Interview with David Wilk

David Wilk invited me to his Publishing Talks Podcast, to about LibriVox, iambik, libraries, PressBooks, and general future of publishing stuff.

Here is the link.

And here is the audio [mp3].

Interview with David Wilk

David Wilk invited me to his Publishing Talks Podcast, to about LibriVox, iambik, libraries, PressBooks, and general future of publishing stuff.

Here is the link.

And here is the audio [mp3].

LibriVox Turns Four

librivoxToday is LibriVox’s 4th birthday. LibriVox is a kooky kind of project with the following objective:

To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.

Some statistics, as of today:

Total recorded time in all rss-ified works: 49596721 seconds, or 574 days, 0 hours, 52 minutes, and 1 seconds. Total of 50774 sections.

If you have a soft spot in your heart for LibriVox, perhaps you might consider leaving a little message on the blog, or the forum.

Or even better, perhaps you might help us record a few chapters of public domain texts? …

MediaHacks #5: Twitter as Google Rival

Media HacksMedia Hacks #5: this one ended up pretty interesting, talking about Twitter as a search engine and possible Google rival, Google search tweaks, brands, and conferences/unconferences. On the media hacks hotline: C.C. Chapman, Julien Smith, Chris Penn, Mitch Joel and me.

LISTEN HERE: Media Hacks: Episode 5

New Podcast: Media Hacks

Mitch Joel, Julien Smith and I get together every once in a while for lunch, inevitably yakking about media, the web, communities. Sometimes they make me talk about marketing too. It’s almost invariably intense, and fun, and illuminating, and I usually leave all fired up (after having let loose with a few grumpy-old-man tirades against various offenders against common sense). Mitch keeps saying, “You know, we should record these lunches.” And Julien & I say: “Yup.”

But Mitch one-upped that idea, and asked some more smart digital people to join us for an every-so-often podcast. So, together with the three Montreal amigos, Chris Brogan, CC Chapman, Chris Penn will help round out the podcast sixsome. We’re calling it:

media hacks

(No url yet, but it’s coming I think).

Here is the first episode (mp3), featuring Julien, Chris Brogan, and Mitch, but not: CC, Chris Penn, and me. [Note: it’s intro’d as Six Pixels of Separation, but it’ll have it’s own, er, branding soon. Also Note: Julien swears like a drunken sailor, which is why we love him].

[photo by CC]

the intimacy of audio

I gave a semi-impromptu presentation/discussion yesterday at Podcamp Montreal* on “The Intimacy of Audio.”

I’ve always felt that audio is the most intimate communication medium, and in the session yesterday I wanted to explore the idea of intimacy further. In particular, I wonder how we can build and use technology to help people become more closely connected with the things that are important to them, rather than just feeding more information faster and better. Much of my experience of technology seems to detract from my life rather than add to it (though of course I get great value too). I’m a slave to my computer and the web, and so much of it is distraction from things I find important.

That is why I like podcasts – because they let me get *away* from technology, and into a place where I can be more intimately connected with ideas and thoughts and emotions. Good podcasts (and good radio and good audiobooks) make me think in ways that I can’t when I am sitting in front of the computer, checking RSS feeds and answering emails. They’re also great when cooking, or driving long distances.

With LibriVox, I think, we’ve used technology to help people find this intimacy, by helping volunteers read texts that are important to them in a closer and deeper way. That people like me get to listen occasionally is a wonderful side-benefit.

In discussing the “intimacy of audio,” I played a really moving piece from Scarborough Dude’s Dicksnjanes podcast, about the death of a young boy from the neighbourhood. Here’s the excerpt (mp3-slightly edited). And here is the full episode.

We had a great talk afterwards, with comments from CC Chapman, Mitch Joel, Julien, Steph, Yanik, Patrick, and a host of other people whose names and/or URLs I don’t know (if you were one, please let me know).

