A Great New Feedback Widget

Two weeks ago we posted a simple survey asking for your input on new directions for SpokenWord.org. This week we’ve gone a big step further and given you direct access to our to-do list. Not only can you vote for ideas already on the list, but you can also add your own. (And we take those votes seriously.)

Look for the new red “feedback” button on the left edge of every SpokenWord.org page. From there you can go to the Feedback Forum (the to-do list) or report a bug.

OK, so many of you did this just two week ago, but this is a better opportunity to see what we’re thinking and to express your opinions in far more detail. Thanks to UserVoice for this great new service.

Shortcut to the Feedback Forum

Bogus Patent Issued for Podcasting

I guess the people at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office haven’t figured out how to use The Google for research into prior art. Read Write Web reports that VoloMedia has been issued a U.S. patent for podcasting based on an application filed in November 2003. Where the heck did that come from?

In September 2003 Dave Winer created what I consider to be the first podcast, an RSS feed with enclosures for Chris Lydon’s interviews. On September 24, 2003 I created what I believe was the second podcast, IT Conversation and announced it on my blog. Regardless of who you think invented podcasting, it certainly occurred in September 2003 at the latest.

See also: Dave Winer’s blog and Wikipedia. (Disclaimer: I contributed to the History of Podcasting article on Wikipedia.)

Update July 30, 2009: Today someone added and then someone else removed information about the patent application and award from Wikipedia’s History of Podcasting page. I may not like the patent, but I see no reason to remove the facts from the article.

More ID Partners for SpokenWord.org

Thanks to a terrific service called RPX from JanRain, I’ve rewritten all of the code on SpokenWord.org for third-party identity providers. In addition to OpenID and Facebook, you can now use the following to login to the site: Google, Yahoo!, WordPress, Windows Live, Blogger, Flickr, AOL and Live Journal. Whereas I previously spent many days (each) to implement raw OpenID and Facebook Connect, getting the basic mechanism of RPX up and running takes only about two hours. And most of that is just waiting for a CNAME to appear in DNS. When you’re done, you instantly have access to a whole slew of third-party ID providers. I did spend a few more days to write about 800 lines of code — yeah, most of it was re-purposed — to fully integrate RPX into our existing identity system. But that’s only required if you need to allow users to link to their existing logins and you don’t want to use JanRain’s simplified identity-mapping service. And now, as JanRain adds more features and identity providers to RPX, we get them with no development/integration effort at all.

Shoutout to Limelight Networks

I was doing some bookkeeping this evening and was thinking back over the 6+ years since I started IT Conversations. Balancing the bank account reminded me of how much we’ve been able to do with so little money. There are many individuals and corporate partners/underwriters who help us bring The Conversations Network to you for free. But there’s probably none that has been as important to our success as Limelight Networks, our content-delivery network (CDN). If you’ve streamed or downloaded any audio or video file from The Conversations Network in the past five years, it was delivered by Limelight. And since our relationship began in February of 2004 — that’s a whole lot of terabytes ago — we’ve never had a single complaint about performance, reliability or availability of our media files. Oh, and 48% of our visitors are from outside of the U.S. Pretty impressive.

So I’d like to extend a very special Thank You to Limelight Networks for their continued support of IT Conversations and the rest of The Conversations Network. We absolutely couldn’t be doing this without them.

BTW, if you’re wondering why I’m posting this seemingly over-the-top Thanks, it’s because I mean it. It’s entirely unsolicited. Limelight Networks has been awesome, and I hope you’ll consider them for your own content-delivery needs.

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

If you’re at least 50 years old, you probably remember quite well where you were the day that men first walked on the moon. It was an exciting and yet surreal moment. I was working that summer in San Diego, but it was a Sunday so like so many Americans I was glued to the television. After Neil Armstrong stepped off the lunar lander, I walked outside, looked up at the moon (clearly visible mid-day) and just shook my head in near disbelief. Truly amazing. I called my then-girlfriend, Cessna (now my wife of 38 years) in Kansas to compare notes. She was awed as well.

Why San Diego? I was hired by Jan Popper as a production stage manager at what was then known as San Diego International University. I spent most of my summer there directing opera workshop productions and teaching acting to foreign opera students. That was almost as surreal as men walking on the moon.

More Facebook Integration for SpokenWord.org

I’ve added a new feature to SpokenWord.org for Facebook users. When you submit a program to our database or you add a program to one of your SpokenWord.org collections, you’ll be given the chance to post it to your Feed (Wall) on Facebook. Note that this only works if you’ve previously logged into our site using your Facebook ID and your’e currently logged into Facebook.

CHI Conversations Launches

CHI Conversations is a new channel from The Conversations Network, the home if IT Conversations. “CHI” refers to Computer-Human Interfaces and this new channel initially features programs produced by BayCHI, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of ACM’s SIGCHI. BayCHI has been recording the speakers at their monthly Silicon Valley meetings for many years, but those programs (many with extraordinary presentations by some of the great technologists of our times) have gone unheard by the general public until now.

Those recordings would have been lost forever if it weren’t for the efforts of BayCHI’s Steven Williams, backed by the support of BayCHI’s membership and Board of Directors. Steve has single-handedly pulled together all of the bits and pieces it takes to create a new channel on The Conversations Network. It has taken nearly a year of Steve’s efforts to get to this launch, and we’re indebted to him for his perseverance. Steve is now serving as Executive Producer of CHI Conversations.

Along with the members of TeamITC including new volunteers from BayCHI, Steve plans to publish their new monthly programs as well as work their way through the archives of past-year’s recordings at the rate of two or three programs each week.

Collection Limits for SpokenWord.org

Because SpokenWord.org collections can subscribe to feeds and even follow other collections, they can grow to a size that is unmanageable. We’ve therefore added three ways in which you can keep your collections under control.

  1. Limit the number of programs.
  2. Limit the age of programs.
  3. Limit the size of a collections RSS feed.

On your collection’s page, click the Info link under “Edit This Collection”.

1. “Remove oldest programs when there are more than [count] or [age].” The default value for [count] is 1,000, the maximum number of programs any collection can contain. If you want to keep your collection smaller, select another value: 10, 25, 100 or 250. As you add new programs, earlier-added programs will be removed in order to maintain the maximum size you specify.

2. Likewise [age] tells us how long to keep programs from the date you collect them. The default is never to delete them (by age), but you can change this to automatically remove programs that have been in your collection for more than one week, one month or one year.

3. “Most-recent programs to include in RSS feed: [count].” By default, we’ll include up to 100 programs from your collection in its RSS feed. But you can use this option to change that value to 10, 25, 50, 100, 250 or “all”.

Note: Although you can set all of these values now, only #3 (RSS limits) is operational. We won’t turn on #1 and #2 until at least Wednesday morning (July 15) at 9am Pacific time to allow you time to modify your collections that may be affected by the change.