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. As someone who’s been involved in video/audio productions of various types over the years, I have to say that i truly admire what you do. You’ve found the niche you belong in, and you go for it. Kudos to you.
    I personally love what you do, and am an avid fan of your netcast network. I wish you the best of luck in all that you do, and I will be along for the ride, even if my part is simply in consuming your products, and spreading the word about them.
    Thank you for all that you do, and keep up the good work. We all appreciate it more than you know

  2. Just another old guy who started watching you when Tech Tv first started up. I used to love Screen Savers with you and Patrick. When Tech TV disappeared, I just kinda lost touch. Last fall, I decided to pick up an Ipod Touch and once I got familiar with Itunes, I found all of your podcasts and have been enjoying them ever since. I look forward to the new shows once they come out and loading them onto the Touch.
    I watched your video of the new space and by the looks and sounds of it, the future seems bright and full of promise. It is definately a great looking space and it will be fun to watch the integration of the old surroundings with all of the new technology. What a great way for an old building to continue its life!

  3. G’day from Australia. I hear ‘Labs’ was too basic for the tech audience that wanted to watch the show. That’s all I can tell you.
    I’ve often wished you could stripe the screen with everybody’s web cams for TWiT (stills, even) – or maybe do a Celebrity Squares format. Challenge Alex and the Pixels to write you a plug-in so you can do it live. Probably won’t stop Andy twittering during a podcast, though. And let’s face it – do we want to? Probably add visual appeal seeing everyone do their laundry…
    I’ve become an occasional Cranky Geeks viewer (when there’s enough Apple content) because I crave SOME video. Not all the time, but when there’s suitable CONTENT – like the time you brought the OLPC onto Crankys – that really lifted the show! A few seconds hands on explains SO much.
    I’d like a very short TWiT Video with strong visual/hands-on, 10-20 min. We’ll eagerly listen to 1or2 hours of audio, but most don’t have time for long videos, unless the visual content is highly compelling.
    I like the 10 min. Pitch concept. Let the people come in and demo – LeoSTYLE. Maybe you can make that into advertising LeoSTYLE – Friends sitting ’round a table showing off a favourite new thing. How about pulling things apart to see the guts??
    The live-feed doesn’t suit those of us on the other side of the planet. Nor does it fit the ‘consume the podcast when you have time’ concept.
    So many US business models rely on unlimited downloads, which don’t apply in the rest of the world. It seems your ISPs and Telcos won’t tolerate other businesses taking advantage of their largesse much longer, either.
    Best wishes for the future. Sounds great!

  4. This looks great Leo! I hope it works out for you and I would still like to volunteer to help as I mentioned in chat. I live in Napa (This wine country is fantastic) and would love to help out as I am close by.

  5. Hi Leo,
    Thanks for posting the video, I can’t wait till your shows from the C Inn start…. my Ex’s parents owned the Inn as a B&B and it was cool to see it again.
    Leo I know your going with an antique look but don’t forget some art for the walls, might be a nice contrast….and I’m not just saying that because I’m an artist… It’s always over looked.

  6. You have a knack for knowing your audience Leo, and I think you are absolutely right. There is ‘something’ about live TV and interacting with your audience that can’t be replicated from a taped show. During CFH early on and TSS there was a tangible sense of community around the broadcast – we all felt like we were watching and learning, and teaching each other, together. What Rev3 has tried to do is admirable, but I think it is the live element which is missing that has kept me from having any of the same feelings about their productions as I did about TSS. I’m excited about your new venture and hope it has much success.

  7. On another note – I hope that the live streams will be in flash, so they are accessible to all of us on all platforms. DLTV was a nice idea, but WM streaming only? C’mon. 🙂 I want you on my TV, not my PC. If you keep things in Flash, we can see you where we like – through our PS3 or Xbox on the TV etc. Keep that in mind. 🙂

  8. Good luck from Australia Leo,
    You have a big following down here and i was very saddened to hear of your shows demise, but thats the TV industry isnt it, nothing last forever (except the Simpsons and that show jumped the Shark a good 10 years ago)
    I truly think that in 10 years time TV as we know it will be compleatly re-defined by on-demand ip style broadcasting and live-internet stuff and you have been one of its pioneers…
    all the best mate.

