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Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, May 17, 2005. Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Steve Gillmor may be back on the air as soon as tonight. Yehi! The Gang can't be far behind. Happy days are here again. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A late afternoon Morning Coffee Notes podcast (better late than never) about advertising in RSS, a vignette about the twisty world of 21st century radio, and an apology for the delay of the conversation-starters.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named smallbrain.gifWe guessed that the talks at the Syndicate conference would be filled with ads, and based on reports on the web, we weren't wrong. They didn't like being talked about on my blog, but all I was doing is what I always do, think out loud and involve everyone in my drama. That, by the way, is how you build interest in an event and keep people thinking. This afternoon I told myself I need to get my head examined for trying to help big companies get their ideas exposure in the weblog world. In the end, they just freak out and try to extert control and you end up at the beach while everyone else is at the conference. Maybe I made out okay, but I do miss my friends -- this is a conference I should have been at. Oh well, life goes on.  Permanent link to this item in the archive. is "the most comprehensive list of public radio podcasts on the Internet." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Billboard: Limbaugh Joins Podcasting CrowdPermanent link to this item in the archive.

SF Chronicle: "Podcasters took over a San Francisco radio station Monday, replacing traditional radio personalities like Don Imus with a homespun potpourri of shows featuring independent musicians, martini-making and mortality." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Google announces the beta of "AdSense for Feeds." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Sorry we're going to have to wait 24 hours for the conversation-starters to start the conversations. There's a bit more coordinating here than I would like, but I guess a few more hours won't hurt.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named topping.gifTwo conversation-starters for Team RSS today. The first is a suggestion for browser-makers: Microsoft, Firefox, Safari, Opera, et al, on how to simplify the subscription process in a powerful way. It's an answer to the hodgepodge of different one-offs that have emerged that don't really work. This one does work, and is complete, imho. The second is a design for turning outlines into feeds, or is it feeds into outlines? It's both and a dessert topping and a floor wax! Stay tuned folks, I'll have a podcast and a couple of docs, it should be an exciting day.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Peter Day: In Pod We TrustPermanent link to this item in the archive.

About Newsweek Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm vaguely aware that Newsweek stepped in something as nasty as the stuff CBS stepped in last year. I'm catching it out of the corner of my eye as I scroll through my River of News aggregator on a day when I'm busy creating news instead of reading news.

A picture named lemon.jpgI have a suggestion. Why don't we immediately assume that all press reports are at least as thinly sourced as the Newsweek story, and not make a big deal of it when we discover that one is. Instead, let's applaud the pros when they show evidence of diligence, multiple sourcing, and respect for what actually happened instead of what they think their editors will buy and what their readers will understand.

It's a new regime. Set expectations super-low. That way we can only be surprised by good news instead of bad. Make lemonade!

PS: Here's some synchronicity. I went looking for a picture of a lemon, and tripped over a picture of Cynsa Bonorris, who I worked with on the SF strike paper website in 1994, which I discuss below. She's part of a singing duet called Lemon Ju Ju. More godcasting for y'all.

It worked! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named accordianGuy.gifI got a call yesterday from a San Francisco reporter doing a story on KYOU on their debut day. It was a very interesting and lively talk, reminding me a lot of the talks we'd have in the Bay Area at the end of 1994, when the web was taking root in so many communities, including the newspaper writers, who went on strike and needed a way to get their words out to their readers. It turns out that was how SFGate was started, the website of the Chronicle. Anyway, my first experience with the web was working on the strike paper website, alongside Chris Gulker who was working on the management website, both of us competing to bootstrap something new. I was learning from the news writers who "got" the web better than any of us, the same way a radio guy today is excited by podcasting. Of course the really good ones are excited, because podcasting is the realization of the reason so many of them got into broadcasting in the first place. Radio people are an idealistic bunch, just as newspaper writers are, in general. What happened to the idealistic newspaper writers? I wish I knew. Did they all die in the last eleven years? Have they all become web people? Did they wake up one day and realize this idealism was interfering with their career path? It'd be interesting to hear people's theories.

Anyway, it turns out someone at KYOU has a sense of humor, or a sense of what's appropriate, because yesterday, during the drive time commute, they ran a podcaster who records his casts during his commute! Think about it. What a turnabout. Instead of being stuck in traffic listening to a predictable formulaic format, or at best Morning Edition on NPR, now the bored listeners are doing the programming. This struck me as amazing. The podcasting revolution has completed its mission in some sense, in a remarkably short period of time.

Let me tell you a story that explains why I feel this way. A couple of years ago stuck in Boston traffic listening to a yet another WBUR pledge drive and thinking about technology that could turn this crap off for people like me who pay their NPR bill like a utility bill, I finally figured something out when the station manager, Jane Cristo, came on and said something that would be often repeated in the days ahead (my guess is that their marketing people decided it would be the theme of the pledge drive). This is your station, she said. You're the owners. We depend on your to pay the bills, that way we are only responsible to you, and blah blah blah and on and on, in the usual repetitive pledge drive way of doing things.

This got me thinking. If I own this place, what can I do with it? So when I got into work I called the offices of WBUR and asked to speak with Ms Cristo. When asked who's calling, I gave my name, Dave Winer, and my role -- owner of the station. No one got the joke.

I did get to speak with a vice-president, and I asked the question, what can I do with my ownership, and seriously don't you think you should stop saying that since it's total bullshit? He sent me a station prospectus, kind of an annual report, with some nice pictures, glossy and puffy, and numbers that meant nothing to me.

Thinking more about it I realized that the role of an owner of a public radio station is twofold. You listen and you pay. Occasionally, if you don't mind waiting and getting totally nervous, you can call in and ask a question of an expert -- someone who is probably just saying politically correct bullshit, but you never get to speak, what you think isn't important, your job is to pay, and if you like, listen, while they lull you to sleep with their relaxing talk that's only intelligent when compared to the other crap that's on the radio.

So yesterday when I heard about the commuter musing about his mortality during drivetime while other San Franciscans were caught in the horrible traffic in the Bay Area, I let out a satisfied chuckle. I had lived long enough. I could now die a happy man. As they say in Apache Land when an install is successfully completed: It worked!


Last update: Tuesday, May 17, 2005 at 10:24 PM Eastern.

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