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.
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.