Monday, 2 March 2009

Kindle 2.0 – 2nd Impressions

180px-amazbuck rio800

Dave’s “Decade of Ebook Arguments” post took me back a decade, to my first portable MP3 player – the Diamond Rio‘s 800 1

If memory serves, the 800 had 64Mb of storage2 – just enough audio for the walk from the apartment for the L ride into Loop. Not even enough for something new on the way home. I still have fond memories of manually copying files onto it from Panic’s Audion3.

I don’t remember feeling like the Rio changed my life.

I do remember thinking it was pretty neat for offering a small, small, glimpse into a what could be. Like future predictions of personal air travel, video-phones, or the Monsanto House.

The Kindle 2 has a lot in common with that old Rio 800.

The Kindle also shows us a future world – one of of direct-to-reader digital publishing and digital distribution. Dave’s post also brought to mind all the indie ‘zine & comic publishers I knew decades ago. They would have killed for the Kindle’s distribution channel.

But, like the Rio, the Kindle (and ebook readers in general) don’t have the ‘changed my life’ quality Apple is regularly able to ship4. There are 3 huge deficiencies I see with the Kindle after living with it for nearly a week:

  • The typographic capabilities are too basic. Simple conventions like italics, blockquotes, and a great number of typefaces would make the reading experience far more book-like (and actually usable for technical reference ebooks).
  • Navigating the Kindle is kludgy and unsophisticated. I mentioned this in my initial Kindle review. It’s annoying to navigate. It shouldn’t be annoying to navigate.
  • Getting new, free, independent stuff onto the Kindle isn’t as easy as it needs to be. No, I don’t think iTunes’ podcast directory should be used as a model – there are far simpler and equally sophisticated ways to handle this.

If there’s one reason why I’m happy with the Kindle, it’s that I’m a sucker for the glimpses into the future.

1. At the time, I was working for a startup funded by Diamond Multimedia.
2. Fast-forward to today, and on a normal week I download hundreds of Mb of audio from independent producers that’s only distributed digitally.
3. Still the friendliest, nicest, and simplest audio player for the Mac.
4. As you know, none of Apple’s products are first-to-market, and why I don’t expect to see an Apple-branded eBook reader any time soon.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Something New In the Air

Two of my favorite people are starting new podcast projects in the next week.

  1. Kris Smith formerly of Croncast will be launching Life in the Can next Friday, still with Betsy on the other mic.
  2. Dave Slusher is launching the Reality Break podcast a couple days later.

Both projects are aiming to be more sponsorship-friendly than their preceding productions and I think that’s interesting. To date, sponsored showed haven’t kept my attention, but that had more to do with me being uninterested, not an aversion to sponsors. I trust Dave and Kris will be doing some interesting things to make it a win for everyone.

Kris, Betsy, Dave, congrats on the new production.

They’re both already in

Monday, 2 June 2008

Podcasting is My Co-Pilot

I’ve been making regular trips across the metro lately, the time in the car and all the road construction detours are perfect for podcast listening. Via a recommendation from Dean Allen, I grabbed Stephen Fry’s Podgrams. I quite enjoy all Fry’s work, from Jeeves & Wooster though to his appearances on Bones1. His podgrams are on the whole, too English for me. I’ve skipped the first and second more than a couple times, but his third, ‘Wallpaper’ sucked me in. In it, he transported me from I-94 West-bound to 5th St. in NYC watching Empire State Building rise from the review window of a taxi.

Today, on the way home from a cancelled meeting, I listened to Dave Slusher’s May 31, 2008 Clambake. In addition to re-inspiring me to hit the record button, it was nice to catch up with Dave. If you need an example of how a podcast can deliver a person to you, listen to this one. By his closing song, I swore Dave was sitting in my passenger seat.

1. Anyone else notice the intro riff of Bones’ theme song used to be the intro riff of Numb3rs? Everytime I hear it, I think, “We all use bones everyday.”

Sunday, 13 January 2008

The Podcast is the Ad

This is the most straight-forward, up-front reason why independent podcasters have had a difficult time becoming ad-supported.

“Most periodical publications, whether they are print, audio or television, are essentially ad delivery mechanisms. Because of this, big media publishers don’t start by coming up with ideas for new magazines, radio or television shows – they start by identifying attractive groups of advertisers that need a way to connect with audiences.”

Emphasis mine.

Last year I pitched a podcast project that was all about making money and being ad-supported. While the project’s on hold for a bit, I started with talking with the people whose support I wanted.

