The Audio/Video Disparity

You can publish, host and distribute video on the web for free at many sites. Even long-format videos. But take away the picture and try to publish just the audio (eg, as a podcast) and you’ll have a much more difficult time finding free hosting. Not that it’s not out there (eg, at Podango, to whom I’m an advisor), but it’s nowhere nearly as common. And whereas there are many fee-based publishing options for audio-only podcasters, almost no one charges to host videos any more except at the high end. Why? I imagine it’s because of (a) the continued buzz surrounding the purchase of YouTube by Google, (b) the current use of player-based branding by the video hosting companies, and (c) long-term potential for advertising in videos.

Note that if you don’t even have audio and just want to host a simple web site, it’s even more likely that you’ll pay.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?(Study the picture first, before reading further.) I was watching Frontline World on PBS tonight and they re-ran a story from May of last year on the Chopin piano competition in Poland. What absolutely drove me crazy was that someone — perhaps the editor — decided that it was okay and for some reason desirable to flip many of the shots horizontally. That might be okay under normal circumstances, but it’s very disconcerting to watch pianists play the low notes on the right and the high notes on the left. And then there are all those shots with pianos that open on the wrong side. As far as I can tell, there’s absolutely no reason why anyone would do this, but someone did. My (musician) son noticed it first in a very subtle shot, but I think I would have noticed eventually as it was extraordinarily blatant. Not just in one shot, but in many throughout the story. This photo is actually from the Frontline World web site. Notice which side the stick is on? (No, it’s not a left-handed piano!) You can watch the video for yourself.

Skype for Interviews – A How-To Video

After years of discouraging the use of Skype for interviews here at The Conversations Network, we’re now saying a resounding Yes! Paul Figgiani and I have prepared this audiovisual presentation that covers all you need to know in order to get true broadcast-quality Skype recordings.

For more info and discussion, visit The Conversations Network’s forums.

The Real-Time Blogosphere

I was talking yesterday with Phil Windley about what we both perceive to be a drop-off of traffic from other blogs as compared to a few years ago. Phil’s thought — and I agree — is that the blogosphere has evolved to become a more real-time world. Twitter, TwitterGram, Facebook’s status updates and similar short-format micro-blogs along with TechMeme, TechCrunch, Valleyway and (of course) Scoble have shifted the emphasis of blogging towards immediate and time-sensitive content. While there was always the concept of a scoop in the blogosphere, it’s now measured in minutes rather than days. I don’t know about you, and I’m not judging it as better or worse, but I find that much of what I read in RSS is now very current and transitory.

This begs the question: What *is* the best way to learn about long shelf-life content such as the programs we produce on The Conversations Network? Most of our traffic used to come in via links from bloggers, but those folks are now focused on more immediate short-term interests. RSS and blogs used to be a major recommendation engine for us, but that’s falling off. We’re trying to understand what’s changed in the online world and what are the best recommendation systems and methods for long-format less immediate content.

Kindle Goes, TimesReader Arrives

I sold my Amazon Kindle on eBay today for $610. Too bad I can’t unload other disappointing gadgets for a profit like that. I’m back to reading books on the Sony PRS-505. Much better ergonomics even if the store, selection, prices and download process are all inferior to the Kindle’s. Fact is, I spend a lot more time reading than downloading anyway. And when you’re stupid enough to pay $300 or more for a gadget, the cost of the books isn’t all that significant.

I still want to dump my hardcopy subscription to the NY Times if I can find a viable alternative, so now I’m trying out the TimesReader per Scott Loftesness‘ recommendation. Like Scott, I’ve got to run it under Parallels on the Mac, but if that doesn’t work out well, I may move on to the Electronic Edition, which uses Flash instead of a local app.

Defective by Design has a good piece entitled the Kindle Swindle, which describes some of the issues surrounding Amazon’s DRM policies. Sony’s aren’t any better. I’m traveling with both my Sony Reader PRS-505 and my Amazon Kindle. Why both? I’ve got some books on the former that I can’t transfer to the latter, and I’m seeing what it’s like to use the latter for reading the New York Times on the go.

Now I’ve finished all the books on the Sony. I can’t buy a new book for it because that requires software that runs only on Windows and I’m traveling with just my trusty old PowerBook G4. And if I buy the book I want using the Kindle via its EVDO connectivity, I can’t transfer the book to the Sony, which is far nicer for holding and page flipping.

The result? Tonight I stopped by the local Barnes and Noble and bought a paperback book for tomorrow’s flight home. And when I’m done, I can give it to a friend. And I’ve decided to go back to subscribing to the hardcopy NY Times when I’m home, and just not reading it — or perhaps trying to read it via the web — when I’m on the road. And I think I’ll sell the Kindle on eBay. I saved all the packaging.

Future Talks: It’s a Wrap

I just published the final episode of the Future Talks series with Gerd Leonhard and Glen Hiemstra on our new channel.

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Special thanks to Paul Figgiani, our senior audio and video engineer. Also to Joel Tscherne and Steven Ng.