Clambake Episode for August 19, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for August 19, 2005.

This episode is all about Jonathan Coulton featuring an interview with him plus a boatload of his music. Enjoy!

This is the first episode with the new Behringer UB802 mixer. My voice is muddled at the beginning, I didn’t notice that the EQ settings were funky until the middle of the show. Also, the music bed might have been too high at points. Sorry, Jonathan, for experimenting with new equipment on your show.

This episode is sponsored in part by the fine folks at iPod Observer! Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

PlayPlay

Pulling Rank

The Feedster 500 fun continues. I guess that I must have mistyped in the search box when I was looking for myself in the list the other day, because I thought I wasn’t in it but actually I am, #368. That delights me because now I can say, without any possibility of sour grapes and as a member of that group, I think the list is stupid. Finally, I get to criticize this line of thinking from actually within the group. Right on!

Scott Rafer left me a comment on the previous post, suggesting that the list is good as a gateway to let those who don’t know where to start in the blogosphere to get going and to find things of interest to them. I have to say I’m not sure I buy that. It seems actually less likely to get to a specific weblog of niche interest from the Feedster 500 than from randomly surfing webpages related to that interest. By definition, this list is of most general appeal and farthest away from that sort of thing on average. I suppose you could luck up and find what you are looking for as the top post on Boing Boing, but the smart money wouldn’t bet that way, and that can’t work for everyone simultaneously.

The killer commentary on why this list is silly was provided by Chris “Long Tail” Anderson, who attacks it less from whether this is a line of thinking worth pursuing as I did, but from whether it is effective for what it is trying to do:

These lists are, in other words, a semi-random collection of totally disparate things.

To use an analogy, top-blog lists are akin to saying that the bestsellers in the supermarket today were:

  1. DairyFresh 2% Vitamin D Milk
  2. Hayseed Farms mixed grain Bread
  3. Bananas, assorted bunches
  4. Crunchios cereal, large size
  5. DietWhoopsy, 12-pack, cans
  6. and so on…

Which is pointless. Nobody cares if bananas outsell soft drinks. What they care about is which soft drink outsells which other soft drink. Lists only make sense in context, comparing like with like within a category.

and later

My take: this is another reminder that you have to treat niches as niches.
When you look at a wildly diverse three-dimensional marketplace through
a one-dimensional lens, you get nonsense. It’s a list, but it’s a list
without meaning. What matters in the rankings within a genre (or subgenre), not across genres.

My thinking remains unchanged so far. I think the Feedster 500 is pointless and that line of thinking is inapplicable for new media. Until we get beyond this obsession with the numbers, we will never fully tap the potential of the new part of new media.

Smelling Rank

Oh look, now Feedster has a top X list. Yawn. That’s what the blogosphere needs, more ordinal rankings. It’s all about knowing where you are on the pecking order and who you are higher than. It’s all about re-instituting points of centralization in this decentralized world and making sure you know where you stand. It’s not about self-expression and new voices, it is about building brands and creating blockbusters and being “hot”.

People may think it is cute to put those “Feedster 500” badges on their site, but everytime I see one I just feel disappointed.

Audible Domino Falls

I read Doc Searls’ commentary about the news that NPR will not be renewing their contract with Audible. This line of thinking kind of fits in with what Doug Kaye as saying about the future of public radio. As Doc points out, the weird thing about this new world order is the “channel conflict”, where NPR or PRI is on one hand distributing the shows via the stations and also via podcast. Here’s my proposal for avoiding that weirdness (a little disorganized as I’m writing it in a big rush).

NPR and PRI should not podcast their shows. Instead, they should adjust their contract to allow any station that airs the program to podcast the shows if they so desire and to archive any episodes as long as they want, as long as the carriage contract remains paid up. This way, NPR is never competing with the individual stations for the attentions of the listeners. If an individual station wants to be a badass, pony up for lots of storage and bandwidth and maintain serious archives and do serious podcasting, they are contractually allowed to do that. If they want to use their podcast feed as a venue for underwriting and/or getting membership pledges, more power to them. Much like the way many stations precede their streams with announcements about how you can support the station, put those in the podcast. Use this as a resource. Let the stations serve as a decentralized, loosely affiliated set of podcast feeds for the same shows they air.

