The Next Chapter

I promised you last time I’d talk about what’s next for me, so here’s what I’ve been thinking lately.
The end of The Lab did two things (besides killing a pretty heft chunk of my income): it gave me one week a month with nothing to do, and it eliminated my only regular television exposure.

Thanks to Amber, and some work she’s passing my way, I think I’ll be able to mostly replace the income – phew – and I’m sure I can find something to do with the extra time (like make sure all the TWiT shows come out weekly from now on). But what about TV?

Our minor experiments in doing video versions of TWiT have convinced me that audio is the more popular medium. TWiT audio gets many times more downloads than video. That makes sense to me, since people have more time to listen to audio than they do to sit down and watch video. But there’s something about video that captures people’s attention. I’ll go one step further, there’s something about live video that’s very compelling for both viewers and hosts. I’ve missed live TV ever since TechTV went under four years ago, and I’ve been looking for some way to get that excitement back.

If you’ve been watching the impromptu live streams of the Tech Guy radio show, you know they’re very popular and I have a lot of fun doing them. (Tune in TWiT Live Saturday and Sunday from 2-5p Eastern.) So much fun that I’ve expanded the live broadcasts to include some of the netcast tapings including TWiT. We run an IRC chat room at irc.dslextreme.com #techguy during the video and the interactivity adds so much on both sides.

I’ve also been watching what Chris Pirillo has been doing on Ustream and Robert Scoble on Qik, and I have come to believe there’s significant interest in live streaming video.

Towards the end of last year I learned that the downstairs offices in our building would soon be vacant. I’ve always coveted this space. We’re in a quaint old cottage built by a lumber baron at the turn of the century. He paneled the entire downstairs in redwood and it’s gorgeous. We don’t really need the space – right now TWiT is just Dane and me – but I leased it anyway, three days before Rogers cancelled the show. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with the extra space at the time, but my plan now is to turn it into a streaming video studio.

Here’s a quick video tour of the new TWiT Offices. (Yes that’s my Emmy on the mantle – I’m not a complete TV newbie!)

To begin with we’re going to stream everything we do at TWiT, including the production of all our shows, live and interactive. To that end we’re adding considerable bandwidth: a T1 line and a cable modem to our existing DSL connectivity. We’ll Skype over one, stream over another, and reserve the third for surfing, uploads, etc. I’ve also started furnishing the office with antiques – I don’t want this to look like any TV show you’ve ever seen before – and we’re adding lights, cameras, microphones, and computers for video production. We hope everything will be in place and we can begin streaming daily by the end of April.

Don’t worry – the existing TWiT shows will still be available as audio downloads, but soon you’ll be able to watch them being made and interact with them live. Some of the shows may begin to offer video versions, in addition to the existing audio versions. I expect we’ll be sending two to four hours of live video out Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – with five or six hours on the weekends, including the Tech Guy behind the scenes.

And in a month or so I plan to expand the Saturday programming to include a live show, tentatively called TWiT Live, which will be our first official video podcast. We’re still working out how this will be done, but I’m modeling it on the Tom Green show. I think what he’s doing is ground-breaking. Of course it will be entirely tech focused and feature many of the TWiT regulars you already know along with any tech celebrities we can lure to Petaluma with promises of food and wine.

I’m not interested in duplicating existing television models – I want to deconstruct TV and get to something more direct, more intimate, and much more two-way. I haven’t really looked at the business model for this, but fortunately, between my day jobs, existing TWiT advertising (thank you Audible, Astaro, and FIT!), and your generous donations through TWiT.tv we have the money to get this thing off the ground and, I believe, keep it going indefinitely. As Dvorak has always said, and I believe, a business model will emerge. My goal has never been to build an empire, or even a business. I just want to be able to make a living doing what I love: talking about technology with a community of engaged and intelligent people, and perhaps, along the way, to help people understand how to better use technology in their own lives.

So I hope you’ll join me in this grand experiment. It’s only possible because of the large and active TWiT community. Your feedback and participation is all it takes to keep us going. I’m excited about where TWiT is going and I thank you for your support through all these changes. Here’s to the next chapter – I think it’s the most exciting yet.

