Thursday, November 29, 2007

Useless Tools of Importance

The latest and greatest of the web provides us with a plethora of tools to play with and communicate with. Some of the tools out there seem pretty...well...silly at first glance. Some of these probably still seem that way to people who don't "get" what we are calling web 2.0.

Of course this "useless" moniker could have been applied to a lot of stuff that is now common place. Who needs a web page? Why do you need email? Wireless - what for? The list goes on - probably forever (who needs a telephone in their home...)

A few of these tools were tools I used on in my recent road trip. The two tools that took center stage were Twitter and Utterz, and to some extent the two of them together.

Twitter was definitely something that I didn't get when I heard about it. It sounds narcissistic at best, and pointless for the most part. Oh yeah, let me broadcast details of my daily life, like people care. Well the truth is - in physical space we do broadcast details of our daily life, not to everyone, but to anyone who is in listening range of our casual conversations. "Hey I'm heading to the x movie.", "I'm on my way to a restaurant", "I read this really cool book". Just over the web we didn't chat in public spaces and how many of your friends were really on line that you'd tell them online instead of in person.

Twitter sort of changed that picture, and although we may have started with only a couple of friends, or people we thought were interesting that we wanted to eavesdrop on, eventually this evolved. People we followed followed back and casual chit chat developed into relationships - in part by the other places where we could "go out and talk" like chat rooms on the live video websites, real life meet-ups and Second Life.

Utterz is a bit more recent. Quite a few people that I was following on Twitter were using Utterz (I know because their Utterz were tweeted.) At first I though it was yet another add on service - there are many out there. Eventually enough people were uttering that I had to check it out. (Ok, it got my curiosity going.) Something about Utterz is better than the other "record audio" services out there. You can call in on your phone and it records your message. You can send videos and pictures and text and also have it be part of your Utterz. And, and I think this may be the key feature, it can tie into other services - twittering, auto-posting to blogs, and the like. That feature is what let me know about it in the first place.

A road trip is an awesome time to spend time thinking, and experiencing the road. With all the thinking there is a desire to capture those thoughts because once back in the crowd of civilization that perspective can be lost. I suppose the answer for some would be to keep a journal of the adventure, or even record ones thoughts on tape. (Admittedly I did record some of my thoughts on voice recorders.) However Utterz and twitter added to this experience. They provided a way to record my thoughts and at the same time share them with others. The people who cared about my progress (and safety) on the journey could all receive messages as I progressed on my journey, and for others they could enjoy my journey vicariously. At the same time when I came to a place to stop I could check in and see the responses to my updates. It was a pretty amazing experience, and it was interesting seeing peoples responses to the journey. At the same time these "new tools" provided comfort for those who worried about me journeying alone.

Could I have done it without these tools. Sure - for now. But it may be that some time in the future broadcasting tools, and the way we gather information, will make tools like twitter and utterz essential, just like the "luxury cellphone" has become an essential item when traveling.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Voices and Volumes - What do You Know About?

Continuing on the local thread, I just accidentally found out about a Denver area Podcaster meetup. It's been around for years. I've searched on "denver podcast" and "boulder podcast" many times before and have not found this site before. I've even poked around on the Meetups page and reviewed more than a few weeks of the upcoming events and not seen anything on this. Only now when I've wandered over to a local seesmicer's blog, have I found out about this event.

Meanwhile, I know about Jeff Pulver's social media breakfast in Boston today. I also have heard other tweetups and social media gatherings in San Francisco, Boston, New York, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and parts of the UK. All of this makes me ask why?

The only answer that comes to me is that some places have better spokespeople than other places.

Chris Brogan and Jeff Pulver are big connectors, verbal, regular posters on blogs, twitter and video venues - so we all hear about whats going on in Boston, New York & Israel.

San Francisco has its share of big names - Robert Scoble, Loic Lemeur and many others.

The UK has Loudmouthman (Nik Butler) and Phil Campbell and again, many others.

These people are verbal, visible in a global sense, and actively doing stuff. Even if I missed a tweet or two their blogs and videos and various media expressions - and the echoes on other blogs - all make sure I hear about the events that they are part of. In a sense this is the regional elitism that Eric Rice was talking about a while ago. (Yeah, which I said was really the fault of the local folks.)

