Blogs in Action from Six Apart

Suw Charman pauses from transcription Suw looked up long enough for my camera to capture her, but the rest of the time she was clearly tapping away.

Johnnie Moore, Minkmedia , Luke Razzell and Connected Blog(with pictures) have all covered the Blogs in Action seminar at the Polish Club, courtesy of Six Apart & Nokia last night too.

All the panel had very cool, interesting stuff to say, but John Dale blogmeister for Warwick University came over, as others have noted, as the star turn of the evening.

John Dale wows 'em

I’m with Johnnie though on the style and format of the seminar – I thought the panel was great, I really enjoyed listening to them, but I’d have loved to have more chance to hear what others had to say and to engage in conversation with them. There are industries and communities where a top table talking to the crowd and revealing their arcane mysteries to the great unwashed is appropriate, but the blog world is much more democratic and is decentralized by its very nature – this form just didn’t work, for me, last night.

My frustration was exacerbated of course by my recent personal injury which meant that after two hours of sitting still, with a sore face and a numb bum, the last thing I felt up to was what Suw called “speed-mingling”. But even had I been 100%, I would have found a more interactive evening even more stimulating.

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Podwalker takes a tumble

scraped

Ouch!

Just went out to get some lunch, walking through Stratford High St in East London, IT conversations on the player – Marc Canter talking about ourmedia.org and the internet archive – wow this is coo… BAMMM, strange floating sensation followed by face and knees scraping along pavement and then small birds twittering around my head.

My first reaction? Oh no here comes someone looking very concerned who wants to look after me – real playground stuff, “No, I’m alright, no really, thank you very much ” [limps off manfully, little tear on cheek]

Turns out I put one foot into a loop of discarded plastic tape (the stuff that holds boxes of photocopier paper together) and either put the other foot in it too or stepped on it with the other foot thus upending myself.

Pictures later – ie after the bleeding slows, but before my pride gets re-inflated. [update - no chance of ego reflation - kids way too amused]

Now if I’d been recording instead of listening….

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From the gmail of Lloyd Davis

This is a round-up of some of the cool things that have landed in my mailbox so far this week:

BicycleMark – the Amsterdam podwalker and communique-er extraordinaire, let me know that my feedburner feed didn’t have enclosures. So now it does.

Christian d’Hoste sent me his flickr-seeing tour of Florida post hurricane and his regular podcast, for which we must find a home.

Effern McSchmeefern (sp? mmmmm… may not be his real name) from The Vision Thing (somewhere deep in the heart of Texas I think) asked if he could use the podcasting is easy clip I did this week and in the process introduced me to his great business podcast – Sound of Vision (subscribe) I like it a lot.

and finally Neal Foley on Rock Island, WA has set up Pod chef blog and podcast where he is cooking with gas, baby – this week a mouthwatering corned beef hash with cabbage in a mustard sauce. Neal’s a professional chef, taking the format that I used for my curry-cast but putting his own inimitable stamp on it. He’s starting this on a real shoestring budget and because he’s way out off the coast of Washington state he’s doing it all over a 56k dial-up connection – now that’s commitment to podcasting folks! If you enjoy what you hear and want to support him in doing more I’m sure that Neal won’t mind though if you throw some tips in his paypal tipjar. And of course, if you’re anywhere in the Pacific North-West region and you need someone a bit different to cater for a big do – then what better than a podcasting chef!

Phew – now give me more, people, bring it on, I can take it!!

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Podcasting…complicated???? Do me a favour!

Om Malik says podcasting’s very complicated. I disagree. In my experience, this is how simple it is to be a podcaster.

1. Have an idea – now I see how that might cause problems, but if we take it one day at a time most of us can manage that eventually.

2. Next, the really hard bit you have to say the idea out loud while running a piece of audio software and save your idea in an mp3 file – mmmm… not really much more complicated than typing in an OpenOffice text doc and then saving in MS Word format while talking to someone else on the phone – do it all the time.