Well, actually it was Step 2.

Step 1? A conversation about innovative ad modules within a podcast.

Putting the ‘Fish’ in AmigoFish

After 3-years of knowing what a fantastic idea it would be – I finally moved the Mac Mini into the living room and plugged it into the HDTV.

While the initial plan was to use it as a DVD player1, it piqued my interested in video podcasts 2. Not knowing where to start, I headed over to AmigoFish and loaded up a “Feed for Predictions of Video greater or equal to 1.0 stars with confidence of Wild Guess”.

Immediately, it sends me National Geographic’s Wild Chronicles, or as the little guy calls it “Wild Crocodiles”. They’re 6-minute, highly informative, segments on cool animal stories that are a blast to watch with a toddler. This afternoon, we caught a segment on re-introducing monkeys back into the wild and learning how octopuses eat. Cool stuff.

And it’s great to have something on hand when I hear, “Papa, I wanna see fish.”

1. The mini replaces a sub-$100 Philips Upconverting DVD player that I can’t say anything good about.
2. As much as I dislike iTunes for podcast management, it’s far better than Tivo.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Kongrats to Kris with a K

Since the beginning of podcasting I’ve looked to Kris Smith to make a go of it professionally in a way that feels right (selling services) verses some of the smarmier approaches I’ve seen (CPM, shoehorning the broadcast network model).

Today, Kris announced he’s leaving Room 214, the marketing firm he joined at the beginning of the year.

There’s a conversation started about re-invorgating podcast-o-land – and I’d keep an eye on Kris if you want to see how it’s done in a smart way.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

City Pages – Exception that Proves the Rule

There’s a best practice in podcast-o-land:

Don’t go public with your podcast until at least episode 6.

Like too many local publication moves in this area – they’re far too focused on ad-supported page views to let the technology work for them – technology like RSS and downloadable files. At best what the City Pages launched was an mp3 blog. And that’s generous.

“It just dawned on me why City Pages hasn’t ever understood this. Traditionally, in order to get the City Pages, you’ve always had to go to a City Pages kiosk. You’ve never been able to subscribe to it.” – Aaron Landry

“I want to hear what didn’t make the piece” – Paul Schmelzer

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Podcast Advertising Not Working for Me

1. The (second) battery in my 3G iPod is dying and I want to buy a replacement. A while back, an iPod battery replacement company was running ads at Dave Slusher’s Evil Genius Chronicles. But that’s all I remember.

At the time the ads were running, I didn’t need an iPod battery. Now I do and can’t find the name of the vendor by searching Dave’s site. Am I going to arbitrarily re-listen to the archive of clambakes just for that one bit of info? No, I’ll probaby buy from whoever’s selling them on Amazon.

Extend this to dynamic-insertion technologies (not that Dave uses them) and even if I found the epsisode, and re-listened, the same ad may or may not be there. Unhelpful.

2. Limelight Networks has been a long-time supporter of ITConversations (or whatever they call themselves today). Yesterday, I received an unqualified, unwanted, and frankly spam message from Khoi Nguyen, Limelight’s Biz Dev Manager, it included phrases like:

“My main objective is to gain a better understanding of how you are currently delivering your content out to your end-users while discovering a solution that will help to improve delivery while reducing your cost.”

“So your users are happy and they will marvel at the speed of your media. Your videos will start in ‘real time’ so it is truly a media grade experience.”

I’m not the right person for this message, and if I was, I don’t want to be talked to like that. In fact, after reading Nugeyn’s message, if I have bandwidth issues, I’m more likely to call up Swarmcast than Limelight.

Dave says it’s iPodJuice and the last clambake they sponsored was Mar 6, 2006 – 17 months ago.

There’s a interesting marketing strategy conversation in there. Feel free to explore it in the comments. Thanks.

Just placed the order for the new battery from ipodjuice.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Dave just did something I’ve been thinking on and off about for a while now: Twitter meets podcasting. Behold – the promise of podcasting as voicemail….of _actually_ having a conversation via the ‘space phone’. I think I’ll dust off the FastCast idea after dinner tonight.

So the FastCast workflow tweaked for Twittering:
Record via Audio Hijack Pro -> HijackingWP script uploads to WordPress -> TwitterTools pushes Title and mp3 URL (not permalink) to Twitter.

Hmmm…HijackingWP could ping Twitter as well….more to come.

30 Jun 2007 Update:
Now, I’ve got an idea on how to work video into the mix. Not that video of any length could be under 200k, so there’s some work to do there. 🙂