Culture of Participation
September 26, 2006, 3:48 pm
Filed under: media, radio, TV

When does the culture of participation go too far?
We have all experienced participatory entertainment (American Idol, etc.) and participatory journalism (all the fine and not so fine blogs out there…), hey we even have particpatory heckling on such fine institutions as WEEI radio’s Whiner Line and its like, but does every supposed news program really need to have audience participation? If we are going to invite listeners to call in or send e-mail on almost every news program of note, how much news goes uncovered. This all started (my elders may correct me if I’m not going back far enough) with 60 Minutes, which in its earliest days began reading comments and questions from its viewers…. this stuff is not news people! Of course the institution should rightfully be credited to a much older media,…periodicals and newspapers where letters to the editor allow the ultimate form of audience participations…one which can also be ignored

I don’t want to spend 30 seconds much less the 5 minutes or more some “news” programs devote to listener/viewer participation. Mainstream media is increadingly incorporating viewer participation into its programs to emulate the qualities of blogs and other citizen media, but TV and Radio are simply not structured for it…you can’t escape when some idiot rants for 3 minutes about his own ignorance. The result is increasingly irritating mainstream news programming, instead of compelling content.

TV and radio producers – stick to your media’s strengths. Provide high quality journalism. Do your homework. Don’t invite every opionated windbag to fill programming for you with little or no editorial control. The beauty of blogs and especially the comments sections of great blogs is simple; the audience controls the flow. Viewer/listener participation in mainstream TV/Radio has the opposite effect, the listener is powerless…except to change the channel. Enough call-in segments already.


Community Directories
July 25, 2006, 11:59 am
Filed under: media, Podcasts

The age of directories is upon us, but directories aren’t enough.

It’s almost a waste of time to try and discover anything new with Google or any other search engine, the web has gotten too large. Search engines are great tools if you know what you are looking for, but to go out and discover new things…forget it.

Alternatively, there are many efforts underway to create directories with a taxonomy of items from commerical directories to blogs to podcasts. These generally fall into two categories: 1) webcrawling, automatic discovery, or 2) human selected sites based on preference or recommendation. The former are exhaustive but non-discriminating and depending on the topic being covered they can be just as hard to use for discovery as Google. The latter are naturally more limited in scope, but may miss out on some of the best content in the category because of the creators reach and exposure.

It will be very interesting to see what impact this has on the evolution of community directories.  If the technology currently available via RSS and OPML is leveraged to allow a broad spectrum of individuals to collectively assemble directories, complete with rating/ranking and commentary we may approach a happy medium… broad reach, deep experience in the category and human value added first and second order information about content.  There are still a lot of pitfalls to the approach, but there is still more promise than in automated search and indexing.

At Podcast.com we are building the infrastructure necessary to facilitate community directories for podcasts both audio and video. Beyond community directories, we’re building tools to allow both active participation and passive consumption. It’s more than just a recommendation engine. We’re looking forward to seeing communities connect with the content that matters to them, and to seeing people connect with communities that feel right. 


Riding a Bike
July 20, 2006, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It has been 22 years since I rode a bike seriously.

Two months ago, I began the process of rediscovering why I enjoyed riding so much when I was young. Of course this is 3 knee surgeries and a shoulder reconstruction later.

A few days after July 4th I had a chance to ride the same hills in upstate New York that I had trained on 22 years before. Some serious deja vu. The hills in the finger lakes don’t change. The roads don’t change. Even the houses you pass have’t changed much.

Almost everyone I knew when I lived there has moved on, as almost everyone does when they go to school in a place that’s relatively remote, like Ithaca. Kind’ve lonely place to go back to even though so much remains unchanged.


Ithaca and the Finger Lakes
July 17, 2006, 11:30 am
Filed under: Family

Spent the July 4th week with friends and family in the Finger Lakes region of New York. First long stretch of time spent in upstate New York since moving out of Endicott, NY at the end of 1994.

The very best time of year in upstate New York…a season when all the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes is on display. We spent four days near Skaneateles thanks to the hospitality of three generations of the family of our dear friends Deb and Ross Martin. Hadn’t spent July 4th on the lakes since 1985, during my years at Cornell, so it was a nostalgic event.

A visit to Watkins Glen with the kids was a great exploration of geology and nature.

Finished the week with a family reunion of sorts in Ithaca, NY. Attending the wedding of my nephew Daniel and his new bride Frances. The first time that my parents and all their children and grandchildren had gathered since before the birth of my youngest.

Dan and Frances both graduated from Cornell, as did Heidi and I, and within my family, including brother and sisters and their kids, we totalled 7 Cornell degrees and two professorships. But the focus was on the happy couple and their ceremony was beautiful and serene. A hot day, but a clear and sun filled one.

Best wishes for health and happiness to Dan and Frances….