3. ftp your file up to a host – been using ftp for longer than… well.. http anyway.

4. Blog about it, using whatever new and interesting ways your blogging software handles adding said file as an enclosure to your rss 2.0 with enclosures feed.

5. Sit back and wait for the donations to flood into your tip jar as millions of people suddenly get what a cool and interesting (and to be honest, damn sexy) person you really are.

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“Find your neutral space. You got a rush. It’ll pass. Be seated.” – Withnail & I, 1987

I was initially puzzled by what Dave Winer meant by me believing in the insiders and giving them the power (I wouldn’t have put it that way) but his explanation of what happens when the drugs wear off helps.

And what he says about tools puts into focus my dissatisfaction with Sparks! as I wrote about it earlier. It doesn’t actually do anything more that I want to do as a podcaster except bring together cut down versions of the tools in a single package and bung in some free (for now) hosting. I’d much rather learn to use the existing separate tools (my minidisc, audacity, RSS 2.0 and associated software, ftp, ipodder, MT) which I might one day use for other things too, than put the effort into learning how to use a needlessly over-complicated interface which just sews together the bits that someone else thinks are important.

The whole notion of insiders and outsiders kind of dissolves when I remember that to me Dave appears to be an insider – he plainly doesn’t feel like one. To anyone who discovered blogging yesterday I might look like an insider – well I just ain’t, but I have experienced the buzz of people considering me an insider in other areas and I don’t deny it is a powerful drug.

This leads me to refine what I said about power on Doc’s site – I left out those who don’t accept the popular view of where power lies and point out that (as usual) those who style themselves as “kings” are in the altogether.

So please Adam, Evan and all, put some clothes on, quick, I’m finding it difficult to put my mouth right up to the mic with that mental image in my mind.

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“Find your neutral space. You got a rush. It’ll pass. Be seated.” – Withnail & I, 1987

I was initially puzzled by what Dave Winer meant by me believing in the insiders and giving them the power (I wouldn’t have put it that way) but his explanation of what happens when the drugs wear off helps.

And what he says about tools puts into focus my dissatisfaction with Sparks! as I wrote about it earlier. It doesn’t actually do anything more that I want to do as a podcaster except bring together cut down versions of the tools in a single package and bung in some free (for now) hosting. I’d much rather learn to use the existing separate tools (my minidisc, audacity, RSS 2.0 and associated software, ftp, ipodder, MT) which I might one day use for other things too, than put the effort into learning how to use a needlessly over-complicated interface which just sews together the bits that someone else thinks are important.

The whole notion of insiders and outsiders kind of dissolves when I remember that to me Dave appears to be an insider – he plainly doesn’t feel like one. To anyone who discovered blogging yesterday I might look like an insider – well I just ain’t, but I have experienced the buzz of people considering me an insider in other areas and I don’t deny it is a powerful drug.

This leads me to refine what I said about power on Doc’s site – I left out those who don’t accept the popular view of where power lies and point out that (as usual) those who style themselves as “kings” are in the altogether.

So please Adam, Evan and all, put some clothes on, quick, I’m finding it difficult to put my mouth right up to the mic with that mental image in my mind.

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Podwalk 008 Oxford St to Greek St (Soho)

Berwick St Market

Meanwhile, in another part of London…

…rumour has it that Adam Curry was doing a sound-seeing tour in London yesterday too but here’s my perspective on a lovely spring day in the West End of London, walking from the Selfridges end of Oxford St, down South Moulton St, along Brook St and the bottom of Hanover Sq to Regent St and then cutting through the Carnaby St Maze to Marshall St, Broadwick St, Berwick St Market, round into Old Compton St and along to Maison Bertaux in Greek St where I was meeting my old mate Rufus for a cup of tea.

Pictures to go along are on Flickr tagged as podwalk008

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Sparks!, Odeo, Podshow – the phoney war continues

screenshot of sparks 2.0

This conversation is getting interesting – but it’s still the “phoney war”.