  9. I like the advertising model that John D. is using, ads that are targeted to things we might care about. I like the way he breaks away so as not to give the impression that he endorses the product. This should get you more advertisers. I hate the Paul Harvey style because you don’t really believe every time that he cares about the product, even though we know you do.
    Also how about ad free versions and early release for those who contribute at least 2 dollars a month.

  10. I have to say Leo, that upon some reflection about it, you’ll probably find that the ending of your show was the best thing that could have happened to you. It finally frees you from that mindset, and allows you to really experiment with some new and groundbreaking things!
    I personally am REALLY looking forward to TWIT Live, and chances are I’ll be purchasing an AppleTV soon enough because the volume of really good quality video podcasts has been doing nothing but going up. Yours will undoubtedly be one of the first I subscribe to. Good luck with everything!
    A toast to the future!
    –Justin

  11. I look forward to your lifecast in the redwood room. I would like to webcam you into my mogulus show sometime. It’s live on Thursdays from 3pm ET.
    Check out Mogulus on http://pop17.com/live and notice the green screen? You can do this with cam twist and put websites behind you. Do you like that idea?
    Will you syndicate it via camtasia to all other platforms like ustream and stickam? please let me know so i may subscribe or know how to get it.

  12. what a beautiful space…the juxtaposition of slick new tech and old world charm should make for much more compelling video than the uber manufactured plastic and fiberglass sets common to TV production. Best of luck.I look forward to seeing TWIT live.

  13. Leo, 2 words, “DO IT!”
    I’m sure a lot of TWiT listeners will tune in to watch. I’m GMT+8 and I’m watching something from GMT-8! Take a look at the time gap in between. Hope you get to kick it off in a big way. And maybe recycle some parts from your TV show and guests. Loved Ray Maxwell’s segments that I managed to grab from The Lab’s page. Good LUCK!

  14. Brilliant! Once again Leo you remember your audience. I’ve been a fan of yours and Ambers ever since Call for Help and I’m glad that you will be bringing back the live portion to the video. You are right, it does add excitement to the show and it brings the community and interaction back into the production. Instead of just watching we can interact once again.
    See you there!

  15. Hi Leo, your new offices look spectacular and I’m really looking forward to your new live video shows. Looks like it’s going to mean some late nights for me over here in the UK.Good luck with your new venture, if the quality of your new shows is anything like that of your current output you’ll be on to a winner.

  16. I have been a fan since the days of The Site (“let me explain push technology”). I spend more time listening to you on my iPod, than my thousands of dollars of music.
    Now, I am hoping you will fill up my Apple TV.

  17. I guess Leo I started watching you in my late 20’s over on Tech TV.
    Tech TV replaced MTV/VH-1 as being the default channel that was on in the house for background noise and watching while doing other things. When TWIT launched on podcast I was very excited to see the Tech TV alumni back. Your pod casts where amazingly well done from an audio perspective and had great content. I became a subscriber…. Heck eventually I even became an audible subscriber as well figured if it was good enough for you guys it had to be cool.
    Anyway now in my late 30’s, I barely have enough time to sit down and catch an episode of Dexter let alone watch TV. But I have all this time in my car driving to work that is unused and thats when I listen to TWIT and Net@Night and Mac Break Weekly. While I have an apple TV and a half a dozen computers I just don’t have the time to watch video casts. There’s a whole mess of podcasts I just don’t watch as there either done for video or both formats and I’m OCD enough to just not listen to them if there produced for video. Unfortunately I am not ADD enough to watch video and work at the same time, not if i want to retain anything from the video that is. But driving and listening works great.
    Anyway long post, short statement… Please don’t forget the loyal listeners who like the sweet radio voice and are not to worried about the video.
    Great work over the years Leo….

  18. Just updated my monthly donation from 5 to 10 dollars.
    Keep up the great work Leo and looking forward to the future!

