Sunday, March 12, 2006

How [and Why] to Podcast an Event

This panel included moderator John Allsop from, Matt May from, Maxine Sherrin (Web Essentials), and Alex Williams (Courante). The topic was discussing the pros and cons of podcasting an event. Allsop explained that podcasting can make an event more asynchronous, allowing people to attend that cannot physically do so and can't do so at the live time of the event. Allsop has a blog at that collected comments during this session.

Williams first comment was a very important one, "always have a backup." He also stated that you should know your podcast team (sound engineers and AV teams), and be very confident in their abilities. He said that many of these experts don't really understand podcasting.

Allsop said that if you have any kind of an event where someone is speaking, it is worth podcasting, despite the technical problems/challenges. May talked about some of the technical solutions, particularly associated with audio levels and post production.

Sherrin organized the Web Essentials conference. They used GarageBand, and had a bad experience, lost 3 out of 15 sessions recorded. The result was disappointment for users and speakers. Her advice was to make sure that someone is responsible for watching the quality of the recording at every minute.

Williams said to seek the help of other podcasters, ask questions, find out about their lessons learned.

Allsop talked about bandwidth issues, both for users (download time) and for hosting (expense). He made a good point regarding the tradeoff between filesize and quality. Each of the panelist discussed what was "good enough" to satisfy their quality requirements and balance their cost to host. It's a good idea to record at a high level then post at lower quality levels. That way, you have a good quality original to work with for whatever needs you have in the future.

Eric Meyer was on the panel to talk about some of the downsides. He speaks at many events, and there are issues with intellectual property of the speakers words. There might be different ways that people prepare for an event, knowing that it will be podcast and kept for posterity. He still feels that the people at the event are the most important audience, but it might change speakers habits as podcasting becomes more prominent. I think this is interesting, because as an instructor, I have some of the same issues with students taping lectures or putting those tapes online. I wonder if that will change the nature of the lecture or the experience of the students in the course. Allsop also brought up the issue of copyright of material in a presentation, which might be fine when you are limited to presenting to a group of 300 in a room on a one-time basis, but change when it is put on the Web for perpetuity. May discussed some of the legal implications, particularly if the Web site to which the podcast is assigned begins to generate revenue or if you use copyrighted music on your Podcast.

He did say that certain events work well as podcasts, others don't. For example, the Malcolm Gladwell keynote from last year's SXSW or this year's interview with Henry Rollins would work well, but something like a demonstration that is very visual or if there are pauses to wait for audience input, these things might not be that interesting for a podcast listener. Williams mentioned that the future will be more people video podcasting, which will alleviate some issues and create new ones.

Williams also mentioned the importance of supplying links, shownotes, and resources to accompany podcasts.

One of the common feelings at this conference is the DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic. We are still in a period in which many are still figuring things out and are learning as they go. The Web provides good opportunities for a wide range of people to do so.

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