Wednesday, December 3, 2008

PODCASTS : The Web 2.0 Medium

Society today has changed from the way it was 100 years ago, and 10 years ago, and even 5 years ago. This fast pace advancement is mainly driven by the powerful entity of technology that we’ve had incorporated into our world and lifestyles. Technology has brought us to the home computer, the motion picture camera, cell phone, and the World Wide Web. Who would have thought the day would come where all of those devices were available on the same piece of equipment that fits comfortably in our front pocket. This evolution of technology and introduction to the study of nano-technology is referred to as digital convergence. This convergence is referring to the digitalization of our media, and the unification of our converged devices, converged networks, and converged applications.

The best example of this process is the new media phenomenon of Podcasts and Podcasting. What is it? Podcasting refers to the distribution of an audio or video digital media file over the internet, which can then be downloaded to a personal computer, and further, to a portable media player. What separates this from other digital media formats which stream the same content or make it available for download, is a Podcast’s syndication, and subscription, which allows for it to automatically download when new content is added from the host. The word ‘Pod-Cast’ was coined from the words ‘Ipod’ and ‘Broadcast’, with the Apple Ipod being the first portable media player in which the first podcasting scripts were developed. These scripts allowed the web feeds to be automatically transferred to the mobile device after downloaded onto the personal computer. The term Podcast has been redefined since the advent of mobile devices on the market, other than the Ipod, which were able to synchronize podcast feeds as well. Today, many refer to Podcasts as ‘Personal On Demand BroadCasting’.

Like some other Web 2.0 technologies, Podcasts were born out of some other experimental digital services designed something else. The funny thing is that Podcasting was actually conceptualized before Web 2.0 theory or the World Wide Web. As early as the 80’s, the RCS(Radio Computing Services) provided music and talk related software to radio stations in a digital format. Educational and Research institutes would use the Mbone multicast network to distribute audio and video files. After the rise of home computers in the early to mid 90’s, websites and jukeboxes provided systems for sorting and selecting music and audio files, and offered subscriptions to audio services.

The popularity and the eventual discontinuation of Napster, the free software which aggregated music while bypassing the service subscription, is what brought the development of downloaded music to a critical mass. This is brought on a rush in the manufacturing of MP3 services and players by many companies. Today, Podcasting is mostly done with the XML based RSS syndicated aggregate format, but these outdated MP3 services are a close precursor. Some of these include the Compaq companies 1999 music download system Pocket DJ, launched as a service for their Personal Jukebox, the first hard disk based MP3 player. The 12Go company, makers of the eGo mp3 player, introduced their digital news service in 1999,, offering daily audio news feeds which could be downloaded to any mp3 player.

“Open the Pod bay door! Ha!” This famous line from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey(1968)was all freelance copyrighter Vinnie Chieco thought of when Apple showed him their prototype for their new line of MP3 players and software. Apple’s original Ipod line played a variety of audio file formats, and later the Ipod photo introduced the ability to display JPEG, and other image file formats. Although with restrictions on dimensions, encoding and data rate, the third and fourth generations of Ipod Classic, and the Ipod Nano held the capability to play MPEG-4 and Quicktime Video formats. The only hump Apple had to hurdle over to fully take over the market is to bring in the PC demographic. Itunes second generation model software launched with a Windows version with a converter for WMA format, making Itunes compatible with their rival Microsoft. This made Itunes and the Ipod, the standard tool for portable digital media. During this era of digital convergence we also saw the birth of blogs, and the expressing of opinions of the common citizen became a commodity to the net world. It wasn’t long until the blogging went audio, broadcasting via RSS, dawning the beginning of Amateur Digital Radio.

How exactly do you make a podcast? We’ll for starters, relatively anybody savvy with computers and audio equipment is capable of making their own Podcasts to be fed to the web, and made available for subscription and download. All that is needed is a computer, a microphone, and a website in which to post your cast. Also, a program capable of recording voice is required, something as basic as Windows Media Player, to the more sophisticated software like ePodcast Creator or Audacity 1.2.3. These programs allow you to modify the sound in which you record. Next of course, is your idea, what you have to say whether it be a story, a how to, or your views and opinions on whatever topic at hand. Lastly, upload your MP3 file to your website. To reach larger audiences, you can publish your audio file as an enclosure on blogging websites like our very own, or share them on large scale sites like or

Like all technological innovations, the questions commonly and appropriately raised for podcasts are why to do it? How did this become such a popular form of Media? What are the advantages and benefits for those who subscribe to podcasts, as well as for those who broadcast them and feed them to the web? For starters, Podcasts are a user based technology which gives the average person a chance to hear, see, and appreciate the vision, views, and content of other net users, who have something either educational, or entertaining to offer.

