Sunday, January 30, 2005

New Mobcast: The Gates @ Central Park

In just two weeks, New York's Central Park will host "The Gates," a park-wide artwork created by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Thousands of gates streamed with saffron-colored flags will line more than 20 miles of paths throughout the park.

Given that Christo's work always draws debate, The Gates seemed like a perfect opportunity for another mobcasting experiment. So I've created a new blog called The Gates @ Central Park. The site allows Central Park visitors to post their thoughts on The Gates either by email or by telephone. They can even post photos from Central Park by attaching them to their email. Once again, I'm using Blogger and Audioblogger to create the site, with Feedburner to create the RSS feed.

So if you're planning to be in New York City between February 12 and February 27, please go to Central Park and visit The Gates. Then post an email or a podcast to my website and let us know what you thought of the experience. -ac

Saturday, January 29, 2005

TechTV Story on Mobcasting

It turns out that TechTV did a story yesterday on mobcasting. Here's a podcast posted by one of the correspondents for their show Screen Savers. They also link to the tutorial that I posted a couple of weeks ago.

Listening to his podcast, it seems they were discussing mobcasting in the more traditional "moble podcasting" sense rather than the "smart mob podcasting" sense, but hey, it's still fun listening to them hanging out on a corner in Hollywood jazzed about posting a mobile podcast.... -ac

Monday, January 24, 2005

Brendan Greeley Offers a Numbered List of Final Impressions

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Please Send Us Your Comments by Voicemail!

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If you'd like to comment on our podcasts from the Berkman blogging conference, or if you'd like to make a comment about the conference itself, we'd love to hear from you. Please call 1-206-888-2762 and leave us a message. We'll post the most interesting ones as podcasts here on the blog. Please be sure to state your name and organization, if relevant, and try to keep it to less than three minutes. Thanks! -ac

Andy's Final Podcast of the Day

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Final comments from Andy before heading out to beat the blizzard.

Andy Gives a Post-Lunch Update

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A short podcast from me following lunch, as Dave Winer moderates the public session.

Jon Garfunkel

Jon Garfunkel

Jon Garfunkel of talks during the public session of the Berkman conference. Here's a link to a commentary Jon posted last night after the first day of the conference. -ac

Dan Gillmor Podcast

Dan Gillmor talks about his decision to leave the San Jose Mercury News and become a full-time advocate for citizen journalism.

Jimmy Wales Podcast on WikiNews

Here's a podcast of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales talking about WikiNews.

Podcast of Brendan Greeley's Presentation

Here's a podcast of Brendan Greeley's presentation on podcasting and public broadcasting. I would have put it up sooner but he played a Garrison Keiller clip that explicitly stated "no rebroadcasts or else" so I edited it out.

Public Broadcasting Meets Podcasting

Brendan Greeley of Public Radio Exchange kicked off the morning session at the Berkman blogging conference by giving a presentation on the convergence of podcasting with public broadcasting.

Podcasting was Dave Winer's idea, he explained: to add new code to RSS feeds so that they could help Internet users subscribe to audio blogs and have those blogs downloaded directly to their MP3 player.

"I think that public radio and the people producing podcasts are heading in the same direction," he said. Public radio people know how to make quality programming, but are just learning about the role the Internet can play as a dissemination tool. Podcasters are still learning how to create quality programming. "You can still hear podcasters sometimes say 'Is this thing on?'"

Everyone in public radio talks about "new voices," Brendan noted. Everybody agrees the notion of new voices is a good idea, he said, but the system is stacked against it.

Public radio has grown since 9/11 because it engenders trust. "Though it's used by some farmers to keep their cows mellow."

"When what you do has been mocked in a skit on Saturday Night Live, it's time to set down and think about what you do."

Public radio is similar to blogging in the sense that it has a community of people who feel they have a vested interest around it.

He played an example of an experimental show by Garrison Keillor on Public Radio Exchange. He started with a warning from Keillor saying that you can't republish or rebroadcast, then a conversation about the band Evanescence and their annoying "quasi-Christian" sound. The program was a flop. No one ran it. Critics said the people in the program weren't experts or known quantities, which was seen as counter to public broadcasting culture.

Now they're podcasting - "Zero barrier to entry." The quality of software available for free now makes it possible to record podcasts with excellent production value -- no studio investments required.

