I’m a TWiG

Not that I could ever fill his shoes, but it was my privilege to cover for co-host Jeff Jarvis on Leo Laporte’s new show, This Week in Google.  I was clearly out-geeked by co-host Gina Trapani and first-time TWiT guest Mary Hodder. Lucky for me, I was on an audio-only ISDN connection to Leo’s studio, so my mug didn’t appear on the live video stream during the taping.

The APIs are Here!

It may not be as exciting as when Steve Martin discovered “The new phone books are here!” in the 1979 Carl Reiner film The Jerk, but we are starting to roll out full APIs for SpokenWord.org. It’s a RESTful interface and the first flavor of response formats is JSON, so it should be easy to use from any programming language. (We plan to off XML responses as an option if enough developers complain about JSON.)

If you’ve used the Twitter APIs, you’ll see that we modeled ours after theirs in many ways. We also took the idea of a Remote Key for authentication from FriendFeed. (OAuth is coming soon.) The initial methods allow you to set and get ratings of programs, feeds and collections and to retrieve extended metadata about individual programs. We’ll be publishing new methods very quickly, but we’re anxious to get feedback from developers before we go too far. The full API documentation is available online. If you have comments, questions, suggestions or bug reports about the new APIs, post them to our API Forum or join our API Mailing List.

A special Thanks goes out to all of those who have participated on that list to help us design a set of APIs that people will actually use.

SpokenWord.org Town Hall Conference Call

Interested in what’s coming from SpokenWord.org? Want to participate in the discussion? Join us for a conference call on Thursday:

August 27, 2009
Noon Pacific Daylight Time
Phone Number: +1.724.444.7444
Call ID: 18232

It’s best to access via the TalkShoe web site if you want to speak or ask questions: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/18232

Our agenda will include:

  • new-feature planning
  • APIs
  • traffic-building activities

I hope you can join us on Thursday. If not, we’ll be making an MP3 recording available. Of course. Can’t make it? Email your questions or agenda items in advance: doug@conversationsnetwork.org

Google Acquires On2

This isn’t an acquisition that’s likely to get a lot of initial attention, but I think it will prove to be a very important deal: Google Acquires Video Compression Technology Company On2 For $106 Million. On2’s codecs are some of the very best and the company has managed to get them embedded into a lot of products. I think this is the first time Google has actually owned codecs. Since they’ll now own some of the best codecs and control the most important platform where they’re used (YouTube), there’s great potential for both innovation and abuse. Keep your eye on this one.

The Book Oven

Hugh McGuire and I have met only once, but we immediately recognized in each other similar ambitions, motivations and values. While I was building The Conversations Network, Hugh was doing the same for Librivox. (Thanks to Jon Udell for introducing us.) And for the past year, as I was working on SpokenWord.org (with Hugh’s help as an advisor) he was creating an excellent new site: the Book Oven.

If you’re involved in any aspect of publishing (as a writer, editor, proofreader, small publisher, designer or agent) you need to check this out. After successfully publishing more than 2,500 audiobooks on LibriVox, Hugh refers to the new project as “cloud-based publishing.” Crowdsourcing itself isn’t new, but the Book Oven promises to apply crowdsourcing to all aspects of publishing. The first component is called Bit-Sized Edits: sort of a mesh of Nathan McFarland’s CastingWords (based on Amazon’s Mechanican Turk) and the reCAPTCHA project.

As Hugh admits, the Book Oven is just getting started, but there’s already enough there to make it worth your time to visit and get involved. If you’re in the publishing world, you’ll want to be part of the Book Oven from the beginning.