Podcasts were popularized for the common net users from out of the blogosphere, which we have discussed in great length and which I am a part of right now. The last decade has brought on a considerable change in the media sources in which people receive their news. We as a society have come to appreciate the convenience of the Internet, as well as the freedom to personally deliver news and express ones view, as well as see the views and expressions of others. The word podcast stuck to the new medium after Ben Hammersley’s coined the phrase in an article of The Guardian, in reference to the surge in amateur internet radio. "...all the ingredients are there for a new boom in amateur radio. But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?(2004)"

The convergence of Podcasts has come into our lives at the same pace that the blogging world has, and is simply a continuation of our democratization of society through the online community. Aaron Barlow(2008) discusses this in his book Blogging America, in relation to consumer control in mass or popular culture, that it was inevitable for consumers to eventually take an increased, more active role in the consumption of their products(pg. 116). Consumers have grown tired of the same old broadcasted media content controlled by large corporations. Podcast, unlike other Web 2.0 applications like Youtube or flickr, was designed out of and for convenience. However, what it has done, like the other Web 2.0 technologies, has unified the world and brought people together on personal and entertaining levels.

Take for instance this article by Scott Sigler published in the November 2008 edition of Writer. Scott Sigler was a struggling author, who’s novels had been rejected well over 100 times by publishers. Throwing the publishing industry a serious curveball, Sigler decided why not just give the things away? Using a $200 microphone, and a $300 mixer running into a Mac, Sigler recorded his novel into audio chapters, later editing out any stoppages or mess ups. Earthcore, a horror/thriller, was released in 2005 in 21 weekly chapters, running 30 to 45 minutes long. By the books end, he had 10,000 people listening, and a print deal with Dragon Moon Press. Sigler’s audience grew to 30,000 a week with his second novel Ancestorin 07, but it was when the book went to press that it reached No. 7on the charts without Sigler spending a penny on PR or advertising. By the time he finished Infected this year, Sigler had a bidding war for the right to publish, and was signed to a 3 book deal with Crown.

What happened? How did a man with over 100 rejection letters after 15 years of submissions and conferences have a bestseller and a book contract? “I had made a connection with an audience. These people listened to my voice and stories weekly, developing a connection that went far beyond me simply reading aloud to them. They heard about my hopes and frustrations. They interacted with me via blog posts, e-mails, instant messaging, and even voice mails that I'd put into the podcast. The podcast meant I wasn't just another author; I was a friend who wrote good books. And those books were exactly the kind of stories my regular listeners wanted to hear--they created fans who wanted to help me succeed (pg. 14)

Better than fictional novels for free, Podcasts offer free education and information. For instance, a site like, offers offer 1,500 lessons on how to read and speak the Chinese language. EPN, the Education Podcast Network, bring together a wide range of educational podcast programming under one forum, to help teachers looking for content to teach with and about. site navigates to the link for Apple-Education providing to you thousands of educational podcasts from K-12, and higher educational content.

The last thing which must be discussed is how Podcasted Media has changed and affected the bigger market companies and media conglomerates. Today, Podcasts have shifted from being an additional commodity for some networks websites, to a professional necessity for all. All the major news networks across America, such as CNN, ESPN, and MSNBC, hold thousands of web feeds on their sites, and offer daily and exclusive podcasts from the majority of shows and anchors. ABC and NBC have a link to ‘Mobile’ on the homepage bringing you to downloadable episodes of your favorite shows. These networks also web feed deleted scenes, outtakes, mini episodes and cast interviews. Newspaper companies hold online podcasts for their readers to listen to, such as the New York Times or online Slate magazine. This is all done in order to compete in the open market. Once one networks podcasted their media the rest followed in dominos, hiring more producers and web programmers, adding additional to additional work assignments to staff, shooting extra footage, and programming more to the Network website. ESPN for example has just introduced a strictly online show, no television required. The hands of the publishing Industries were forced by people like Scott Sigler, to level the playing field and offer audio novels for online purchase.