182 Replies to “The Next Chapter”

  1. Even though I have dial-up and won't be able to watch TWiT Live, I am sure it will be great, and I think you're paving the way for other people to expand outside of TV and into the wonderful world of the Intertubes.It's weird how we're back to audio again, it's like when we first got radio! 😛

  2. Well…this should be interesting to watch and we'll be there every step of the way…Good luck Leo!

  3. WOW! Leo I can hardly wait, been with you since the beginning!This is going to be the best thing since the Screensavers!
    Good Luck, I’ll be watching.
    Jim

  4. Leo, what you are doing sounds fabulous. I can’t wait! With the time difference with the UK, it looks like I may have a few late nights “tuning in”.

  5. Sorry to see that Rogers cancelled the Lab… At least you will still be around on the web..

  6. You're right, Leo, the house is gorgeous. The plans sound exciting on many levels, but I wonder how they will affect your fans here in Australia and elsewhere in the world, in regard to time-zone differences. At the moment I get my daily, weekly, and monthly “tech info fix” via a multitude of downloadable videocasts (commandN, Lab Rats, Digital Underground, dl.tv, Cranky Geeks, WebbAlert, GeekBrief.tv, GigaOm Show, and whatever else I can find) until recently augmented with The Lab, via cable TV. All the videos are downloaded via Miro — a great little program — and I watch them when I have time.I can readily understand that audio podcasts are much more popular — for the reasons you gave — but I actually have more time to watch *and* listen (I'm semi-retired) and I rarely sit at my PC to simply listen to audio, unless it's some fine music, of course. 🙂 Just some thoughts from an idle Aussie.All the best with the new stuff — I'm sure it'll be terrific.

  7. Sounds like a great idea Leo, especially twit live on saturday mornings. i havent had any shows to look forward to then in quite some time.

  8. This is definitely the way to go, Leo; good luck with it. If you don’t mind a suggestion, I think it might be important that you have some kind of set schedule, at least some of the time, so viewers will know when they can see something happening, and it sounds like you’ve thought of this to some extent. For me, though, I also like the idea of just “tuning in” (we need new frames of reference along with new media) and seeing what you might be up to at a given moment. Don’t lose the spontaneous aspect, otherwise you’re just CBS with smaller cameras. Will the streaming shows be archived also, in case we want to catch up?

  9. Leo – fantastic. Will the video be archived, though, for those of us not able to catch the live feed?

  10. I was thrilled when you started mentioning the Twit Live show in your various audio shows. I’ve seen the Tom Green show a few times, and you’re correct in saying that the “live” aspect is very compelling. Personally, I believe your show will be very popular, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it became more watched than The Lab was.
    I have a couple questions for you:
    1) How high are the ceilings in your new studio?
    2) Who is going to create the studio for you (lights, sound, etc.)? Are you doing it yourself, or getting your production posse involved?
    Like I said, I’m very excited about what you’re doing. I’ve been producing a number of short video tutorials for a while. It takes a lot of time, but in the end, it’s absolutely worth it.
    Can you believe that we can do this type of thing from our homes?
    Welcome to the future!

  11. Leo this is great! I am one of the few that really prefer video. I am a visual learner and I just love listening AND watching you guys discuss the week’s topics.
    Best of luck with the new endeavors…next time I’m in Petaluma, I’ll bring my sign!

  12. Wow!, this looks awesome. Leo, I highly recommend you watch the “news” section of a Season 10 episode of Top Gear on BBC2. You can get it from http://www.finalgear.com. They have a awesome on screen relaxed yet informative and fun way of covering the news. Also, they sit in high-backed chairs, similiar to what I imagined when I first heard you talk about TWiT Live being like this. Here is a link to what I am talking about, if you could recreate that type environment, minus the huge audience, you would have programming gold.

  13. Leo have only recently started listening (via iPhonePodcaster) but really enjoy the MacBreak podcasts, as Mark commented i’m in the UK i’d need to catch it later.

  14. Leo – Basically anything with you’re in it makes it 10 times more enjoyable to listen to or watch. I especially look forward to my quality Leo time sitting on the lawn mower a couple of time a week in the summer 🙂
    Good luck with the new chapter. We’ll be listening in Northern Ireland as usual!
    M.

  15. Hi Leo,
    Looks great! Can’t wait to see some video. Wasn’t there an indie game developer below you? Did they fold?

