Guidelines for Blog Hosted Conversations

I notice quite a few bloggers have started podcasting. Some of them just have the gift of gab, and their narration comes across crisp and effortless. Quite a few have music taking up much of the ‘program’. That’s something I’m not sure makes sense — if you want to listen to someone’s favourite music there are other ways to do it — like WebJay (you link to free music on the Web, and they host if for you free) or Live365 (you upload copyright music, and your own mp3 chat if you want, you broadcast it subject to certain restrictions, and you pay the host $25/month or so to store and host your playlists). But musical tastes can be pretty personal, and some of my favourite people have taste in music that is, er, a lot different from mine.

You visit blogs for the words (and sometime the graphics) not the music, so I think the best subject for podcasts is what I have called Blog-Hosted Conversations (BHCs). If I’m in the car or the subway, or sitting outside in the dark (or inside in firelight or candlelight) where reading is difficult, I might be up for listening to a simple narration of a blog, provided it was not too link- or graphic-dependent. But what would get me listening for sure, instead of reading, would be a conversation, one that was either (a) informative or (b) entertaining.

That means:

  1. The people involved need to be either knowledgeable or clever.
  2. The conversation stream probably needs to be edited (gently, just to close the gaps and eliminate the more embarrassing misstatements).
  3. The people involved need to plan the conversation in advance — lay it out as an interview or debate, or decide who’s going to speak about what, decide what questions or subjects will be addressed and in what order.
  4. It needs to be timed so that it lasts no more than an hour (and ideally, not more than half an hour) yet still covers the ground properly.
  5. It can’t be over-rehearsed or over-scripted or it will come out wooden.
  6. The subject-matter should lend itself to a conversational style (no need for graphic aids, no need to jump back to something mentioned earlier, no need to read other links etc.)
  7. Probably no music.

What’s missing here? What other ‘principles for a good BHC’ should be added?

This is a collaboration task more than a writing task, so some of us are going to be better at it than others.

I’m not a techie, so I can’t recommend what software to use to record your conversation (ideally you’ll want to use Skype or some other tool with minimal background noise, so the conversation sounds ‘live and in person’. You’ll need some other software tool to edit the stream, and yet another to convert the file into an mp3 file. Then (assuming it’s over 1 MB in size) you’ll need to find a place to host it (most weblogs won’t host long mp3 files). And then you’ll need to configure your blog to display and to RSS-feed the file (here’s what a fellow Radio Userland podcaster had to do to do this). Finally, if you’re so inclined, you can register your podcasts with any of the podcast directories that link to your programmes and allow others to RSS-subscribe to them. If anyone has any advice on any of these technical steps, I would welcome it — I’m going to stick to talking about content.

Here’s my first crack at a list of topics (in no particular order) I think would make interesting conversations, and the people who immediately come to mind to interview or converse with about each topic:

  1. How could we make the Gift Economy work? (Rob Paterson)
  2. Intuitive intelligence (Cyndy R)
  3. Creating an Intentional Community. (?)
  4. All about Open Space. (Chris Corrigan)
  5. Do you need a personal coach? (Dilys C)
  6. Why we need AHA! (Dave Davison)
  7. A poetry reading, and a discussion on what makes poetry ‘good’. (Aleah Sato)
  8. Does college matter? (Kathy Sierra)
  9. Making use of rooftops. (Doug Alder)
  10. The basics of meditation. (Indigo Ocean)
  11. The dangers of oligopoly (Steve Hannaford)
  12. Corporate anorexia. (Mark Brady)
  13. Conversation on conversation; or Being authentic. (Amy Gahran)
  14. How to be heard. (Stephen Downes)
  15. The ten best tools for innovation. (Chuck Frey)
  16. Simple virtual presence. (Stu Henshall and Robin Good)
  17. What’s next? (Jeremy Heigh)
  18. How to be an environmentalist without starving. (Gil Friend)
  19. How to save the world (Eric B)
  20. Reserved for you (you pick the topic)

These are things that I’d be interested in talking with these people about, of course, not necessarily things they would want to talk about. Mostly they’re not so deep they can’t be covered successfully in 30 minutes to an hour, and they’re things that I think people would find interesting to listen to. What do you think?

If your name’s not on the list above, please don’t feel slighted. These are just the first topics that came to mind, with names attached afterwards. If your name doesn’t appear, it may be that I don’t think I know you well enough, or that I guessed you might be uncomfortable. Correct me if I’m wrong!

I’d like to start doing these this fall, say, one a week, recorded on a Sunday and released the following day. Would you tune in?

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13 Responses to Guidelines for Blog Hosted Conversations

  1. Chris Hardie says:

    Here’s the setup of using Skype to conduct audio interviews for podcasts that I’ve been working on getting going myself. Kind of technical if you’re not already familiar with the software, but a great howto and nice component diagram. Here’s a variation that talks about just creating podcasts with Skype under Windows XP [PDF]. Also, a few of my own thoughts on this non-fad fad known as podcasting.

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Wow — great stuff, Chris. Thanks!

  3. Once I get around to being podcast-friendly? Yes, I’d listen to probably half of these topics, maybe more. Anything that affects me on a personal, daily basis is worth listening to.

  4. Aleah says:

    I turn my head for a moment and get signed up. LOL. Great idea, Dave. Count me in.

  5. Yule Heibel says:

    Re. bandwidth issues related to hosting large audiofiles, perhaps something like Dijjer would be useful? (Via Couros Blog.) Meanwhile, the EdTech Posse has been doing a lot with podcasts (which I admittedly haven’t had time to listen to), especially technically in terms of setting up group podcasts. CourosBlog is part of EdTech Posse, so you’d find several cross-links, etc. The “have time to listen to” aspect would be a biggie for me. I don’t have an iPod or any portable mp3 player, and there’s no way I’d find the time to sit by my computer to listen to a podcast. I can skim an article quickly, bookmark it, etc., but taking the time for an audiocast? That’s a huge hurdle unless you have the portable technology.

  6. says:

    Okay, Dave. When’s good for you?Excellent info Chris, thanks. And, Aleah–do limericks count as poetry?–fouro/mark brady.

  7. Amy Gahran says:

    Wow, Dave, I’m honored to be on your list. And I like your approach. You’re on! Let’s set an appointment for the discussion.Also, food for topical thought: You might want to check out my new survey which explores people’s online professional/personal comfort zone. That might be fun to mull over in a conversation, too.- Amy Gahran Editor, CONTENTIOUS

  8. I’m in…as a conversant and as a listner.

  9. Susan says:

    I would welcome a podcast from you. I find myself skimming your blog because I don’t have time to read in depth but the thoughts are too interesting to not at least skim. If you put these ideas in a podcast, you’ll come to the gym with my or follow me around while I tackle jobs I don’t do unless I have something interesting to distract me.

  10. Sandy says:

    What Susan said!

  11. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I will play around with the technology in September and put together a schedule to start at the beginning of October.

  12. dave davison says:

    dave – got around to this by searching the blog site for ” bloghosted conversations” which I am very interested in pursuing. Have you moved ahead with this “next big thing”?

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