  19. Congratulations on the exciting changes, Leo. I’ll be watching these developments for two reasons. First, because your work is entertaining. And second, because public broadcasters need to find a way to follow in your footsteps. We need to be engaging, live, focused on a community and interactive in ways we’ve never been before. You’re blazing a trail I hope we in public media can follow.
    Best wishes!
    –John

  20. In regards to the planned Saturday TWiT Live video show, Thierry Ardisson has been doing something similar (although not tech related) in France since 2003. The show is called “93 Faubourg Saint-Honoré” (which is his address), and airs on Paris Première. Each episode is a dinner party at his house, with famous guests from all areas of French society, that is filmed and then aired as a talkshow. They just sit around, eating, drinking and chatting.
    There are lots of clips from this show on Daily Motion:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/93%2BFaubourg%2BSaint-Honor%25C3%25A9
    Who knows, it might give you some ideas about how to go about putting together your show…

  21. If you’re curious about other turn of the century lumber baron’s houses ( for decorating ideas), look here: http://www.muskegonmuseum.org/hackley_tour.asp
    Hackley & Hume were Lumber partners, they have beautiful houses in Muekegon, Michigan, that are still standing today and are available for touring. If you are looking for a decorating reference, this is a pretty good one. You can probably search Flickr for more photos of these houses.. The foyer of the Hackley house is breath-taking.
    Leo, there isn’t really anyone else on the web, or the TV talking about Tech like you do. I love the TWIT network, and I can’t wait for what’s next. Thanks for making a network that geeks like me can enjoy and learn about all things technology.

  22. You space looks fantastic, and I’m really excited by your planned innovations.
    My only concern is that some of us are outside the US, and on slower internet connections. I hope I don’t get left out of the party too much 🙂

  23. Leo, I love this idea! To “deconstruct TV” is such a great thing. I can’t wait for this. I think this is the way of the future.
    What about getting this on the TiVo downloads?
    All the best!
    – Rick

  24. Love all the stuff you do Leo. My wife and I loved call for help, and I listen to most of your podcast from Itunes as I drive to work. As I am down in Aust, getting your live stream may be a tad hard, but iam sure as hell will download what ever I can, of your future shows.Have a good trip In Tassie in april, make sure you have a steak at the old ball and chain resturant in Hobart when you get there.

  25. Late for as usual but WOW!
    What do they say,”From defeat,another chance”. I just made that up but it looks like a great opportunity direct from Leoville.
    Leo as long as I have a job you have my backing.
    With that new space I suggest a pipe,slippers and a sweater and a cozy cup of tea.
    Onward and upward!
    ger

  26. I like many don’t have the time to watch you live, but could occasionally watch you on-demand – an after-the-fact vidcast. An audio podcast of each show would even be more convenient as I always have time to listen while driving.
    Is there really several hours worth of technology content you could come up with each day?
    I would personally like to listen/optionally watch a daily 30-minute tech news round-up combined with commentary by yourself and other TWiT hosts and guests – similar to Buzz Out Loud.
    Off to making a contribution to your new endeavors… Keep up the good work.

  27. Sorry about the Lab Leo. I for one watched every show in Australia and was devastated when it was stopped. I will be following what I can on the web, maybe not the live streams time differences do get in the way, but keep the netcasts coming. Listened to many on my runs, working in the camera van etc.

  28. Leo, I’ve always enjoyed listening and watching your shows since the old ZDTV. I couldn’t help but notice I couldn’t see anyone else ask this, so I will (since it seems obvious to me). Have you considered the possibility of a partnership of TWiT.tv and revision3. This would seem to me to be a win-win (I so hate to use that phrase…) They could certainly use your screen presence, sense of humor and your experience. Anyway, just a thought….

  29. London Calling!!
    Good Luck Leo – can’t wait for twit live!
    …but get the show on the road i say!!
    Leo’s World Tour!
    Go out and meet your Twit army!!

  30. Loved the video.I’ve just worried a bit for the wear of the space if you’ve got a lot people coming over , cables of the floor, equipment, etc. 🙂
    In fact the first thing I thought about when you mentioned people standing out the window was, “no, the grass!” 🙂

  31. Do it, Leo! We’re all really looking forward to this.
    I just twittered this post. I’m really excited about this. Perhaps it was all building up to this all along.
    And Jim Hassinger has a good point, it’s going to be a challenge to light that place. In fact, Jim really seems to know his stuff, why isn’t he linking to his site? A man so knowledgeable should share his knowledge on a webness of some kind.
    But, I’m sure with Alex’s help, you’ll be able to tweak the light so it looks good. This is gonna be great!

