Podcast Queue Update

As of March 23 2011, here is where my podcast queue stands. I’m still working off the long baby listening layoff. I’m at a cool 10 week, 70 day backlog. Right now I’m listening to Good Clean Fun from January 12th. My trusty script that tells me the playtime of my queue just blipped under 16 days worth of listening time. That’s 16 days of 24 hour listening, my friends. That’s a lot of citizen media, friends.

I do get impatient lately in a way I never did when the queue was short. Multiple shows were skipped because some minor things bothered me. On this Web 2.0 session where Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle were interviewing Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the very first question was something like “What about this Google Phone that is coming out?” to which Schmidt replied “Google doesn’t make hardware.” My immediate reaction was “Oh boy, all I need is to listen to Google’s CEO be a weirdly precious and disingenuous douchebag. I’d rather spend this hour listening to anything else.”

I’ve been skipping a lot of SModcast episodes, and I’ve been teetering on the brink of unsubscription for months. For one thing, I hate and automatically skip all live shows. As soon as I hear the applause, I hit the button. Even when they aren’t live, the 6 to 14 minutes of sponsorship messages and promos is completely unreal. As I find the show less and less compelling over time just based solely on the content of it, they are really doing weirdly audience hostile things. I think I might just unsubscribe now and leave the 7 or so already downloaded episodes in my queue. If something changes my mind, I’ll resubscribe. If not, so long guys and good luck. If that happens, I might be the one and only listener of Tell ‘Em Steve Dave that unsubscribes from SModcast in disgust. To be honest, I’ve been digging on TESD waaaaay more than SModcast pretty much since the show started, which the exception of the live episodes. Pretty much every live episode of every podcast sucks.

I have almost worked off the backlog of eBook Ninjas and Dork Forest episodes and I’m really enjoying both shows. After a month of listening to one episode of each every time I sync my player, I’m down to 4 or 5 of each. Once the backlogs are done, my velocity should pick up a little. I’m such a dork for this stuff. I wish I could qualify for being a guest on Dork Forest, I’d talk all about podcasting dorkiness.

Podcast Quality Vs. Engagement

My Podcast Listening Experience

A few years ago there was a blog frenzy on here about podcast production. I listened to a podcast where the host was demonstratiing how he made his show sound professional, with his Heil microphone and his compressor and effects chain. I listened to that show and in fact I thought that his show sounded better when he turned off all the vocal compression. Before he sounded like a truck rally commercial, after he sounded like a person conversing. Of course, via Twitter he rallied his faithful listeners to come and tell me how wrong I was and this was the result.

Around that time I made myself a little sketch but I didn’t have a working scanner at the time so this was confined to a 3″ X 5″ index card in a pile of detritus in my office. The other day I ran across it and immediately relived the whole argument in a flash, as much fun as that was. In itself, it was a rehash of a 2005 era running of the bull when Stephen Hill of the Hearts of Space radio show weighed in via Steve Gillmor how he though podcasting would never go anywhere because the audio production was so frequently too low as to be unlistenable to him.

My opinion was always hard to articulate but approximates to :

There is a floor of production and processing below which I can’t stand to listen no matter how good the content.
There is a ceiling over which I can’t stand to listen no matter how good the content.
There is some content that I find god awful no matter how good or bad the audio quality is but the opposite doesn’t hold true.

This is easier to represent graphically, and here with my meager talents and illegible handwriting is the sketch I drew myself to figure out what I was talking about. Some of these shows and networks I haven’t listened to in many years but I’d say that this all holds up pretty well in terms of me still agreeing with it. I’m not mentioning the names of the original folks who were so opposed to me because I don’t want any Google Alerts to bring in a lot of douche baggage. Still, I like the concept and stand by it so here you go inkernet. Enjoy!  