He talked about Adam Curry, who co-founded podcasting with Dave Winer. Listening to Adam, he'll talk for a while then walk away from the mic to let his dogs out of the house or talk with his plumber in Dutch. Greeley said that he sees this as more authentic in many ways, because Adam and other podcasters seem like real people. He also played the Tap Dancer Podcast News, a woman tapdancing to a piano while talking about the latest political headlines, and a clip from the Dawn and Drew show.

It might seem easy for journalists to dismiss programming like this, he said, but then again, Howard Stern became a huge media personality because his audience saw him as authentic, as a real person.

So where do public radio and podcasting meet? Podcasting will lower the barriers to entry into public radio, as more podcasters find their voice. "It's possible now to start producing a podcast... and when there's enough demand, you can present yourself to a broadcaster, and say, 'I come with this audience.'"

Robert Cox and Brooks Jackson

Robert Cox and Brooks Jackson

Robert Cox and Brooks Jackson chat prior to the start of the Berkman blogging conference's "podcasting breakfast."

Andy's Saturday Morning Welcome Podcast

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A quick hello from Andy as Brendan gets ready to host the "podcasting breakfast" here at the Berkman blogging conference.

Friday, January 21, 2005

How Blogging is Changing Journalism's Business Model

Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine is moderating a group discussion about the effects of blogging on journalism as an industry, including ethical issues, journalistic standards and law. Here's a podcast from the first part of the session. It's just over 20 minutes long.

The True Story Behind that Famous JFK Photograph

JFK photoPublic radio host Christopher Lydon, referring to the famous photo of JFK leaning over his Oval Office desk with his head down, told a story of how the photo was actually taken. NY Times photographer George Tames went to the White House, scheduled to take an official photo of President Kennedy. He arrived at the Oval Office, finding JFK leaning against his desk. Because of the president's back injury, he found it more comfortable to stand over his desk and lean down, putting the weight on his shoulders so he could do things like reading the paper. At that particular moment, JFK was reading the NY Times op-ed page, in particular a column by Arthur Krock. Tames immediately snapped two pictures, then went over to the president.

JFK then turned to Tames and said, "I wonder where Mr. Krock gets all the crap he puts in this horsesh*t column of his."

The story got a good laugh from the conference participants. Lydon concluded the story by asking what it would have been like if blogging had existed at the time the photograph was taken. Would more people today know the true story of how the picture was taken?, he wondered aloud.

Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian website.

Let the Games Begin

Things are getting interesting here at the conference, as the journalists vs. bloggers war rears its ugly head yet again.

Here's a snippet of an exchange between NY Times managing editor Jill Abramson and RSS inventor Dave Winer:

Abramson: "Do you know how much it costs to keep a New York Times bureau in Baghdad.

Winer: But there are bloggers in Baghdad - that's what you've got to deal with.

Abramson: I completely reject your premise, because I see the public service value of keeping a team in Baghdad.

Winer: Of course you do -

Abramson: Please let me speak

Rick Kaplan, to Winer: You need to be a little less defensive. Part of what is necessary in the coverage of Iraq is what a professional group of journalists can bring. Plus what the whole new world of blogging can be. It's not "instead of you".... We need as much information and as much reporting as you can get, and you can't do without what the New York Times and the networks [are doing]. She's not trying to exclude anybody. To get there in a professional and detailed way is very expensive.

Ethan and Andy Chat About the Conference

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Ethan Zuckerman talks with Andy Carvin about the Berkman blogging conference and the mobcasting experiment.

(Originally recorded at 2pm; posted by Audioblogger an hour later.)

Podcast: 11:30am update

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Pre-conference podcast update

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I posted this before 10am; it just appeared on the blog around 3pm. Audioblogger is slow as winter molasses today.

Today's First Podcast, Six Hours Late

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This is a podcast I posted at 9am this morning as I headed out the door for the conference. It was posted by Audioblogger more than five hours later. Better late then never, I guess, but it's making this blog read like Tarantino's Pulp Fiction script - present, flashback, present, flashback.... -ac

Karen Schneider: Don't Forget the Digital Divide

Karen Schneider, better known to the world as the Free Range Librarian, offered the Berkman blogging conference a reality check, reminding attendees that you can't discuss these issues of journalism, blogging and credibility unless you also understand the digital divide faced by so many people.