Picture this scenario. Your friend, bored in class one day, uses his garage band application on his IPhone and records a funky beat. After class, he goes home to his laptop and uploads that beat from his phone to his blogging website. You, currently sitting in class, feel your IPhone go off. You, having already subscribed to your friends blog, has just received the automatic download of your friends garage tune. After listening, you go to your friend’s site right from your phone, and respond to his post, telling him how bad his tune was perhaps. This is an example of the full circle chain of events that reflects the growth of digitalization in this generation.

We started this course discussing things like the virtual commons and early chat groups that began to bring us closer together through the new Web world. We end it with a complete understanding of the new age media concepts of Web 2.0, Hypertext Markup Language, and Digital Convergence, which have all helped turn our society into one in which people are never completely disconnected from one another. Podcasts, along with all technology, are surely to continue evolving quickly, and the day is soon to come where society will have changed from the day I wrote this. Let’s just hope it continues to change for the better.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nov 24 Dodgeball and Social Networking

Shirley Clay’s chapter 9 reading Dodgeball and Social Networking isn’t the most scholarly written work we’ve had, but it is one of the most informative. We all had a grey understanding of the dynamics of social networking and circles, but her words gave great elaboration to how they directly affect social incidents. In return, she makes “What a small world incidents” more like “What a small world of personal, social, and physical elements that increase the likelihood that we would know each other or the same people” incidents.

This is because these ‘small world’ incidents, such as meeting a person on a plane who turns out to be a friend of a friend, can really be stripped down to the relative reasons you two would know each other. Going to and coming from the same locations, working in careers that demand or allow you to travel, even sitting in seats of equal price range might increase the chances that you two are distantly connected. Even low connected people are bound to share a highly connected contact, such as all the acquaintances of Joi Ito, who then formed direct relationships through IRC channels.

Although social networking is a theory of communication which has existed as long as class systems, the difference today is the social networking tools which work to connect certain people or groups of people. Dodgeball for instance, designed for mobile phone use, bringing together people in the same place at the same time, sharing the same social contacts. There is also networks who bring together those with similar values or passions, like dogster for dog owners, or asmallworld, a social network for the socially networked.

There is one aspect of communication that networking increases which was overlooked in this chapter. This is what it does for those outside of social circles, who could share as many of the same characteristics or even stereotypes as those heavily involved in social circles share. Clay touched on this idea in Here Comes Everybody, when discussing weblogs (2008). “The most connected weblogs are thousands of times more connected than ordinary weblogs are, while ordinary weblogs, with a few readers, are far more likely to be part of a densely connected cluster”(Pg. 218).

On a personal note, I once hit it off with a girl in my class after we both discovered neither of us had facebook. We both felt comfortable knowing neither of us were dedicated to superficial social networking, and valued direct relationships and face to face communication. It’s important to remember that social networking doesn’t stop at the networks alone, or the tools we use. We all network one way or another.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Essay 4 Blogging

In Today’s world, through the technological advancement of the Internet, we have the capability to access information like we never have before. Today, people always have a source for information right at their fingertips, whether it be through a computer, television, or a phone. And although the cheap, efficient, reliable source of printed newspaper will never be obsolete, its prominence and necessity within society and culture has subsided greatly. This is due to the institution of online news media and blogging into our lives, and our new found enjoyment of having an individual say in things. Today, people don’t have to trust in published journalists alone, and can receive their information from sources which we each find the most credible for us. Issues of amateurism and professionalism aside, blogging offers to all of us a voice, and possible influence, in any and all matters of discussion. Blogging then, is in essence a democratic process, and has a place in our nation, despite the many problems bloggers find themselves faced with. As Aaron Barlow (2008) explains in his book ‘Blogging America’, “ The ‘democratization’ of discussion broadens debate far beyond what can be found in traditional news media, where the only venue for most peoples expression is a letter-to-the-editor ghetto”(Pg. 4)

