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.

MacWorld Expo

MacWorld Expo is coming up January 15-18 and we’re planning to do several shows from the convention hall including MacBreak Weekly and TWiT. Save the date.

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CES is the week before and I’m happy to say I will be skipping that monster of a show for the third year in a row. I was thinking of doing the radio show from there until I found out that for the first time CES would not be open on the weekend. Just as well. It’s an almost impossible conference to cover on-site (and I’ll be getting back from a family trip to Egypt the day before anyway).

The Race Begins

sputnik.jpgSputnik was launched on this day 50 years ago, beginning the space race.
And there’s a more personal anniversary for me. It was on this day, three years ago, that I created my first podcast: an RSS feed of episodes of my radio show.

You can read my post about it here. We’ve come a long way in three years!

Zunes Now Support Podcasts

Zune.net | Home - Welcome to the Social.jpgMicrosoft has launched its new Zunes and lo and behold they support podcasts! And there will be a firmware update to the old Zunes which will presumably add podcasts to the menu there too.
It’s about time! I’ve never been happier to have been proven wrong. (Just in case you’re keeping score I thought the word “podcast” would never appear on a Microsoft product.)

Don’t Call It A Podcast

I’m so sad that I can’t make it to Podcast Expo this weekend due to schedule conflicts, but if I were there here’s something I’d want to talk about with my fellow podcasters.
In my keynote last year I warned that the name “podcast” was a problem. Not only is the word “pod” closely associated with Apple’s iPod in the minds of listeners, but I also felt, somehow, that the name itself is slightly demeaning. Now, a year later, I think I’ve pinpointed what made me so uneasy about the word “podcast.” It’s become clear to me that there is no such thing as podcasting!

Technically, a podcast is audio or video enclosed in an RSS feed. It’s the RSS feed that magically turns audio or video into a podcast, but why do we focus on the RSS? You don’t distinguish a blog from its RSS feed. There’s no “blogcast.” You talk about radio shows and TV shows, but no one who does a radio show says they do a “radio.”

Podcasts don’t exist separately from their content.

I create shows that are distributed on the Internet via download, Flash, and, oh yeah, RSS, but it’s the show that’s the thing. By focusing on the RSS we’ve confused people and limited our audience. Even the word I suggested last year, “netcast,” doesn’t serve. It’s a show, period. It doesn’t matter how it’s distributed. It’s all just content. Tying the content to its method of distribution is confusing our audience and holding us back.

Words are powerful. Using the right words about what you do is important. It helps you understand what you’re up to and it helps the audience understand what you offer. The word podcasting worked for us in the beginning, but it doesn’t work any more.

I am not a podcaster. I’m a journalist, a pundit, an entertainer. I create audio and video shows and distribute them over the Internet. Maybe that’s YouTube, maybe it’s my own web site, maybe it’s via an RSS feed. The medium isn’t the message – the message is the message. It’s not a podcast, it’s a show, and I plan to call my shows by the right name from now on.

Fellow podcasters, and podcast listeners, what do you think?

Have fun at PME this weekend. I’m with you in spirit!

(On a side note, I’m writing this in the Vancouver airport. It’s not a good idea to blog while eating a Cinnabon®. I need a Handiwipe!)

TWiT Update

Don’t bug me. Dane has the day off and I’ve got to get TWiT 113 and The Tech Guy 388 out the door before I go home. Oh yeah, and Munchcast 7! It’s been a long time since I had to burn the midnight oil editing TWiT. It really makes me appreciate Dane’s help, and the TWiT donors that made Dane’s salary possible!
Amber was back tonight and we recorded a new net@nite. There were some technical issues during recording so the Talkshoe version won’t sound so hot for the first 15-20 minutes. The podcast will be fine – that comes out on TWiT.tv Tuesday.

gone-fishin.jpgAfter recording, Amber and I talked about our grueling schedules. She pointed out that most TV shows don’t go continuously. They’ll end their seasons, take some time off to refresh, then come back for a new season. She suggested that maybe we should do that with netcasts, too.

I certainly would welcome some time off – but the idea of going into hiatus with our shows scares me, too. I think most people want and expect the show to be there every week. It’s part of their routine. I’d be afraid that people would forget us if we took a month or so off every year (not all at once mind you, but one netcast at any given time). As listeners what do you think?

To Do List

Things to do tomorrow:
1. Fix last week’s Jumping Monkeys (there’s stray audio at the end)
2. Edit and post this week’s Jumping Monkeys
3. Edit and post Saturday’s Tech Guy
4. Edit and post Munchcast
5. Record Cali for today’s radio show
6. Do the radio show
7. Edit and post the radio show
8. Record TWiT (better get a panel together now!)
9. Record net@nite
10. Collapse

Oh yeah, and I better call Shooby and make things right there, too.

Be Mine

Della Fattoria Cookies
TWiT is going up at one minute past midnight Monday morning (I’m holding it a little longer than usual because Dvorak revealed some news that’s embargoed until then). I also have a new FLOSS Weekly and this WEEK in LAW to post this week. Monday I’ll post a visit to the actual Gadget Warehouse, recorded when I was with Dick DeBartolo in Manhattan last week.

Before I left on vacation I had a great conversation with the people at Vox. I’ve been looking for a web backend for the new Tech Guy radio show. The wiki I’m using now just doesn’t offer the social networking features I’m looking for. Thanks to Anil Dash and the folks at Six Apart I think I’m moving to Movable Type /Typepad (not sure which right now) with a new design from Apperceptive. We’ll continue to use the wiki until that’s done.

I’m also commissioning a theme song from the great Ashley Witt. Ash has done so many of the TWiT themes including Doin’ the TWiT.

The show launches in one week – I’ll have a final list of affiliates soon.

Testing Testing

We just ran a short test on Talkshoe in preparation for the launch of our new TWiTcast: net@nite with Amber MacArthur. I was very impressed by the sound quality and interactivity. This is going to be fun!

This is the user interface. You can listen to the show and chat with other listeners live from the Talkshoe site, or call in (a long distance call unless you live in Pittsburgh) to participate. The stream and resulting recording on the Talkshoe site will be telephone quality.

I am also recording locally and that high-quality recording will be available on the net@nite podcast feed (http://leo.am/podcasts/itn) the following Tuesday.


Just so you can hear the difference, you can hear the local Talkshoe recording (identical to the stream) on the

net@nite talkshoe page. The local version that will go onto the podcast is here:

So Long Suckah

My last reason for using Windows might just have been eliminated.

I use Adobe Audition for all my netcast recording and editing. It’s a Windows program but there’s no Mac version. Paul Figgiani just tipped me that Adobe has announced a new audio editing program for Windows and… ta da OS X. (Intel Macs only, though – that’s the first Intel only program for OS X I’ve seen and that doesn’t bode well for PowerPC owners.)

The free beta of Soundbooth is available now. Soundbooth has the familiar Audition interface, but it looks like they’re positioning it as the “easy to use” Audition. One key feature missing from the beta is multitrack recording and mixing. I really need that, but there are many folks who don’t. The “remove a sound” feature pictured above is a simple interface to Audition’s powerful spectral analysis tool. You’ll find simplified versions of other sound tools like reverb and compression, too. I’d guess this is really “Audition Elements” by another name, but it will probably be a good choice for quick editing and single track recording. The kind of thing most podcasters need. If Adobe can price it under $100 it will do very well indeed.Of course I knew this would happen because I just spent $1000 on Bias Peak Pro a couple of weeks ago.