Obama’s Podcast Aint Bad

US Senator from Illinois Barack Obama has a podcast. It sounds really good. He’s mostly speaking as if he’s having a conversation with you. Fortunately it doesn’t come off like a pre-packaged speech. I really felt like I got to know him better. There is something about the human voice that can touch you this way. But it’s obvious he knows what he wants to say and has said it before. This podcast is an excellent way to learn about his politics and issues in general.

Now that US national politicians are adopting podcasting – are they working for bottom up control of government or just using the latest hyped communication medium?

Senators, let me hip you to something. Podcasting didn’t come about to reinvent radio and PR. Podcasting was nurtured on the energy of individuals with their own messages. This is the very core of a grassroots democracy. Share more of your process of governing with all the people who live in America. (Citizens and non-citizens) Let them have a hand in your government. Let them be creative! For tips on how to do this look at how local politics are conducted. I’m talking about a town or county level. Reproduce that nationally!

Podcast Academy at Boston University

On Friday April 28 and Saturday April 29 Boston Univesity will be hosting Podcast Academy. Here is the schedule. It’s being put on by Doug Kaye of IT Conversations and The Conversations Network.

From their site: “The Podcast Academy will provide guidance on how to create, distribute and use podcasts. The Academy schedule offers basic “how to” classes for beginners as well as advanced classes for more seasoned professionals. Expert instructors will explain the mechanics of creating podcasts, getting and using the right equipment, coming up with a style for your podcast and then distributing it to the right audience.”

Looks like a good event. Nice to see people out there teaching others. I hope PodcasterCon 2007 will have lots of hands on learning.

Helping Kids Create Podcasts

This past Saturday I went to the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Greensboro, Central Unit. I spoke with several adult staff members and kids to shed some light on podcasting. We started off by talking about what they wanted to know and what their plans were. The Boys and Girls Club has a small computer lab with several PC laptops and a video projector. Some of the machines had the free open source software Audacity.

Then I played some examples of audio and video podcasts. I started with some podcasts made by adults. Then I played them some ‘casts made by kids. But what they all really wanted to do was record audio. So that’s what we did.

The laptops had built in mics. Audacity had already been configured by their computer support guy Aaron Thompson. He even had the lamelib mp3 encoder installed and recognized by Audacity. I did a short recording demonstration then the kids took over. I am constantly amazed at how proficient kids are with computers. They can MOVE around software fast!

First they recorded themselves saying their names. Then they decided to say their names, what school they went to, and what they wanted to be when the grew up. The first recordings were a bit distorted. This was mainly because the recording levels were a bit high and they were so close to the mic. Those built in computer mics are sensitive!

We adjusted the recording levels in Audactity and in the Windows sound control panel. I then explained that another way to control the levels of a recording is to change the distance of your mouth to the microphone. So we stepped back from the laptop a bit and recorded a few more examples. After that we reviewed how to save your project, how to export an mp3 from the audio you just recorded, and even what ID3 tags were.

That really was bunch for one day so we wrapped it up and eat some pizza. (It was snowing a bunch too) Next time we’ll discuss what to do with the audio in order to podcast it.

I had a great time and am excited about working with these kids again. It got me thinking about how there must be a lot more kids who would like making podcasts. Maybe I’ll work on a series of hands on podcasting workshops for kids. This might be a cool thing to do at PodcasterCon 2007.

Thanks to Ndesanjo Macha [for inviting me], Aaron Thompson, Ann Robinson, the kids, and everyone who attended. 😀

Find Podcasters at UNC

People at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill are working to help students and the world find podcasts made at UNC. (or by people/events associated with UNC)

To help with this I just set up a public web based aggregator for podcasts at UNC called UNC Podcasters. You can listen to podcasts right in a web browser with flash player, click on a link to download the podcast (mp3, mov, etc.), and find RSS podcast feeds you’re interested in. It’s still a beta site so we don’t have a ton of feeds up yet, but soon.

Right now it is not multi-user. This means you can’t create an account yet. But hopefully in the future you’ll be able to log-in and create your own feed list. ala Bloglines. So if you’re part of the UNC community and you have a podcast send me your RSS feed URL.

The UNC Podcasters aggregator is based on the latest nightly build of the great software Gregarius. (Feb. 15) Ibiblio.org is hosting the list and the site for us. (Thanks guys!)

In the spirit of open source development at Universities I hope we can add to this wonderful bit of software. I’m hoping PHP developers at UNC can work on the Gregarius project. There are so many good reasons to build the tool so it fits our unique needs and then give it back to the world for others to benefit. For starters it could could save the University a ton of money!

Discover, Report, Share

Discover, Report, Share is a mantra for grassroots media makers. (aka citizen journalists, grassroots journalists, etc.) This podcast is a recording of my talk at the International Symposium on Local e-Democracy on July 26, 2005. I felt like I should re-podcast it for people to hear. Check out my tutorials page for more info on how to make your own media.

MP3 7m 53s 3.7MB 64kbps

Interview with Mike Hachey of Student Action with Workers

Emiliano ZapataThis podcast is an interview with undergraduate Mike Hachey of Student Action with Workers. We discussed the circumstances leading up to a march and rally they held last wednesday at the Lenoir Dining hall at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Students are mobilizing support for worker-led campaigns to achieve collective bargaining and a living wage. They’re working at the request of dining hall workers, who are employees of the subcontractor Aramark corporation and not the University (an important distinction since state employees have limited collective bargaining rights).

We also discussed the specifics of “team cleaning,” a new unfair management practice that forces workers to perform one repetitive task for eight hours straight. It’s stated goal in company literature is to increase revenue for the University by eliminating jobs, despite the promise to workers from management that it won’t.

We discussed what students, staff, and faculty can do to join the workers in their struggle and lots more. I hope to record more conversations with Mike in the future. Check out the UNC labor history time line on Wikipedia.

MP3 25m 28s 11.7MB 64Kbps 44.1Mhz

Celebrating King’s Birthday with Rev. Barber

Today Ruby and I went to the annual Martin Luther King Jr. day rally and church service in Chapel Hill. We walked up to the post office where the towns rallies are usually held and listened to several local politicians, activists, pastors, students, and raging grannies. (The raging grannies are a group of liberal singing senior citizens. I never knew any liberal senior citizens before I moved to Chapel Hill… Wow.)

The highlight of my day was hearing Rev. Dr. William Barber II speak. Rev. Barber is the new president of the North Carolina conference of the NAACP. The theme of his sermon was “Silence is Betrayal”. It’s a quote from Martin Luther King’s speech at Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967. Dr. King was speaking out against an “unjust, evil and futile war” in Vietnam. Rev. Barber was speaking out against the “unjust, evil and futile war” in Iraq. The parallels between that time and now are scary. I’m so happy we have strong people to speak the truth. No matter how hard it is for some people to hear.

Bellow is a podcast Ruby and I recorded of our feelings of today events. Ruby has also blogged about it over at lotusmedia.org.

January 16 is now my favorite day of the year. I felt as if I might cry the whole time I was listening to Rev. Barber. Not tears of sadness but of relief that someone who could so eloquently and captivatingly tell all these people that WE MUST SPEAK UP!

MP3 13m 36s 6.3MB 64Kbps 44.1Mhz