Open-Source Audio Production at IT Conversations

I think we’re onto something exciting: You might call it open-source audio production, as there are many similarities to open-source software development.

It began when IT Conversations listeners pressured me into creating a tip jar on the site, which I did a few months ago, and the tips have trickled in steadily ever since. Next, other producers started to submit audio recordings, hoping they’d be published on IT Conversations. Most weren’t good enough due to poor content or audio quality, but some shows like Stowe Boyd’s True Voice and Rob Greenlee’s Web Talk made the cut and have proven to be very popular on the site. Then I put out the word for help on the software-development side — to date, I’ve written all the code myself — and immediately heard from three top-notch programmers that wanted to help.

But it didn’t stop there because I also had audio experts and writers who got in touch and said they wanted to help, too. It finally occurred to me that this is what listener-supported audio is all about. I had added that tag line to the web site when I created the tip jar, but I’ve since learned that among the nearly 80,000 unique IT Conversations listeners each month, there are hundreds who not only enjoy what we’ve done, but are downright passionate about it. In other words, IT Conversations has become a community of people whose lives it has affected.

Today I’m proud to announce a major change here at IT Conversations. After nearly two years of doing everything myself, I’m now getting help from a team of experts from amont the community of IT Conversations listeners. In addition to the hosts you already know (Halley, Dave, Moira, Denise, Ernest, Stowe, Rob, Phil and Scott), we’ve got a team of three developers and 11 producers (audio engineers and writer/editors) who are just now ramping up and learning how to work together to improve IT Conversations and bring you even more great content.

I’ve published the list of the Team ITC members — they’re from such exotic places as Ireland, India and Kentucky — and over time you’ll be able to learn more about them, what they do in their real lives, and so forth.

But you can do more than just check them out…

Starting today (April 1, 2005) 100% of the donations to the tip jar will go to Team ITC. This is what I think a listener-supported service is all about: people’s passions. Team ITC cares enough about IT Conversations that they want to give some of their time, skills and reputations to make it even better. And if you’re just as passionate about IT Conversations, you can say “thank you” to Team ITC by putting your money where your ears are.

None of us are in this to make a lot of money. We’re in it because we believe in the mission of bringing great programs to tens of thousands of people around the world for free. I think we have a real business model here. It’s not one that a Harvard Business School MBA would appreciate, and none of us will be able to quit our day jobs anytime soon — wait, this *is* my day job! — but I think it will work. I believe that we’re creating enough value that our community will pay enough to support a small team of developers and producers contributing
their skills part time.

Think of how the great open-source projects like Apache were built. Apache didn’t begin with an infusion of cash. It was started and has grown due to the passions of some very talented people who want to make the world a better place by doing what turns them on for an audience of their peers. That’s what a community is all about.

So please donate to Team ITC to keep the audio flowing.

Note: If you’re wondering about the IT Conversations hosts, they’re going to receive portions of the sponsorship revenues, which begin officially today as well. The tip-jar funds will go only to the team of developers, engineers and writer/editors.

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