Update: I didn’t listen to the show when I first drew this graph but I should have added to it. I’d put George Hrab’s Geologic Podcast about halfway between Hour of Slack and the listenable/unlistenable line. I like the show and am engaged with it each episode and long term as a subscriber, but there have been shows where the produced stuff put me off to the point of getting an itchy skip finger. It’s also worth noting that my single favorite episodes were the three hours of him just talking with his friend Milton about Trebuchet . No bits, no jingles or stingers or bumpers, just lots of talk and bits of music.

Update 2: I saw via FriendFeed that Evo Terra mentioned on Twitter this XKCD cartoon. This is a different angle on the same exasperation I feel sometimes.

“You Can’t Solve Business Problems with the Legal System”

I heard an interesting session from the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference via my IT Conversations podcast feed. One of Google’s senior copyright lawyers William Patry spoke about how you can’t use copyright law to solve your business problems – not by altering the enforcement of it or lobbying for stricter laws or any of it. Key quotes (paraphrased from memory as it was a 6 AM dog walk when I heard it):

“When you use the legal system to try to solve your business problems, and the ultimate effect is losing respect for the legal system”

“You can’t sue your customers into caring about and buying your product.”

I think this is a very interesting listen. It’s under 25 minutes total and if your income is in any way is tied to copyright, you should invest a half hour listening to this.

Saul Griffith on the Wattage of a Lifestyle and Energy Literacy

Perhaps my favorite presentation ever on IT Conversations is this session from ETech with Saul Griffith (presentation hardcopy here). He discusses some assumptions on how carbon dioxide levels could be stabilized at non-catastrophic levels and then what the energy requirements of the maximum average lifestyle would be. Interestingly, he analyzes his own lifestyle in terms of the wattage it requires to sustain it, which is a unit I’ve never really thought about for applying to ones life. For example, if you have a drink and discard one 20 oz plastic bottle every day, that works out to 90 watts sustained when you take the amount of energy in the bottle divided by seconds in a day. It’s a really interesting analysis.

In the latter part of the presentation, he discusses the amount of new clean energy that would need to come online to meet his projected energy budget. He talks about the distressingly large but not impossible capacity that needs to be built. For example in terms of wind, he says that a dozen 3 megawatt wind turbines will need to go online every hour for the next 25 years, which is one 100 meter turbine every 5 minutes. He points out that such a creation may be beyond our government, but it is not beyond GM + Ford + Chrysler. I heard this a few weeks ago at the height of discussion of bailouts of the same big three automakers. All I could think was “hell, let’s not have the American public bail out the big three – let’s buy them and retool them into wind turbine and solar thermal turbine factories.” How much industrial capacity in the USA is sitting idle right now? Hell, about 30 miles from me in South Carolina there are factories upon factories sitting dark with unemployed workforces ready to be rehired if someone were to light them back up.

My hero Buckminster Fuller did much of his work in the 40s and 50s with an eye towards solving housing shortages with excess capacity of the American WW II era aircraft factories. HIs Wichita house was designed using the idea of being able to built by aircraft factories with the minimal amount of retooling. This same type of thinking is needed today. We have multiple problems in our economy and our environment and they can all fix each other at the same time. Let’s put people back to work, let’s put our tax money to work, create new energy sources with less environmental impact. Everyone — and I mean everyone — wins on this.

This needs vision and leadership. I pray to R. Buckminster Fuller every night that John Holdren and the Obama administration will see this truth and make this happen. If we don’t do this now, my backup hope is that disaster holds off just long enough so that society doesn’t completely fall apart until after I’m dead. That’s not much of a hope, so let’s do the other thing, please, America.

The Coup in America

I am tentatively pleased that the attempted coup in the United States of America, the one that would install Hank Paulson as acting leader of the American Junta, is running into problems. The first laugh I’ve had from the whole situation came from the image attached to this NPR story. I’m very proud of Christopher Dodd for staring down the Bush Administration on this point. He is the hero of this Congress, and I wish he was the majority leader rather than Harry Reid. Every point where the Democrats looked like they’d do their standard act of caving in to threats and then ended up hanging tough and fighting, Christopher Dodd was involved, sometimes the only one standing up.