To represent this theory that blogging is bringing the discussion back to the popular control, you can look at a site like . Profootballtalk is a news and rumor site focused on the National Football League. The site has only one creator and editor, Mike Florio, a lawyer and former employee of Florio claims to “Hate all NFL teams equally”, which in return, gives to us his unbiased, relentless coverage of all teams and players, with no exceptions. Florio, as he’s known on the site, has no affiliation with the NFL. Through a network of league sources he covers all news on any NFL affiliates, from players and coaches to cheerleaders and front office officials. The sight is reportedly read by many NFL insiders and also acts as a watchdog for the league, reporting on inaccurate or biased stories from other media outlets. The sites feature ‘turd watch’, is a yearlong open NFL crime tally and competition, ranking teams based on the criminal activities of their members. The site also holds weekly live blogs for NFL games, provides a section for funny photo-shopped images, as well as providing a link to individual team news. Profootballtalk is highly active in users, and also well respected by other prominent sports columnists, most notably Peter King of

Profootballtalk, underneath every broken story, offers an open blog for all net users and football fans to comment, a feature that is not offered by the hierarchal or These strings of conversation often spark commentary, arguments, and sometimes further elaboration or coverage from fans. The site is saturated with regulars who take it seriously and insist on commenting on every article covered by Florio. It’s also filled with diehard fans who strictly go to their teams news and information and comment strictly on their teams related stories.

Besides Profootball talk being fast to deliver information before other sources, it has also been known to cover on controversial issues first, while the NFL sanctioned news outlets are hesitant to. For instance, a New England Patriot cheerleader was kicked off the squad due to degrading pictures posted on her face-book page. This story was up and commented on before and the Patriot official team site, while didn’t report it at all.

Profootballtalk is just as careful of protecting the NFL’s good name as the League itself, but does so in a more open and democratic venue. Rather than protecting it by withholding stories that would decrease the leagues face, Mike Florio and the users try to improve upon the league by providing feedback for and from fans on all issues surrounding it. The truth is, there are more way important matters in this world than football players and Sunday games, that blogging now allows us take part in. Politics and economics are just some topics that now, through getting the voice of the people into the discussion, we have broadened the terms and ideas of democracy. But outside of our everyday struggle as low, middle, and mid upper class citizens to fight the established order of things, we also have a right to get the most out of the things we derive pleasure from. Football is entertainment, and through, we as fans are offered yet another time consuming way to entertain ourselves with that forum. Because Sunday and video games just wasn’t enough.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blogging Journal Day 4

I gave it till late into the night to view, when I knew there would be anymore postings for the day. The next day when the first article goes up, you can’t view the articles from the previous day in a long string of postings, and there is no archive section that organizes according to date. In all there over 40 news articles were put up on Game day, some just being injury reports with no comments and some game overviews with tons of them.

I looked at the posts for the ‘Chiefs go for win, but fall short’ article. I assumed it would be a divided opinion because the game went down to the controversial call to go for two points and the win at the end of the game. It was, half in support of the coach and half ridiculing the decision. I posted on this article. ‘PhininCanada’ asked how Herm Edwards has a 2nd head coaching job. I told him it’s because he kept putting the Jets in the playoffs, and that he should stick to the Canadian Football League. Why not?

Another article today the sounded off controversy was one dealing with the issues of the struggling Cleveland Browns. Things got argumentative between apparently big browns fans, when ‘clevefan1’ and ‘bleedbrown’ posted long carefully constructed blogs with different viewpoints for fault. It’s apparent that on this site, it’s common for a particular fan of a team to be the driving force of one article, and not comment on any other. On the other hand, I frequently see names like ‘shadylampz’ and ‘joesixpack’ getting their two cents in on everything.

Nov. 10th Response Blogging America Ch.5

Barlow’s chapter 5 of Blogging America dealt mainly with what blogs have done, or how they relate to popular culture. In this chapter, Barlow cites and quotes many Authors, books and films from the mid to late 20th century. Some of these pop culture references include The Man Who Japed, Forbidden Planet, Small is beautiful, The Man in the High Castle, and 1984. Although this increasing use of citations made it more difficult than often to chose what citations and quotes to use from the chapter for the blog, it helped to give great insight on how technology was perceived in the pop culture world.