  32. What a great environment to to launch your new business venture! I’m very impressed and look forward to tuning in as soon as you kick it off. I always wanted a law office like your office. Ah, twas not to be. Perhaps you can throw out a few legal terms at times in keeping with the atmosphere of your studio that certainly lends itself to deep thoughts on Geekdom and everything related thereto! Thanks and Best of Luck!

  33. Congrads on the new place will we see you come out in a red smoking jacket and the the Masterpeice theatre theme music. You should Leo this would be allot of fun. Actually Leo your the only fun techy I’ve heard everyone who I have met in my 28 years in tech are a bit stuffy. Like when I make a joke to a techy they try to dechiper the joke. I still say I should have been a plumber!! hahaha! have fun down in Australia, and when you go head to Darling harbour if you get lonely for americian things because thats the tourest place in sydney.

  34. I can’t wait for this I actually canceled my cable tv a few months ago as in my opinion there is really no point anymore with so many of my favorite tech personalities moving to video shows on the internet. Revision 3 has tided me over for a long time but Leo this is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I know this is going to go great and look forward to continue to support your network.

  35. Maybe with some of your newly found “free” time you would consider using that velvety voice of yours to do VOICEOVERS!
    If you are interested, we would like to offer you representation in our markets, which is Canada and primarily the Toronto area.
    Visit http://www.voxtalent.com to learn about us; VOX TALENT – Canada’s Non Union Voiceover Talent Agency and/or send me an email to info@voxtalent.com or call 416.410.4700 / 877.410.4700.
    All the best Leo, hope to “HEAR” from you soon!
    Dan Sandor
    Voice Agent
    VOX TALENT INC
    Canada’s Non Union Voiceover Agency

  36. Well, you’ve got my donation. I know it might sound silly, but hearing you thank your donating viewers at the beginning of every podcast really made me decide it was a good idea. Good luck.

  37. I am here today because of an idea I had, of course, I watched all the episodes of The Screen Savers and even before that, I used to watch ZDtv, the precursor of TechTV, once TechTV became G4 a radical change took place, the channel became worthless, I love everything related to technology and especially, computer technology, but I hate games, thus; my comment about G4 and I suspect I’m not alone.
    Now the idea I had, I am planning to contact CNN in order to suggest a segment where all the millions of people interested on computer technology could find at least one hour a day of entertainment related to something now most of the people (at least in the U.S.) have, computers.
    Besides, since computer technology changes regularly (in hardware & software), you would never be lacking of any interesting stuff .
    To begin, they could introduce two hours of this idea on saturdays.
    CNN must understand that to talk about the same thing for many hours a day gets very monotonous, usually none watches CNN all day and it is because of this repetitious scheme, I have my choice of daily CNN watching, among those is one in which Erika Hill appears, Anderson Cooper 360, does the name Erika Hill sound familiar? Does it? Uh? It does? 😮
    I know. 🙂
    I hope they consider this idea at CNN, and I hope you accept the job Leo, you will, yes?

  38. Finally, video!! I used to watch the video you did of twit in the beginning. I for one think it’s all about the video. Do me a favor if this thing works, grab all the other guys and make em’ all do their shows on your network. It drives me crazy that all you old tech tv guys are spread out over the network. I just want one dominant tech tv station where I can go and find all the shows I want to see. I don’t like jumping around to different sites. I know it isn’t hard to do so but it bothers me. It also bothers me that you’ve got all you guys on different sites doing similar shows. How many tech discussion and review programs can you have? One of you guys needs to bring it all together. Anyway, good luck.. I hope it works out.

  39. Good luck on your new endeavor Leo!Although I am your long time listener I don’t think that I will be watching much of your netcasts. I listen to your netcasts because of information I can get from them. So if you want to tempt me into watching your netcasts you must provide additional information that can’t be provided by audio, like Steve Gibson’s graphs for example.

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