There are a few other bits of audio that have really moved me, and that I thought of playing for the gang, but didn’t:

(Though my podcasting listening habits tend more to public radio/professional stuff, three out of four of the most moving audio bits I’ve heard were from DIY podcasts – not surprising, I guess, but significant).

In preparation for the presentation, I asked for some suggestions from the LibriVox community of the most moving bits of audio from that collection, which I didn’t have the chance to play. Here are some of the suggestions:

Any other suggestions for audio tearjerkers on the web?

I wonder what it is about audio that can deliver such intimacy in ways that text and video can’t? Why is the Scarbdude piece so moving? And, how can “we” do more to help make technology address our need for intimacy – creating it, connecting with it – rather than just flooding us with more information and efficient ways to organize things?

*And by the way, a huge congrats to Michelle, Sylvain, Laurent, Laurent, Julien, Bob, Jean-Fran├žois, Harold and Mitch for putting together what everyone I talked to says was the best podcamp they’ve attended.

Categories: art, podcasting

Against the Odds

This American Life can be a bit much at times, but some wonderful radio/podcasting comes out of the show. Ira Glass and gang often manage to get such moving stories out of people, with an underlying concept that people on the radio and in podcasts should sound like people.

I’m a very minor closet Phil Collins fan (Against All Odds and In the Air Tonight), but even if you HATE Phil Collins, check out this piece with him on the show.

It’s extraordinary audio. It starts with a silly premise, heartbroken girl wants to talk to Phil about heartbreak, then weaves its way from mildly cringe-inducing humour into something else altogether. By the end, all sorts of barriers have come down, and its turned into one of the most personal and moving interviews about loss and art I’ve ever heard.

Download or listen to it quickly: TAL’s podcasts are up for a week only, and this came out last week sometime.


public broadcasting & podcasting

I’ve been listening to tons of great public broadcasting on

And here’s a different view about why “good” public broadcasting is important: with the web, and podcasts, the CBC becomes a calling card for Canada. Ditto Deutsche-Welle for Germany and ARN for Australia etc. The broadcaster becomes a marketing tool and a builder of prestige. This is becoming more important in the networked world, where – for many of my peers, for instance – we can be anywhere in the world to do the work we do. Ditto businesses, scientists, writers and other “elites.” We want them here, in Canada, in Montreal, because really smart people make a country more vibrant and innovative.

I believe that a strong public broadcaster with excellent, thought-provoking content, helps build Canada’s image in the world.

While this isn’t all a public broadcaster should do, this is a new kind of rationale, I believe, brought on by the web; and one that might be more compelling to the business-only decision-making that runs our governments these days.

Note, this applies as well to universities: all universities should put a chunk of their marketing budget towards producing a weekly, high-quality podcast that interviews professors doing exciting research (whether in arts, humanities, or sciences and professional disciplines). I’m thinking of a weekly podcast with content as varied and wonderful as the TEDTalks. That is the gold standard for thought-provoking web content … and should be emulated by anyone who wants to build an image as a place of exciting innovation.

I was just talking with Mitch and Julien about this at lunch the other day; and commented on Mat’s blog to this effect.

PodMtl meet-up this thursday

PodMtl, a monthly meet-up for podcasters and the podcast-curious, as well as friends and family-members of podcasters. PodMtl is a welcoming, non-judgmental gathering in an open, non-threatening environment, to talk about issues that affect podcasters and those around them.

pod mtl

So join us on November 29th starting at 19:30. Here’s the address :

* Sergent Recruteur
* 4801 St-Laurent blvd, Montreal
* 514.287.1412

I’m going to try to make it, but I am training back from Ottawa that day.

Thanks for organizing this, to: Sylvain and Bob.

I love when I discover richer and more varied uses for podcasts. Jim Mowatt, a long-time LibriVox guy, and a retired force behind the LibriVox community podcast, has just launched a podcast about history. He did wonderful work on the LV podcast, so I’ll bet this one will be a goodie, for you History buffs. Have not listened yet, but just queuing it up.

Check out: … or:
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