A couple of hours after I posted on Odeo yesterday, I got a mail from David Janes at BlogMatrix suggesting I try out his new tool Sparks! (not my exclamation mark!) which is an integrated podcatcher, rss aggregator, blogging tool, media player and podcast creation tool (at least those are the elements that I could discern, there may be even more…) and which is going for an official launch next week.

For these tools, it’s early days and the field’s wide open, and as AC keeps saying on the DSC they can only compete on quality and time to market. Well my initial reaction to the BlogMatrix offering is congratulations on getting to market quickly – and engaging in the conversation with little guys like me – not quite full marks yet on the quality of the product. So quick to market with a product like this isn’t quite kicking someone in the nuts.

I found it straightforward, but I’m not good at thinking out of my own experience. I couldn’t get my head around the podcast recording/mixing bit. Your file gets posted in .torrent format – which is fine if you know what it is and you’ve figured out how to get bittorrent to work efficiently behind your firewall etc. etc. I think overall the missing bit is documentation – David tells me there is a support page up now, but it’s still very bare.

This is what I said to David by e-mail:

“1. Easy to set up and get going – I understood most of the things
that i needed to do, but I’m used to aggregators and I’ve been
podcasting already for ooooh a couple of months! I liked that I
didn’t have to give you gazillions of bits of information in order to
register – free hosting doesn’t hurt any either…!.

2. So far I have recorded all of my podcasts on minidisc, transferred
them to PC and then done some post-production in audacity which I’ve
also used for mp3 encoding. With sparks! I just tried uploading a
previously published file of around 3 megs – went up very easily,
though I could have done with a status bar to see how far it had got.
I also mixed something from scratch, but I don’t have a good mic with
me and I don’t really think in that mixing way – dunno need to play
with it a bit more – I kind of worked out what I was supposed to do,
and I could see it working for a daily source code type show, but for
me it was too complicated.

3. Not sure about the .torrent format – I can understand the
rationale, but it’s still a bit bleeding edge for me and it shuts out
a lot of my listeners many of whom have taken a long time to get used
to downloading mp3s! I also sit behind a variety of firewalls myself
and so I don’t always get the full benefit. I think it’s a risky
strategy is all – I’m sure you’ve thought about it.

4. I struggled to find my blog page to download and listen without
sparks! I’m sure I’ll find it again… but this was the only annoying
moment – perhaps it could be signposted or put in the registration
confirmation email – “once you’ve published something it will show up
at http: //www. etc” that kind of thing.”

This morning Doc points out that it’s currently only available as a Windows .exe, which is the kind of thing that Doc notices but I don’t. I think though that I would like it better if the UI were simpler – perhaps browser based or if it has to be a client-app, then as with Ipodder Lemon 2.0 a bunch of tabbed sub-screens.

Doc also hints that we might see something from Odeo soon – I’m sure there’ll be some more detailed Podshow announcement as well, so then perhaps we can start comparing real features rather than going on about what we haven’t heard yet.

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Odeo, integrity and credibility

Dave reminds us of what we still don’t know about Odeo. And Adam talks about advertising and making money in podcasting.

What bugs me about Odeo is that they’re a “podcasting” company without any podcasts! How much credibility does that show – would you have bought blogging from Evan if he didn’t have a blog – ? To me, every day that that continues is more evidence that all it’s about is sucking cash out of a market that other people have built. And what’s annoying about that is not that people are making money – I love seeing people make money, I have my own company, I’m a capitalist – but that people who already are millionaires use their position of power to make even more money out of something that someone else has put the slog into – that’s capitalism that sucks. I know that this is projection, I don’t know what is in the Odeo grand master plan, but not having audio available on your site when that seems to be fundamental to your product doesn’t fill me with optimism – how does this fit with Dave’s definition of integrity? We shall see. Perhaps Evan’s presentation to etech will be on IT Conversations in six month’s time…

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