Q and A: Podcasts
February 6, 2006 at 8:47 AM
A few readers suggested the idea of offering a podcast of the interviews or even all of the articles along with the text version. You know, this is a great idea and I would really love to do it. The problem we encountered in doing this is kind of interesting. We approached several podcasting services (yes, you know who I am talking about) and every single one of them were only interested in providing us a space to share our feed but offered next to no help or services in actually creating the feed. This, of course, involves a somewhat well-spoken narrator. Since Digital Web Magazine is a volunteer run free publication getting this kind of talent for peanuts isn't exactly something I see happening any time soon. From there even if we did get someone willing to narrate all of our 2,000 plus word articles each week we'd also need someone to actually produce and edit the audio files. You know, someone to make sure that the levels are right and no pops in the dialog, etc. Not to mention cut out the mistakes and paste in the corrections, etc. Yes, it's a lot of hard work and no one has stepped forward to help us out. We're not audio experts and if this was a simple as a unscripted podcast like you see on most blogs, well, we'd be done by now. Any takers?
Podcasts of the interviews makes sense. I would imagine most of these happen in person or over the phone to begin with, so to record such things would be basic. The audio also doesn't have to be perfect in such an exercise. However, podcasts of articles seems to be a waste of time. A number of articles include references to graphics or code that would be impractical to translate into written word. Further, most of the articles contain links that are as valueable as the article themselves. To only listen to it via podcasting would be selling yourself short of the true value of the article. And if you are going to read it, then why do you need the podcast?
Sean: While I'll hold off comments on the 2nd part of your post, I can say that Interviews are often conducted online via email or IM. Rarely are they conducted in person. We've been lucky enough to get a few interviews done while at conferences such as SXSW Interactive and WebVisions, but it's pretty rare to have an in person interview.
I believe the This Week in Tech crew use Skype to do their podcasts, since most of the cast is spread out across the country (and Canada). Skype or Google Talk could certainly be an option for conducting interviews. And while we're at it, I'd like to throw my name in the hat to edit and produce the audio. Let me know!
Jason: Be careful what you ask for, we may just take you up on that offer. I do agree that this makes sence for interviews, I am still not convinced it makes since for other articles.
Depending on the length of an article, and/or schedule of a visitor - there could be real value to having all your material available in the dictation format that podcasts provide. For sure you'd need to iron out standards for clearly communicating code and link content, but that's half the fun. I'm thinking a 'tear-away' sheet with the notes and annotations for podcast patrons might be of use. BTW - my audio engineering chops are a bit rusty, but I'll join Jason in the hat. I'm probably more comfortable around a 24trk Tascam than a digital console :) but I might even have some 'aspiring voice talent' to do the reading for you. Cheers, and keep up the great site here at DWM.
If you do go down the route of providing podcasts of articles, I cannot see anyone other the author recording them. When I am writing, I am thinking the inflections that I would be making if I were actually speaking the material. I then try to reflect those inflections through the use of bold, italics, and punctuation. But I know that no matter how much of that I do, the way other people will be reading it will be completely different than the way I heard it in my head. So, when I read an article, it is already being "washed" by my brain to sound the way I think the author intended for it to sound. It isn't perfect, but it is from author to reader, which isn't bad. To drop a third party in the middle of that to record the podcast would be putting another wash, separating me even further from the author's original intent.
I agree with Sean's last comment. I wouldn't like my words in an interview to be read aloud by another person. Some things are written to be lightly humorous, for example. If read in a somber tone, the meaning would completely change. And so forth. As someone who has done an interview here and has completed another one that will soon be published, an interview worked on by two people communicating behind the scenes, honing it, and collaborating to make it better (we hope), would be a completely different experience than a sort of live interview that is then made into a podcast. By the way, most of the interviews at Digital Web would end up being, what?, 6 minute podcasts. Is there really a demand for that in the readership, and would the work involved really add that much value? On the other hand, if two people wanted to do an original podcast, and do the work themselves, that's an entirely different question. Someone may want to do it. I just wouldn't make it a requirement that all interviews become podcasts.