Happy Birthday, IT Conversations
On June 5, 2003, I announced IT Conversations on my blog with two interviews. One of them was with Phil Windley, who is now (among other things) the Executive Producer and voice of IT Conversations. Amazing how Phil and I have gone full circle. During these five years we created The Conversations Network and achieved these milestones:
It's the last day of presidential primaries and Barack Obama is about to be declared the Democratic "presumptive nominee." (Tired of that phrase yet?) But despite the non-stop cable-TV coverage, there is more going on. To bring you coverage of the 2008 U.S. elections that you won't find anywhere else, we've teamed up with our friends at the Public Radio Exchange (prx.org) for '08 Conversations, a new channel on The Conversations Network. This week's show is with syndicated columnist Jules Witcover, about campaign finance reform. Two other shows published during our soft launch of '08 Conversations are about John Edwards and Ron Paul.
StackOverflow Joins IT Conversations
I'm thrilled to announce that StackOverflow, a weekly podcast with software-development gurus Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky, has joined IT Conversations. Episode #8 (the first on our network) was published yesterday.
StackOverflow is an informal two-person chat. But don't confuse this series with rambling podcasts you may find on the 'Net. Phil Windley and I invited Jeff and Joel to bring their show to IT Conversations because of them. They're two of the most highly regarded members of the software-development community.
The Conversations Network -- Phase 2
The mission of The Conversations Network is to publish online, free to all, the most educational, inspirational and entertaining spoken-word events that would otherwise simply evaporate – be lost forever. We’ve succeeded in that mission, but only with a few niche channels such as IT Conversations and Social Innovation Conversations. As we look to apply what we’ve learned to address a far wider scope – encompassing spoken-word events of all types, on any topic and in many languages – we can’t simply expand the current model. While our processes, tools and team could scale by a factor of perhaps 10x, that’s still just a drop in the bucket of the programs we’d like to help make available. We need an entirely different approach. Our next challenge isn’t merely to scale what we’ve done by one or even two orders of magnitude, but rather to scale it infinitely and thereby enable virtually every event, no matter where or how small, to find its way to the Internet and from there to anyone who might want to see, hear or read it. To achieve this goal The Conversations Network will evolve from being strictly a producer/publisher to an enabler of others, offering a wide range of assistance to any legitimate organization or individual who needs our help. We will enable the publication of spoken-word events in three ways:
Evolution: Phase 1 of The Conversations Network has emphasized a top-down model in which all programs are curated, post-produced, published and distributed by our own staff and on our own web sites. The quality has been high and we’ve built loyal audiences, but we’ve also become a scarce resource – a gatekeeper. Although our post-production costs are very low, we still require an audience of at least 10,000 listeners to each program in order to pay for the publication of that program through a mix of membership dues and underwriting sponsorships. When our IT Conversations channel pioneered publishing conferences on the Internet in early 2004, many of the required technologies were in their infancies. We had to invent some of them ourselves. Important tools such as our Levelator software, which we distribute for free, are now used by tens of thousands of amateurs and professionals alike in the daily production of spoken-word programs. There are still some missing pieces in the start-to-finish process of recording, producing and publish events, but the tools and know-how are far more widespread than even just a few years ago. As we’ve researched the expansion of our curated-content production model into additional verticals, we’ve increasingly found that others have begun to make substantial progress. If you look hard enough, you can now find a podcast or videoblog covering almost any topic. But while online-media publishing is simpler than it was four years ago, there are still areas in which people need help. Relatively few lectures, meetings, conferences, speeches and debates are readily available to all. Our plan for Phase 2 is therefore to leverage our expertise by helping others in the production, publication and distribution processes rather than provide a single-source solution as we have done until now. In this way, we will serve far more events and reach a much larger audience than we have under our current (Phase 1) model.
Publishing Challenges: The following are the areas in which we will help others produce and publish spoke-word events:
And for listeners, viewers and readers:
During Phase 1 we solved these problems for our own channels and under our own brand. In Phase 2, The Conversations Network will continue to address the full life-cycle of publishing spoken-word events on line, but through an á la carte menu of wholesale services (most of which will be free) from which others can pick and choose according to their needs.
The Phase 2 á la Carte Menu: Here are examples of the services we plan to make available under The Conversations Network Phase 2:
This free podcast is from our The Conversations Network Announcements series.