"I represent the end of the information transaction," she began. "I've heard a lot of the beginning of the information transaction... but I represent the other end." Schnieder told of what it was like working at a rural library, heavily under-connected to the Internet, with only one Internet PC in the entire library. "You are talking about asking the user to do more work, to read up on everybody - how is a user with only one half-hour session at a library able to do that?"

"Any ethical framework must begin with the needs and interests of the users they're serving," she said. It needs to be informed by the way it's transmitted through time and space -- and in the case of a rural library, perhaps not getting to the end user in the first place.

Responding to Dan Gillmor's earlier comments that the public must be prepared to do more work to stay well informed as more journalism goes online, she said, "I come from a world where the user should have to do a lot less of the work."

In her closing comments, she asked participants to get better acquainted with yours truly (it almost made me fall out of my seat.) "Your homework assignment for today is that you would go to Digital Divide Network and read some of what Andy Carvin has to say, because I think it's a great reality check to remind us that many people aren't well connected, not very well educated about the Internet." She also told us to think about the eighth grade student trying to look up information on the tsunami, or even better, the librarian trying to help that student, and the many challenges they faced due to limited Internet access and limited ICT literacy. "We have a dearth of information ... on how to process all of this, "she concluded.

Here's a podcast of her remarks.

Not Very Happy With Audioblogger

Ethan Zuckerman just tried to post a podcast interview with me; so far, no dice. Wish I knew what the heck was wrong with the software. Meanwhile, like you can see here, Audlink is working just fine.

The Pros and Cons of Anonymity

During the post-lunch group discussion, David Sifry of Technorati and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia offered some interesting comments on the effect of anonymous authors on content reliability.

"The problem with anonymity is the lack of accountability," Sifry said. Anonymous blogging can be incredibly powerful, he continued, but if you remove the context - "Hi, I'm David Sifry.. and I'm a real person" - you risk adding a layer of doubt for the readers. (I mean, if journalists are discouraged from using anonymous sources, should we be surprised if readers are less trusting of anonymous bloggers?)

Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia responded by describing the culture of Wikipedians -- Internet users who contribute content to Wikipedia. "There is virtually no disclosure of who people are," he said of Wikipedians. "It's not that they're anonymous; it's that no one really cares. When you write for a wiki, if you want your writing to survive, you have to write in a very neutral manner. " So over time, he said, authors develop credibility because of their content's ability to survive the wiki process. "With the wiki method, there's a collaborative review process," he concluded.

This, I think, is Wikipedia's strength and weakness. (wikiness?) It's an obvious strength that anyone can go to Wikipedia and publish or edit an entry. I personally love being a Wikipedian. But like I said in my recent podcast on Wikipedia, the lack of information about a Wikipedian's background and expertise causes a large segment of the population to not want to consider the site as a trusted resource. That's why so many teachers and librarians don't want their students using it as a source.

While it may be true that certain Wikipedia entries are well-vetted, lots of them aren't, so the "collaborative review process" around those entries is nonexistent. That's why I think Wikipedia needs to reach out to more experts, particularly in non-technical subjects, and encourage them to contribute. They should also encourage people to post information about their qualifications on a particular subject, so readers of Wikipedia can make an informed decision as to whether they consider a particular entry as reliable or not.

Podcast: Judith Donath

Here's a podcast of Judith Donath's lunchtime keynote. -ac

Stepping Back for a Moment: A Short History of this Site

Stephen Dulaney just posted a comment to the site asking about its history. Rather than having my response buried within a comment thread, I figured I'd take a moment and post it here.

Basically, this site is less than a week old. I've been blogging from my main blog, Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth, for a long time -- I ran it as a personal website for eight years before switching to Blogger two years ago to make it easier to manage. I've been experimenting with multimedia blogging since 2003, including audio and video blogging, but I only started podcasting at the end of 2004. (Unfortunately the Movable Type gods have cursed me and crashed my blogging tool for that site, which is why I'm blogging text as well as podcasts here on the mobcasting blog.)