Here is a copy of Dodd’s proposed bailout legislation via the Sunlight Foundation. Compared to the original floated, which would have made any congressional or judicial oversight illegal, it is a damn sight better. You can annotate and leave your comments over there, which I encourage anyone to do who has the time to do. I just heard Larry Lessig’s talk about the Sunlight Foundation the other day, and it was fantastic. This is the first legislation that I’ve seen it in action, and this my friends is what democracy in the 21st century should look like.

Update: Whoops, didn’t actually include the link to Dodd’s marked up legislation. Thanks to Adam for pointing that out.

Around the Podosphere

Here’s some more things of note from my recent podcast listening, as I slowly work off the backlog. Some of this stuff is a month or more old (some of it is years old but I’m just discovering it) but all good.

I heard Justin Kownacki on MacVoices #676. In it, he was talking about PodCamp Pittsburgh but also his vlog narrative series Something to Be Desired. I’ll talk about it more later on, but I’m watching the last episode of season 1 right now over lunch. The acting at times is a little of that forced local theater group style, but overall I’m getting into it. There are like 40 more episodes I have yet to watch, so my opinion has a lot of room to develop but I’m liking it so far.

More RU Sirius love/hate, this time on the love side of the equation. On episode #67, he talked to the makers of the documentary American Hardcore. This sounds really interesting (and I probably need to read the book too) as it seems to fill in exactly the gaps that I had such a problem with in IFC’s Punk:Attitude documentary. Mainly, punk didn’t stop from 1980 to 1990 and just because New York and LA people got blase about it, it didn’t disappear. There is a lot of good stuff in here about the DIY aesthetic, and how a big portion of what made indy punk work was the supportive community of people helping each other out. A lot of these insights are directly applicable to new media, and it would behoove all of us who care about it to pay attention to these lessons of recent history.

The key point in this episode, when the guys won my heart, was when Diana Brown tried to play the “These kids today with their iPods and Gameboys” card, and they refused to accept that. Bravo! I spent most of my life hearing how bad I and my generation were because we weren’t stereotypical hippies like the Baby Boomers. I refuse to do the same thing to today’s kids just because they aren’t like us. Flowers grown in different soil bloom differently, and that is not their moral failing but a fact of nature.

An episode of IT Conversations from the Adaptive Path Conference was an interview conducted by Janice Fraser with Kathan Brown about her art press and book on creativity. There is a whole lot of insight here relevant to new media, about fearlessly approaching your creativity and owning your art. I highly recommend it.

EGC Clambake For September 9, 2006

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for September 9, 2006.

Today is a clip show and a live bootleg show. I play bits of other podcasts that have struck my fancy later and several songs that are freely available out there on the internet. I start with a song from the late great Warren Zevon; I play two bits from RU Sirius, one of which prompts me to discuss geographic elitism; I play a silly clip from the “official Ebert and Roeper podcast”; I play a bit from Jonathan Coulton on the PopSci podcast; I play a live bootleg from the Butthole Surfers; I play a little moment from the dada madness of Tiki Bar TV; I show what kind of crap I did for WREK in Atlanta; I play a snippet from Jeff Mallett at the Web 2.0 conference via IT Conversations; I talk about the Flaming Lips documentary and play a live song from them; it’s over and nothing can change that.

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EGC Clambake For June 20, 2006

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for June 20, 2006.

A spontaneous show! I play a song by the Decemberists; I play two snippets from the Web 2.0 conference panel on “Future of Entertainment” and throw in my commentary; I play a song by the Magnetic Fields; I discuss Jon Udell and This American Life; I play a piece from The Onion; I rock out to a song by the Famous; tell a story about carnies and call it.

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To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. 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 2.5.

