(The following letter was sent to all members of The Conversations Network earlier today, Sunday, August 16, 2012.)
Hello, Members of The Conversations Network!
It’s been a long time since I’ve sent out a Newsletter, but we’ve been working behind the scenes on some important changes here at The Conversations Network. We’ve been discussing these plans for the past two months with our Board of Directors, Executive Producers and Senior Managers. Channel-by-channel and site-by-site, here’s what we’re going to do.
- Social Innovations Conversations will continue at the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. All existing programs will be migrated to CSI’s website, which is where all new episodes will appear.
- CHI Conversations will return to its original home on the BayCHI web site.
- IT Conversations production of new programs will cease around December 1.
- SpokenWord.org will be shut down around December 1.
The remaining assets of the Conversations Network (cash and intellectual property) will be acquired by the Internet Archive, another U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All existing programs will be moved to the Internet Archive where the world will be able to continue to listen to them for free.
Trying to anticipate some of the questions you may have:
- We hope to preserve all existing URLs by running a “redirection server” for many years if not permanently.
- We will stop accepting new and renewal membership dues and donations within 48 hours.
- All monthly subscriptions will be canceled via PayPal within the next 48 hours.
- Dues and donations already received will be used to help preserve the content (audio files and webpages) we’ve published over the past 9+ years.
So why are we doing this? A bit of history will help explain.
Our flagship channel, IT Conversations, was the second podcast ever published and today is still the longest running of all podcasts. In The Conversations Network’s nearly ten years we’ve published more than 3,300 programs on our three primary channels.
When we started this project, no one else was publishing free audio from conferences or other events. We were the first to stream live tech-conference audio and the first to offer recordings of conference sessions as free podcasts.
We created the Levelator software to standardize audio levels. It’s now in common use by podcasters and broadcasters worldwide and has been downloaded more than 350,000 times.
SpokenWord.org, our a metadata/search site for all audio and video recordings of spoken-word content, has cataloged more than 1.5 million audio and video programs.
Most significantly, we pioneered the concept of a worldwide distributed team of part-time (essentially volunteer) writers, audio engineers and producers to publish broadcast-quality programs. Since 2003, 215 people in all corners of the planet have been members of TeamITC. They are the real force behind what you see and hear on The Conversations Network.
And we’ve done it all on a shoestring budget thanks to our contributing members, content providers, underwriters and Limelight Networks, our long-time content-delivery partner.
We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished. Much of what we’ve pioneered in the past ten years is now commonplace. Our goal was to make it easy for others to produce audio recordings of events and make them available to the world for free. That’s now the norm. We have succeeded.
We’ve helped event producers and podcasters to create and publish programs themselves, and increasingly that’s what they’re doing. There simply isn’t as great a need for a service like The Conversations Network. So we’ve decided to complete our mission by helping our remaining partners continue their podcasts on their own websites.
If you have any questions about these changes, feel free to reply publicly or privately. The best place for your public comments is here on my personal blog.
Thanks again for listening and for your support of The Conversations Network.