Last week, I posted a podcast to my blog on an interview I did with CNN; I recorded the podcast along the way to the interview with my iPod. Then someone on the PODCASTERS email list commented on using a mobile phone to podcast instead, so I began to play around with Audlink and Audioblogger to see if I could get them to work with a podcast-friendly RSS feed. This then led to to the idea of creating a blog in which many people could podcast from their mobile phones: a smart mob mobile phone podcast, or mobcast, if you will. So last weekend I created this blog as a place where I could experiment with mobcasting along with some colleagues, including Ethan Zuckerman and Brendan Greeley here at Harvard, and Matt Conahan and Jennifer Evonne from the Omidyar Network.

So now I'm sitting at the Berkman blogging conf with my laptop overheating my thighs, capturing Judith Donath's lunchtime keynote on my iPod. Though the tagline of this blog refers to the site as an untamed experiment in mobcasting, admittedly this particular event is relatively tame and small, so I'm not expecting any podcasting miracles at the moment (particularly since Audioblogger seems to have dissed me and won't let me post). But hopefully this will be the first of several experiments in which a group of people will be able to podcast collectively. I'll also try to cover other blogs doing mobcasts as the idea spreads. Who knows if the idea is sound or not, but at least we can have some fun trying. -ac

Wrapping Up Lunch

We've just finished lunch and are assembling for our lunchtime speaker; here's a short podcast.

RSS: The Next ICT Literacy Challenge?

Dan Gillmor at the Berkman blogger confab today just made the comment that the audience will have to learn to do a little more work if they want to stay informed. "It's not just going to show up on their doorstep" the way it used to be, he said. It takes more effort to stay informed now, so what can we do to streamline the process?

Sounds like RSS feeds will be the next major ICT literacy challenge for the general public, particularly when only five percent of people on the Net use RSS and they tend to be white, well-off, and very well educated, according to the folks at Pew... -ac

The Berkman Gang

Another camera phone pic from the meeting:

berkman blogging conf

Zuckerman, Gillmor, Weinberger, LLP

Photo of Ethan Zuckerman, Dan Gillmor and Dave Weinberger from my camera phone:

Photo of Ethan Zuckerman, Dan Gillmor and Dave Weinberger from my camera phone

Podcasting Update

PowerBooks: The Blogger's Weapon of Choice?

Just did a quick census of the laptops in the room here at the Berkman blogger conference. About 25 laptops, give or take. How many Mac Powerbooks? At least 16 that I can see. Somebody should take a 360 panorama photo and send it to Steve Jobs.... -ac

Jay Rosen, Dave Winer, Bob Giles

Here's a WAV file of Jay Rosen'sopening remarks, including responses from Dave Winer and Bob Giles. I'll try to convert to MP3 as well but my converter is flaking out on me. It's gotta be the cold weather or something. -ac

Jay Rosen: Why the Bloggers vs. Journalists War is Over

Jay Rosen offered what he called a "peacemaking document" as well as a "troublemaking document."

"The war between journalists and bloggers... the cartoon dialogue... is over," he said. "It doesn't mean we're not going to fight any more.... The tension will go on between the two. But we ought not to see these things as enemies or opposites... but if we look at the way the tsunami story was covered by independent journalists.

"There has been, and there is right now, a power-shift right now, from the producers of media to the people formally known as the audience," Rosen continued. "Mostly because of the Internet.... This has led to a loss of sovereignty by the press... a loss of exclusive control. You are not the boss anymore; what you say is no longer the law."

"Because of this loss, A lot of pressure is being put on journalism's mainstream ideas...." he continued. "Objectivity as a touchstone is faltering... and this is a part of the intellectual crisis."

"Blogging is very well adapted to the world where the shift in power is taking place.... where there are many centers of sovereignty.... Blogging is not only well adapted, but organic to the World Wide Web."

"Blogging and journalism live in a shared media space," he quoted Rebecca Blood, "And nobody is leaving this pace... Bloggers and journalists are now competing for attention."

"The press is separating from this other big institution called the media and is moving about in social space. So a lot of the press today is not based in the media... It's based in the nonprofit world... And some of the press is now in public hands. So while the press and the media once overlapped almost completely, now the press... has shifted. The nonprofit world owns a piece of it; people involved in politics own a piece; and the public owns a piece of it."

"The ideas that gave birth to professional journalism... were in fact an artifact of a one-to-many world. They were built for a media platform that is slowly disentegrating."