While the Machine age during the two world wars captured the imagination of Americans, the referenced books and films had foreseen the wonders, and possible ramifications of technological advancement, by portraying it through Utopian societies. The later pages of this chapter deal with blogging in the new age of popular culture directly, and how bloggers or fan input can now have influence in media. Barlow references the atrocious movie ‘Snakes on a Plane’, and how bloggers had direct influence in the movie retaining that title after a considered change, in order to get his point across.

Another main theme of Barlow’s chapter 5 is his discussion of consumer control in a world of increasing mass or popular culture. Through quoting Dwight Macdonald, Herbert Gans, George Orwell, and their views on consumption, Barlow supports his underlying claim that it was inevitable for consumers to eventually take an increased, more active role in the consumption of products. Other touched upon themes include issues between amateur and ‘Professional’ bloggers, issues the older generation have with media change, and problems of authenticity due to fan based information playing a big role on the web, for instance Wikipedia.

To me, this chapter made the coarse material from beginning to end come full circle, and made me ask myself if the communication on the internet increased or lessened our freedom, individuality, and sense of community. Barlow references the movie V for vendetta, in relation to blogs giving people control over the centralized communication system rather than the rulers. But I would argue, that it was only by letting the volume of popular opinion increase that the real rulers were able to monitor everything, as discussed in Michael Zimmer’s reading on Issues of Privacy and the concept of Search 2.0. Barlow quotes blogger ‘Nicole’ on the blog With Hands Held High, in relation to 1984 and contemporary society, “If the government can legally listen to your phone conversations, search your things without warrant... what does that say about this so-called democracy? How is that any better than Orwell’s depiction of a similar society?”(Pg. 117) Did we trade our freedom of privacy for freedom of speech? And if so, are we okay with it because we can speak about it? We shouldn’t be.

Blogging Journal Day 3

I gave the site a rest for a few days towards the end of the week, figuring that Saturday through Monday would have more to observe with generally more NFL news, and because usually conducts a live blog for a Sunday game. On the site today, I see nothing that’s promoting a live blog for a week 10 game, and the last week to have a live blog was week 8. It’s disappointing because looking at the live blogs from previous weeks, they appear to be more personally disclosing between bloggers and tend to skew off topic, much more like a chat group from the Arpanet. Florio has close interaction with his users during the live blog, often taking and giving criticism. If there is a live blog for the Sunday night game or the Monday night game, I’ll observe and write about it the following entry.

One big flaw of this website I find, is its appearance and lack of easy accessibility to articles. The homepage of the sight displays the latest 5 post by Florio. However on Saturday, Sunday and the early days of the week, he posts 15 to 30 short articles a day. And when you go to the ‘Rumor Mill’ to search the latest stories, there all on one long string, making it difficult to sift through. I’m assuming the lack of dress up in the site (No pictures of players, or NFL gear), is due to Florio not being sanctioned with the NFL union, a probable reason for the sights onus on player behavior watch as well. Comments on game results in the upcoming days should be interesting, and perhaps ill contribute.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blogging Journal Day 2

Upon the 2nd day of observing this, I can for sure say they are a great source for getting information on not just NFL headlines, but stories which you won’t find at or For instance, they reported on the release of a New England Patriot cheerleader because of degrading pictures on her Facebook page(which reminded me of our reading on privacy issues in Search 2.0)I didn’t find that article on the other two sights mentioned.

One of my first impressions of the sights was that of a soft commentary without much retort from blogger to blogger. As it turns out, things can get a little aggressive sometimes. People using phrases like “Do your homework” and “I want to correct a few people”. I decided to ‘Go Rogue’ myself, and speak out in criticism over one guy’s blog on a September 4th NFL Headline Fins Fire Hagan. I commented back to a blog left by Aka ‘Sprovo’, saying, “You out of your mind” in my disagreement with him. He responded boldly, defending his ideas in a pretty long, thought out blog which took at least 15 minutes to write.

There’s a good amount of advertising on this site, mainly ‘Sprint’, ‘NFL SHOP’, but for every article posted, there’s a box right underneath the story bought out by some company, from M&M’s to acne cream. It’s not the prettiest sight, but it’s highly reliable for the most part, except for an occasional screw up. Florio sometimes jumps the gun on breaking stories like the releasing of some players, and he outwardly guaranteed a Patriots victory over the Giants. MWAAHAHAHA!