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Bruce Sterling on the Internet of Things

I had previously blogged about and quoted bits of the Bruce Sterling “Internet of things” talk as it was edited and aired on O’Reilly’s Distributing the Future. Yesterday I heard the full talk from IT Conversations which I found superior. It’s a really good talk, and it made me feel better about the occasional contentiousness amongst the denizens on the new media frontiers. “It’s a clash of sensibilities that really need to clash” indeed.

As an aside, I don’t know what to make of Distributing the Future. It is highly produced, which I think is my problem with it. It’s well edited and has all the stuff going on, but that actually puts me off. The highly compressed voices, the zippy editing and such leave me cold, especially compared to the similar or same material on IT Conversations where it isn’t so highly treated. I’ve actually unsusbcribed and resubscribed to DTF several times. When I hear the arguments about how “no one will listen unless the production standards are as good as NPR” I think about this show, one that I’d like better if they didn’t produce it so much and instead gave it more room to breathe.

Future of Work

I heard an interesting talk on IT Conversations, Thomas Malone on the future of work. The basic thesis is that democracy is a function of the cost of communication, and that as communication costs dropped in society democracy emerged in governance. He posits that we will see democracy in business governance in the same sort of way. I can tell you that I’m a beneficiary of that sort of work organization, where cheap communications obviate my having to sit in an office with everyone else.

I have a magic phone on my desk, where I can dial an extension that rings hundreds of miles away, the main number can rollover to me if so desired, and my voicemails get emailed to me as an attachment. The majority of communication with my coworkers actually occurs via instant message. To me, the idea that less of our energy of the workday (human and chemical and mechanical) goes into moving our atoms from home to work and back and more goes into moving ideas and electrons is a win for everyone.

And in a barely related topic, somewhere around here is the five year anniversary of the only layoff of my career. Now there’s an event that changed my relationship with work permanently. When a company that asked so much of me professionally and personally threw me overboard for their own convenience, it forever altered how I look at such requests.

Seeing and Hearing

Here’s some stuff lately that has interested me, bothered me or amused me in citizen media.

Today’s episode of Rocketboom mostly reruns this thing some guys in Berlin did where they stuck a projector outside a train and showed movies on the subway walls. Although the project is kind of cool, I think the actual execution was grotesquely irresponsible. A train pulls up, this guy sticks a metal case to the outside of a car and then it takes off. I would like to think that had I seen him do this, I’d have at least called 911, tried to keep the train from leaving and/or knocked the mother fucker down and held him for the cops. I can’t believe the crowds of people who just watched him do it. I’m all for dadaist street art, but now is not the time to be affixing suspicious looking gear to commuter trains. These guys could have caused the transit system to get shut down or possibly taken a bullet to the head, depending on whether they ran into sufficiently twitchy cops. The stupidity and creation of pointless risk made me too angry to enjoy the art of it.

I watched the first episode of Robert X. Cringely’s new video thingie, Nerd TV. The interview was with Andy Hertzfeld and was pretty interesting. Is it just me, or does Andy look like he could easily be Bruce Sterling’s brother? It’s licensed under Creative Commons, so I suppose if you wanted to take all these shows and edit them into your own non-commercial documentary you could. Pick one topic and just take out the interviews on that point, for example, and create a 30 minute show out of the whole season. That could be quite interesting. It should be pointed out that Cringely now lives about 90 miles south of me in Charleston SC and that they really really need an enclosure feed for the video. They’ve got them for podcasts of the audio, but not for the video. Why not? Am I going to have to scrape my own?

I’ll mention three shows from IT Conversations, two I loved and one I hated. The two I loved:

One was Jason Fried of 37signals giving a talk about the lessons learned building Basecamp. I agree with a lot of the philosophy about doing things cheap, avoiding the pressures of VC money, iterating often, etc. It sounds like all the good stuff of agile development without the woowoo bits of extreme programming that make me itchy.

The other was Doc Searls who talked to Sig Solares, the guy who kept his data center in New Orleans going through the hurricane and flood. It was fascinating on a technical level and horrifying on a human one.