So the question is, how do we address this? I imagine for people who are plugged into the local networks there is no perceived problem as they know what is going on. But what about the newly transplanted or the newly interested? How do we hook in and and how do we find out about these things. And judging by the varied attendance of some events it seems even the plugged in would benefit from more visibility.

So who do you think of as a voice from the Boulder/Denver area? Am I just not following them? How to do small local areas improve the "volume" of their local news and events so that people find them as easily as I find the "big center" events? Or even so that when I search for such events in Google they come up somewhere towards the top?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

PodcampXL - First Form

PodcampXL - Podcamp with the Local Focus

So here are my first ideas on how I envision PodcampXL Boulder.

First of all this is a local event for the Boulder/Denver Area. If you consider Boulder/Denver to be local then this is for you.

So who is this event for. This is ostensibly for/about podcasting but podcasters in a rather broad definition. If you have done audio or video on the internet that you have made public, whether an official podcast or a viddler video or a seesmic video or an utterz, (etc) then this is about you.

Also if you are interested in watching, listening to, or influencing video and audio casting this is also for you. You don't have to be making the content to have a stake in the content.

The event itself:
First off, this is a participatory event. Everyone is expected to contribute whether presenting speaking, or contributing opinions. If you aren't comfortable getting up in front of a crowd to talk there still are ways you can contribute to the content.

There are two parts to the camp.
The first part is creating and evaluating content.
During the course of the podcamp people will create 'casts in whatever format they prefer to present what they do - what their content is.

This would be started off or done concurrently with some workshopping on how to make 'casts. Different workshops would be held on various aspects of casting - the tools, the process, etc.

At the end of the camp there will be a showing of these casts. Depending on how many people are participating and how much content is produced we may need to find groupings of the casts and have simultaneous showings.
Also I would like to have several audio listening areas so that the audiocasts can have fair listening.

Watching is fun - but the point is to get feedback, and this is where everyone can contribute. These showings will be evaluated. The details on how they will be evaluated and what kind of evaluation will be done needs to be fleshed out.
Some possible ideas:
  • Where would you enjoy watching/seeing this
  • How would you categorize this
  • How would you promote this? (Would you promote this?)
  • What would you want to see more of/less of?
These are just ideas off the top of my head, but the purposes of the evaluations include giving casters things to think about to improve their work and thinking about what the next steps for casting are.

And that brings me to the second part of the camp. 'Casting has been going on long enough that it is time to ask where are we going next. There are plenty of blog posts on "getting out of the fishbowl", "How do we monetize", "How do we get distribution" and other areas. Its time to talk about these questions and think about next steps and how we reach those next steps. This is where ideally we will have not only podcasters but people who distribute media and promote media - both old and new - as well as business people and others who want to join the conversation.

So in addition to making content and evaluating it, we will be thinking about what 'casting means and where it is going.

What sessions go here? Well that's also to be fleshed out. Some ideas:
  • Monetizing podcasts - how to? should you? what is the impact on monetizing?
  • Out of the fishbowl - How do we get visibility beyond the already interested parties, like to those who's view of new media is "Oh yeah my husband forwards me YouTube videos" (Real quote from someone who is a film critic and has written a book on such.)
  • How audio content is different between mediums?
  • Social implications - Are we in an age of meritocracy? How do we preserve such a democratization of media - or is this destined to fade away like other moments of meritocracy? What differences does the easy 'casting present to how we learn information and share information?
  • Etc.

And then of course from these discussions and evaluations I would like to see the discussion continue, whether in living rooms, meetups, or in other ways.

But for all of this we need to come together and create this event and share in this event.

Get involved!
So if you are in the Boulder/Denver Area and are interested in a Local, Participatory, Discussive event let me know. If you want to help create it - really make sure you let me know.

Feel free to leave me a comment below or send me an email: I'm goldiekatsu at gmail

Thoughts on Location and Local

I mentioned PodcampXL and an interest in doing one locally back in July which is when Eric Rice first mentioned it. Its nice that I was interested, but until now not much had happened with that.

