcasts. I don’t think RSS is the best way to do this because the large aggregators aren’t going to want to be polling all the producers all day long. Better would be something like OPML and the ipodder.org directory for which a publisher creates and XML file and then pings the recipient, asking that the file be retrieved. Either that or a REST-style HTTP POST to accomplish the same thing. Or XML-RPC?
How to pull this off? Perhaps the best starting point would be to try and get the aggregators/syndicators together. If you’re in that category and would like to participate in the discussion, send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org). Let’s just see who replies for now.