The one I hated was the Larry Magid interview with George Gilder. I’ve heard multiple podcasts with Gilder recently and he strikes me as one of those pundits that people pay attention to but I’m not exactly sure why. Even though I overlap with his opinions on many points (citizen media being a big one), I find listening to him highly annoying. Mostly, his depth of criticism seems to consist of making up goofily insulting nicknames for the things he doesn’t agree with, like “fool cells.” Thank you, Deep Thought. His shallow dismissals for spurious reasons some technologies makes me nervous when I hear him high on technologies I am also high on. It makes me think that maybe I’m actually wrong, if I’m on the same side as him on that point. I heard him on the Gillmor Gang a few weeks ago and had a similar reaction to that.

Both Benjamen Walker and Bazooka Joe had interviews with Dr. Ben Marble, the infamous “Mr. Cheney, go fuck yourself” guy, on Theory of Everything and Small World (no permalink for that episode that I can find) respectively. Usually I fill with disdain at people who do everything to milk a buck out of their 15 seconds of fame, but the guy just lost everything as hurricane Katrina flattened his home and recording studio in Gulfport MS so I guess I’ll give the poor bastard a break.

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.

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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.

Clambake Episode for July 9, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 9, 2005.

I send out what cold comfort I can to our friends in London; I play a song by Nathan Sheppard; I play my interview with Rocket City Riot drummer Mark Reiter and this week’s song; I play a promo from Skepticality.com; I talk about Rob Greenlee’s interview with Mark Ramsey; I mention my IT Conversations interview with Cory Doctorow and the art of persuasion; I wonder if I am stuck in a comfort zone with my music and play two songs from Two Zombies Later and then pull the plg.

Note that I forget to finish my thought about Rob Greenlee, that in this interview I agree down the line with Rob and disagree down the line with Mark Ramsey.

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.

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I’ve been blogging for almost three years and podcasting for almost a year now, but often I feel really disconnected from the “bloggerati” or whatever else you might call them. I’m not going to use the letter-grade rankings that I hate so much. When I listened to Halley Suitt interview Meg Hourihan, she began with a statement like “Surely everyone who blogs knows who you are” but I had no idea who she was. Back when Odeo was announced I had no idea who Evan Williams was. Just now, when the interview with Ana Marie Cox showed up in my Shuffle, I had no idea who she was either.

I’ve never read Wonkette, I’ve never read Instapundit, or a whole bunch of the highly popular weblogs. It’s a big ol’ blogosphere, so big that you can no longer take for granted that anyone of any notoriety is known, ever to others in this selfsame blogosphere.

Clambake Episode for June 9, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for June 9, 2005.

I talk about being low energy; I have a VOIP box in my house, named “the Batphone”; I play a song from Chub Creek about how poor I am at answering email; I talk about passing on the Spoleto festival; I play a clip from Echo Radio; I play an “evil genius” song from Jonathan Coulton; I give Adam from the MacCast static about his trepidation for taking ads; I mention the Rob Glaser streaming deal; and finally I play a hilariously raunchy song by Jonathan Coulton.

This episode is sponsored in part by the fine folks at iPodderX! 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.

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Rob Glaser on RealAudio

I listened to the Larry Magid interview with Rob Glaser of Real. They were talking about the tenth anniversary of streaming RealAudio. I’m pretty sure I heard Glaser claim that they were the first to do it, which is patently false. Both WREK in Atlanta and WXYC in Chapel Hill were streaming 6 months before the time Glaser cites as their “origin date”.

I used to think that WREK had a claim for being first to stream as they were both on the same day but now I believe they have ceded that claim as WXYC was released to the public the day WREK went beta. So, WXYC was first but WREK gets the geek points. WXYC was using off the shelf packages and had help from Sunsite while WREK’s client, server and protocol (CyberRadio1) were written by the guy who was the general manager of the station, a guy named John Selbie.

Regardless of all that, a lot of people were streaming before the time Glaser claims that Real originated audio streaming.