Rosen wrapped up with two points. "Journalists have been slow to understand why they owe a debt to web logs and bloggers... The people who are developing the Web as a world for journalism are bloggers.... They are independent authors and writers and bloggers. If you look at 'news as conversation,' the people who are putting it into place are bloggers."

Rosen then noted that the majority of NY Times readers were online readers as of 2002, yet NY Times staff see themselves as writing for a paper that happens to have an online presence. Journalism "hasn't adapted to the new world they live in."

"Actually, they're writing for an online newspaper that happens to have a print edition."

Palfrey Podcast

Here's a podcast of John Palfrey's opening remarks.

Any Minute Now...

Still waiting for Audioblogger to post my podcasts. In the meanwhile, here's a quick podcast I posted using Audlink. -ac

Getting Started in a Few Minutes

Just arrived here at Harvard; a couple dozen people are in the conference room, chatting and munching on breakfast. I've just posted a couple of podcasts to the site but they haven't appeared yet for some reason. Hopefully they'll be online soon. Otherwise we'll just have to do this the old-fashioned way. -ac

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Brendan Conducts a Not Particularly Entertaining Experiment

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And is reminded that media is not just transmission; it's talent.

Ethan Posts His First Phone Message

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Adam Curry Talks About Mobcasting

Adam Curry talked about mobcasting in his January 19th edition of Daily Source Code. Here's a snippet of what he had to say, with a couple of edits to keep this podcast family-friendly. :-) -ac

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

An Inaugural Mobcasting Experiment

Hi everyone.... As an inaugural experiment in mobcasting, I've created a mobcasting tool for presidential inauguration protestors. I posted a note to a couple of protest group sites, and have set up the blog so that the instructions for participating are right on the homepage. At this point I just plan to sit back and see if anything happens. -andy
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Monday, January 17, 2005

One Step Closer to Reality

So my instincts were correct; it's possible to use Blogger and AudioBlogger to create a community podcast site. While Blogger's RSS feed can't generate the necessary enclosure tags to make an audio blog RSS-friendly, can. So if you check out the RSS feed on this site - the little XML thingamajiggy in the right column -- you should be able to access the audio blog I just posted through podcast downloading software like iPodderX.

Need to take a break and have some dinner; then I'll get working on a quick tutorial to explain how it works... -andy

Quick Test of the Audioblogger Tool

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Welcome to Mobcasting!

Hi everyone. My name is Andy Carvin, and I've created this blog as an experiment in mobcasting. Mobcasting combines two ideas: mobile phone podcasting and Smart Mobs. Mobile phone podcasting is the idea of using a mobile phone to post RSS-enabled audio, or podcasts, to the Internet. Smart Mobs, meanwhile, is a concept coined by Howard Rheingold in which groups of people engage each other in a viral-like fashion using the Internet or other technologies.

My idea of mobcasting is simple: giving a group of people involved in a particular event (a protest march, a public gathering, etc) the ability to post their own podcasts to the Internet and aggregate them in such a way that other Internet users can access them as a collective experience. Here's a mobcasting example I wrote in an essay on my blog:

Imagine a large protest at a political convention. During the protest, police overstep their authority and begin abusing protesters, sometimes brutally. A few journalists are covering the event, but not live. For the protestors and civil rights activists caught in the melee, the police abuses clearly need to be documented and publicized as quickly as possible. Rather than waiting for the handful of journalists to file a story on it, activists at the protest capture the event on their video phones -- dozens of phones from dozens of angles. Thanks to the local 3G (or community wi-fi) network, the activists immediately podcast the footage on their blogs. The footage gets aggregated on a civil rights website thanks to the RSS feeds produced by the podcasters' blogs. (Or perhaps they all podcast their footage directly to a centralized website, a la OneWorld TV but with an RSS twist.) This leads to coverage by bloggers throughout the blogosphere, which leads to coverage by the mainstream media, which leads to demands of accountability by the general public. That's mobcasting.

So I've decided to create this blog as an experiment. Using Blogger's audioblogging tool, I hope to invite other Blogger members to use this blog as a place where they can all post audio blogs, hopefully in the context of an event in which they're all participating. I have no idea how well this will work, but I figured it would be worth giving it a try, particularly on someone else's server. (grin)

Anyway, thanks for visiting. I'll post more information on this idea once I get the blog fully set up. Thanks! -andy