  16. Great work Leo. I have been looking forward to this as soon as you first mentioned it. The offices look terrific, and this will definitely add to the uniqueness of your new venture!
    This is another step in your evolution of delivering media, and perhaps the most exciting yet. Your fans can hardly wait…We all wish you the best of luck!

  17. I am so excited for you Leo. Can’t wait for the shows to start. Amber has no reason not to visit now!

  18. I’ve really been impressed with what start-ups, comprised of passionate people who love what they do, are doing. I have been excited to hear about what you’ve been saying in the podcasts about a live twit. I honestly believe that this could be another network that helps move new media forward, and that the twit network and revision3 are two huge steps towards recreating the way we get entertainment and news, as well as from whom we get them.

  19. Leo, I have no doubt at all that in a few years the “death” of the Lab will be as providential for you as was the “death” of TechTV.
    We live in a time now where we can simply fire the people between us and the audience who don’t get and/or support our vision. Exciting times indeed.
    And whereas in two years I predict the same revenue from this as you got from The Lab, think of the hundred of hours of your life you get back that you once spent on airplanes.
    Only good times ahead.
    What a thrill to watch them.
    And, now apparently, we’ll be watching them live.
    Paul Colligan

  20. Leo,
    I have been waiting for you to do something like this for a long time. Can’t wait to see the show and the evolution of online video in your hands.

  21. Leo things are looking great. I thank you for your dedication to your fans and the desire to offer a great learning experience. I wish you all the best and you can count on my support all the way around!

  22. Leo, your TWiT Network has been in inspiration to podcasters, broadcasters, bloggers, and enthusiasts from all corners of the interweb. (Yes I said Interweb.) Us podcasters look to TWiT as a benchmark of what makes a great podcast, and seeing TWiT evolve is an exciting step forward. Best of luck in this new initiative, and I believe most podcasters and tech journalists will agree with me when I say that we’re behind you 100%.

  23. Leo, I want to see up stairs, the Current Twit studio. Would you mind filming around up stairs because that house is very interesting and I love Twit like the brother I never had.

  24. I’d be really surprised if this becomes a big thing. People I know want to control the content they want, and that means choosing when they want to watch/listen, not be told to tune in at a certain time. Also, is there mass appeal to watch stuff on the computer? I don’t think so – people still want to watch TV-like content on the TV while sitting on their sofa, not hunched over a desk.
    Good luck though, Leo.

  25. Congratulations Leo on your new space and looking forward to seeing TWIT Live.
    I worked with Tom Green back in the mid-90s at our local cable station (Rogers, in fact), where he first broke new ground and he’s a terrific model to follow.
    He understands new media and content delivery, as do you, and I envision only wild success for both of you!
    Best of luck. I’ll be watching!

  26. I really think some big things are ahead for you… Good Luck and more importantly, have fun with this! That will make everything you do worth it.

  27. Leo,Excited for you, and excited to watch. I’ve enjoyed your work since the early days of the Screen Savers, and appreciate you have kept reinventing yourself as the medium has changed.

  28. Awesome space that you have, I can’t wait to see some video from there. You and Tom are true pioneers of net video and we collectively thank you for your time and financial investment in bringing us infotainment.

  29. Love it, Leo!
    My husband (retired broadcaster) and I (retired print journalist) have been fans since the Stuart Cheifet/Computer Chornicles days.
    The place looks fabulous and I think you may be ahead of your time (what’s new?), but the rest of the world will catch up.
    BTW, your office table is exactly like our dining table, so we’ll feel right at home watching your roundtable discussions.
    Good luck. Enjoy Tasmania (I recall the thrill of find the course listing for the Univ. Of Tasmania in the days before the Internet was the web, so have wanted to go there myself.)

  30. Wow Leo, I know it’s been said countless times before but I’m going to say it again, that bottom office with full wood paneling is gorgeous. And looking at it now, it creates a great dissonance. The room and furniture is all 19th and 20th century while the show and discussions will be about 21st century technology.
    Keep what you’re doing!

  31. Two words: Kate Botello.
    You need her on your first show as a good luck charm.

  32. It must be very gratifying to have wonderful friends like Amber during this transition.
    Best of luck with your latest project!

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