Chris Lydon, Yes. But Broadcast? Why?

Today was the first official edition of Christopher Lydon’s new PRI radio program. As Doc, one of today’s guests, suggests:

Then take it the next step, and tell your local public radio station you’d like them to pick up the show.

But therein lies the problem. I don’t care whether my local public-radio station (KQED-FM) carries the show or not. I wouldn’t be likely to listen to it unless I just happened to be in my car at the right time of day. I want the time-shiftable podcast edition. I’ll get it from the ‘Net thank you. In fact, even if I’m in my car when the live show is on, I’m more likely to be listening to an earlier edition through my iPod.

This is exacly why radio — even good radio — is threatened by podcasting.

IT Conversations News: May 29, 2005

While I’m including the audio version as an attachment to this post, I’m no longer going to publish a detailed text version of the weekly IT Conversations News here in my blog. As it is, it takes about four hours to write, record and edit the audio version and to prepare the email edition. I think an additional blog version is redundant.

If you want to get the news via the web, just go to the IT Conversations web site. The most recent two weeks (about 20 programs) are right there on the home page. And if you want to get the news via RSS, just subscribe to one of the many IT Conversations RSS feeds.

More Volunteer Editors Needed

Our collaborative production model here at IT Conversations is working great. In fact, all but one of the programs published during May were produced by Team ITC.

We have enough audio-engineers for the moment, but we could use another two or three copy/photo editors. If you’re interested, take a look at the wiki page. You should be a good writer — spelling and punctuation counnt! — and you should be able to do some simple image editing in Photoshop or some other tool.

The Freesound Project

Based on technology from MTG, the Freesound Project looks like an intriguing source for podcasters and others:

The Freesound Project aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, … released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. The Freesound Project provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to

* browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a “sounds-like” type of browsing and more
* up and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license
* interact with fellow sound-artists!

We also aim to create an open database of sounds that can also be used for scientific research. Many audio research institutions have trouble finding correctly licensed audio to test their algorithms. Many have voiced this problem, but so far there hasn’t been a solution.

Segregated Communities?

It’s always stimulating to spend time with people smarter than yourself, and today at lunch I was at a table with six of them. We talked about many things related to podcasting and community, but I left pondering one question: What are the advantages and disadvatages of developing or encouraging multiple isolated communities as opposed to a single centralized one?

Here’s the context. If a podcast (or any other form of expression) is published via multiple channels, and if each of those channels has its own community of listeners, those listeners will interact in isolation from the other communities formed among the listeners via the other channels. If you receive a podcast from web site A and I receive it from web site B, and each of those sites has their own community tools, you and I won’t be able to exchange ideas. In fact, we may not even know one another exist are are interested in the same topics. If carried to an extreme, there are as many distribution channels as there are listeners and we all end up in communities of one.

OTOH, if we all intereact within a single, larger, centralized community, might that be so large and busy as to be impresonal and no longer valuable? At least in this case, the possibility exists for us to interact, then break off into separate groups.

Just food for thought perhaps.

IT Conversations News: May 21, 2005

(Hear the MP3 version in beautiful monophonic audio.)

New Programs This Week

Listed in increasing order of listener rating. For descriptions, visit the IT Conversations home page.

This week’s Doug’s Favorite from the IT Conversations archives:

We’ll be at Supernova again this year. [San Francisco, June 20-22] Make sure to say Hi if you’ll be there. If you’re on the fence I strongy recommend it. It’s one of the great networking events of the year.

Pledge Week

Here in the U.S. it’s Pledge Week for our public radio and television stations, and whenever that happens it reminds me that it’s time to beg for money to support IT Conversations. Until we can get more of those big-time underwriters on board, I’m paying all the infrastructure costs (hosting, telecom, etc.) and our awesome partner, Limelight Networks, continues to distribute most of our audio through their worldwide content-delivery network (CDN). But in the spirit of listener-supported audio, we depend on donations from you for all the post-production audio and editorial work done by our Team ITC volunteers.

But if they’re volunteers, I hear you say, how come they need money? Good question. At our current production rate of ten shows per week (~45/month) and a two-person crew for each show, no one gets enough $$ to even dream of quitting his or her day job. But it helps. Your donations to our Tip Jar are a way of saying Thank You to Team ITC, and it encourages them to keep producing our shows in their spare time.

So just take a moment to think about how much IT Conversations means to you. Think of the number of hours you listen each month and how valuable those hours are to you. Then think about how much you’d be willing to pay if we had to charge for our content, and give at least a portion of that amount to our Tip Jar. Not only will the members of Team ITC be most grateful, but you’ll be helping us prove that the concept of listener-supported audio really is sustainable.

FYI, we received nearly $2,000 in the Tip Jar in April (our first month for Team ITC), and distributed nearly half of that to the team members. We held off distributing it all because we anticipated a drop-off in contributions after the first month. Perhaps not surprisingly, many Team members turned down the money and asked us to either keep their share in the pool for others or to donate it to a third party. For April, we gave $200 to the EFF and $160 to the Internet Archive. For the forseeable future we won’t use any of the Tip Jar funds for infrastructure, and none of it goes to me.