IT Conversations Announcement for February 4, 2004

(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 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
  • 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
  • Vacation.
    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

  • The Gillmor Gang (3.2).
    Steve called in from the Integrated Media Association’s New Media Summit with his special guest, Stephen Hill. The talk was all about the convergence of public radio and new media such as podcasting. That convergence is due to digital technologies and the fact that it’s now possible for nearly anyone to create broadcast-quality audio with a very small investment in equipment. But what about the business models? And if there’s an explosion of content, how will we sort our way through it?
  • Brewster Kahle at Web 2.0 (3.6).
    His goal is no less than “universal access to all knowledge.” It’s possible, but will we do it? The 26 million books in the Library of Congress? In Word format, that’s only about 26 terrabytes, small enough to fit on a single bookshelf. The entire collection could be scanned for only $260 million. Music? Only 2-3 million discs have ever been sold. Movies? Only 100,000-200,000. The question is, “What are we allowed to scan?”
  • Distance Infrastructure Panel at Accelerating Change (3.3).
    Three presentations and a Q&A. Milton Chen of VSee Lab (Visual Communication and Collaboration Software for Afghanistan), Jeremy Bailenson of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (Collaborative Virtual Environments and Transformed Social Interaction) and Dewayne Hendricks, a wireless activist (One Gigabit or Bust Initiative — A Broadband Vision for California.)
  • Scott Ambler – Are You Agile or Are You Fragile? (3.3).
    The software industry is shifting from large-scale, prescriptive processes that mandate rigorous procedures and policies to lighter, more agile methodologies. Are these agile processes appropriate for your organization? If so, which should you consider adopting? What challenges can you expect and how can you overcome them? Another in our special presentations from the SDForum Distinguished Speaker Series.
  • Tech Nation.
    On this week’s Tech Nation, Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with Andy Hertzfeld, the programmer of the Mac Toolbox, and author of “Revolution in the Valley: The Making of the Mac.”

    And in this week’s BioTech Nation segment, Moira speaks with Dr. Patricia Oseweijer, who discusses the difference between genetically modified foods and the technique of genomics.

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, send those email messages to your favorite sponsors, and tell three friends about us. And thanks for listening.

Not-So-Simple Syndication

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 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 ( Let’s just see who replies for now.