Recently I took a road trip, which was prompted in part by a need to reflect on where I am and where I am going. Of the many topics of thought one was about location and community. Between twitter and Second Life, and the chatrooms of BlogTV, Ustream and Operator 11, and the recent advent of Seesmic a lot of what I think of as my community and my friends with like interests are found all over the globe. This in and of itself is not a bad thing. We are living in an increasingly global society, that is one of the effects of fast ubiquitous communication. However, when it comes at the expense of the local community that is a problem.

Sure I do have friends locally and a community that I live within, but the majority of the local community has no idea what I'm talking about when I talk about global friends, video on the net, cool new technologies, and the desire to think deeply of the consequences and future of these technologies. For that discussion I go to the net.

The network will always have a broader pool of people with similar interests. Yet at the same time the ease of finding such people with such interests over the network sometimes causes a person to overlook the local. Case in point, I was visiting Seesmic in San Francisco and Loic pointed out that there were a lot of seesmicers in Colorado. I had noticed that, but the truth is that I have not yet met any of them. In a sense it is kind of silly. People with similar interests are living (figuratively) in my own back yard and yet we wave from the distance over video.

So...that brings me back to PodcampXL. I know, it sounds like a super big podcamp (extra large) but as Eric Rice describes it the focus is local, extra local perhaps? Community comes together from doing things together. Sure gatherings are nice but what seems like the next step for me is to start working on this PodcampXL. It is inspired by podcamp but the focus is participation and presentation - of one sort or another - by all. I'd like to see this PodcampXL be the start of something rather than just a great event. Afterwards I'd like to keep the discussions going the working together going. How that works isn't clear to me, but it shouldn't be - it should come organically from the process of the PodcampXL.

Rather than describe the ideas of how I envision PodcampXL and make everyone scroll through my thoughts I will write more on my PodcampXL idea in the next post.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Now Back to a more Text Based bit of Blogging

I have moved most of the Utterz off of this blog. If you would like to listen to my audio Utterz, mostly thoughts while I'm on the road., feel free to stop by my page on Utterz.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Made it home

Starting mileage was 138881
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Mobile post sent by goldiekatsu using Utterz Replies.

Echo Resevoir

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Mobile post sent by goldiekatsu using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Public, Private and Otherwise

As most of you probably know I am active on Twitter and Seesmic and Facebook and other web 2.0y sites. One of the themes that have been coming up a lot is about how we build relationships over these mediums. Loic Le Meur compares Seesmic to us all living together or being in the same room. Jeff Pulver calls it his social media living room.

I will admit I have some of those feelings. With these instant communication mediums we see into people's lives: Moments with their children, questions they have in life, ceremonies and celebrations, issues they think are important, what they are having for dinner or when they are drinking coffee. We develop a certain intimacy while never really being there physically. I mean, the ideal is that I will meet my Seesmic and Twitter friends but so far I have not.

That said, these living rooms, and bedrooms and kitchens we see are being shared on the public internet. Each tweet gets indexed by Google and our visages and words are easily brought up in a search. So that begs the question, how much do we share in public, even as we have the feel of a private space?

Last night, while my internet was down, I wrote up a post explaining why I haven't been posting which included the personal story of my past year, and ending with basically "I've been thinking lots, still have questions, am not satisfied, but time to get posting again." As you might note that post is not here. That might change, but putting those details down in my blog seemed to be too much of an exposure.

Now there are a a few points that make a blog differ from a Seesmic post or a tweet. My blog is, in a sense, where a person would go to find out more about me. Sure they might check my tweets or videos, but those sort of stream by. It is a public statement, but with so much volume as to make the information a bit of blur - at least for a human reviewing the data. So a statement here is a bit more permanent and likely read. Also, other than bits of data that slip I rarely share my questions and doubts and challenges with others, so perhaps I am just a bit less likely than most to share.

But I wonder how much people chose to show of their inner side. What makes someone comfortable to share the information? When is it appropriate? Is this sense of "private" and "public" a generational thing? a cultural thing? Do we become less sensitive to that boundary as we share more often, more consistently and more in private public areas? Or do we, in our minds, come up with our personal boundary - that we many not be aware of - and share freely on one side, and keep private what is on the other? And how do these boundaries, and the ubiquitousness of the social milieu affect how we interact in our actual private lives and relationships?

Right now all I have are questions, but I thought I would share them with you. Let me know your thoughts.