In this scenario, there is no channel conflict. NPR and PRI don’t have to have big enough iron to serve the whole world, just a directory of stations that podcast the shows. The stations get to keep their relationship with the listeners and use this as another mechanism to serve their constituents. Any underwriting inside the programming (national or local) gets propagated that much further. If they are smart, they would use the podcast feeds of the national shows to help promote feeds of their locally produced programming. Because of the time-shifted nature and the fact that everyone doesn’t need to connect at the same time, the station can server orders of magnitudes more listeners via podcast than streaming with the same resources (because the load can be shifted to off-peak times instead of simultaneously during the program). Everyone wins in a variety of ways, up and down the chain. No one is turning off the transmitters, so this is not a “death of radio” situation but the opposite, an “expansion of radio”.

I already capture the streams from a number of radio stations, including the local Cajun and Zyedeco programming from KRVS FM in Lafayette LA, and if they were to podcast those shows, I’d switch over to the feed in a heartbeat. Currently, if my cable modem is out during the show, I miss it. In a podcast world, if I can’t download it gets retried and I still get to hear the show. There’s another win. Unlike Doug’s scenario where podcasting eliminates the need for the stations, in my scenario podcasting is just another way the stations get the programming to their members. Cool stuff to think about, no?

The Sidebar Ads: A Race between the Tortoise and the Other Tortoise

Halfway through the month-long experiment comparing AdBrite and Google ads, they are nearly tied. Only a few cents separate the two. The downside is that both are pathetic thus far. I did go in and reduce the price of a direct ad on AdBrite to account for the fact that it will only be up approximately half the time. For $2/day, you can have your ad in the sidebar. Just click the “Your Ad Here” link and you go straight through to purchase. If anyone actually does this, this will probably tilt the scales to AdBrite. That is what I like about their system, that someone can place an ad specifically on this page if they so desire.

Insight Strikes Late

Yesterday I had a phone call with Doc Searls (about which he blogs) and while I was giving him some technical podcasting support, at one point we were talking about iTunes as a podcatcher. He was talking about not getting episodes that way for a long time, and I realized something simple. All this time I’ve been pissed off at Apple for screwing up the rollout, I had a stopgap available to me. I added an URL rewriting rule to my Apache setup and now any attempt to fetch the default (Bittorrent) feed by something with a User-Agent that begins with “iTunes” will get the MP3 feed instead. Completely fricking simple and suddenly, it should all work again for everyone, even the ones subscribed to the default feed.

It sucks that I have to do something kludgy like this, but at least folks will not find their subscription to my feed silently fail anymore.

Clambake Episode for August 13, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for August 13, 2005.

I talk about life in Conway SC, about not getting enough exercise and being too fat; I play a song from the Butthole Surfers; I talk about how doing informal interviews helps my formal ones; we are approaching the one year anniversary of this show; I do my impression of Mike Vizard; I play an excerpt from JD Lassica’s interview with Halley Suitt; I play a song by Casper and the Cookies; I still need photos of your faces; goodbye.

I screwed up the impression of Mike Vizard – that second “what was the point of the whole exercise” is supposed to be “where is the business model in that?”

This episode is sponsored in part by the fine folks at iPod Observer! Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

PlayPlay

Eyedrum Podcast

My friend and WREK cohort Chris emailed me about his new project. He has been a volunteer at the Atlanta art gallery/ performance space Eyedrum for a while. Once a month on WREK he hosts a Sunday Special that features songs from performances at the joint. Now he has set up a podcast for those shows. Cool, no? This is yet another semi-official podcast feed for WREK, on top of the ones I set up. It’s not exactly “if you build it they will come” but more like “if you build it, they will build it too.”

Inexplicable

The tide seems to have turned in the spam subjects that I get. I used to get a lot about increasing frequency, duration and turgidity of erections. Now, they are about increasing the amount, distance and muzzle velocity of my ejaculate. Seriously, is there a man on the planet that finds this particularly desirable and is willing to pay money for a product to make this happen? One assumes that someone must be buying or they’d stop paying spammers to send these out, but the thought of anyone paying money to improve their semen launch disturbs and confuses me. Is there a class of naughty circus act of which I am unaware?

What Happened to the Myrtle Beach Blogging Conference?

Last November, when I came home from Bloggercon in Palo Alto imbued with the holy fire of citizen media I floated the idea of doing a blog conference here in the Grand Strand. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I got a lot of feedback from people who said they would attend. In fact, I got so much that it frightened me. I was really wondering if I would get more than a dozen or so and if we’d need serious meeting space. Once we crossed the threshold of 50 people saying they’d come, from places like New Jersey and Denver and Seattle I started getting really nervous. If it was going to be that big of a deal, I didn’t want to do it half-assed. All of this happened around Thanksgiving last year, which then meant it was the holiday season and life got in the way.

Early this year I did some of the research about booking space and getting hotel deals, weighing the pros and cons of doing it at a college vs not and that sort of thing. The whole idea of doing this here turns on the idea of doing it outside of the tourist season, when hotels and amenities are much cheaper. Ideally, I wanted to do it late enough in the year people could make use of the beach while being early enough to be out of tourist season rates. That suggested the April timeframe, but because of professional commitments I was tied up in late April and the 6 weeks before. That meant I couldn’t really organize things before and then had a very narrow window afterwards to get it in before Bike Week and other events made it unwise to hold the conference. Ultimately, the timing just made it impossible to do.

Now I am thinking again about organizing such a thing but I have similar issues. The main thing keeping me from getting serious is that this year there are several conferences in this general area, which reduces the fire for me to set one up. I’ll be attending Converge South (Greensboro, NC) in October and the Podcast and Portable Media Expo (Ontario, California) in November and will probably attend Podcastercon (Chapel Hill, NC) in January. Now for me personally, I have to ask the question if after going to 3 different conferences on this general topic between October and January, will I have it in me to organize another one 2 or 3 months later? Is it even necessary? Any feedback is highly appreciated.

iTunes Podcasting Screws Up Yet Another Simple Thing

In my most recent podcast, I cautioned against putting too much credence in iTunes rankings. Turns out that was a good call because those numbers are meaningless and easily manipulated. Let’s take this a step further and quit caring so much about these fricking meaningless ordinal rankings. None of them can measure the only aspect in the whole deal that really matters, which is how much your audience of whatever size is digging you.

Let me state now that I am completely uninterested in my ranking in any list of any kind, no matter what the methodology used to gather it. I had a period where I did care because it felt like injustice when I started dropping down the Podcast Alley rankings to shows that had a fraction of my listenership and a fraction of my affinity (or at least it felt like that, I have no real way of knowing). I don’t care about getting votes for awards, I don’t care about rankings, I don’t give a shit about being the top of any heap. What I care about is that when you spend 30 or 45 minutes listening to me that you feel your time wasn’t wasted.

What I’m ultimately asking for is not a better ranking system or a less gameable system, I’m asking everyone to think beyond the Nielsen-style big media ranking systems and stop caring about these nonsensical lists. It doesn’t matter what most people listen to, it matters what you listen to.

Clambake Episode for August 7, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for August 7, 2005.

I play this week’s installment of the Rocket City Riot interview and song; I play a song by DQE; I talk about our new sponsor, iPod Observer; I talk a little about the reactions to the God podcast; I play a Siderunners song; I discuss the way pundits talk about what podcasting needs to be a “success”; later gators.

This episode is sponsored in part by the fine folks at iPod Observer! Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

PlayPlay

Clambake Episode for August 5, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for August 5, 2005.

I play a song by Bullet Called Life and talk about them thanking me for playing them; I talk about the punditosphere as represented on IT Conversations; I play a bit from the “X-Rated Hour of Slack”; I play a bluesy song by Michelle Malone and boogie.

Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

PlayPlay

Why I Live in Conway, Part 51

Yesterday afternoon, my doorbell rang. Several of the neighbor girls brought me a bag with some french toast and bacon wrapped up in wax paper, and a little tub of syrup. Their reasoning was “in case I wanted to have it for breakfast tomorrow.” They left my house and headed for the neighbors next door, distributing breakfast around our circle.

Not long ago, I did eat it and it was good. I live in a place where the kids get a wild hair and decide to cook breakfast for the neighborhood. Right on!

2.0

In a weird coincidence, just this morning I was thinking about how annoying the “any frigging thing 2.0” nomenclature has become. Web 2.0, Life 2.0, My Left Butt Cheek 2.0, it has all become tiresome. Here is Tim Bray talking about the same subject. He seems to be approaching it more from the perspective of whether or not it is technically correct, whereas my problem is that it is cliched and bores me. I listened to a bunch of older IT Conversations shows last night while doing a menial repetitive task, and must have heard the term “Web 2.0” 25 times in 90 minutes. From now on, I am referring to “Web 2.6”. I snuck out a few maintenance releases while y’all weren’t looking.