With the end of the year coming soon (in academia; our system has been slowing to a halt as the semester ends, faculty leave, e-mail volume plummets, and parking spaces become abundant), I am trying to avoid end of the year wrap=up or next year prognostication.

However, I do feel some urge to think a bit more about interesting uses of audio technology, obviously including, but not only, podcasting. Audio seems to be becoming prime time, and not because it seems like the iPod to earth citizen ratio is approaching 1.0 (that is a bad joke, and skewed to Western countries, hopefully tongue in cheek, and obviously so).

Over the last few months, without too much extreme effort, I’ve been able to increase the availability of information presented at meetings, demos, etc via a podcast set up (more on details of the how to on Podcast Setup With MovableType). My recording is crude (a small but versatile iRiver MP3 recording), with minimal editing in Audacity and some really unevenly recording intros and out endings. Hey, it is supposed to be amateur, right?

We published our online journal, the iForum, with a suite of audio interviews.

What I’ve not been able to dabble with, and I would like to do more, is seeing how well the cool Skype killer, Gizmo does for recording internet voice chats. In fact, I have been thinking about what a great project it would be to hook up some people involved with storytelling to try some of their audio craft over the net, or perhaps have some sort of interactive story sharing activity done with a shared Gizmo call.

It would be minimal technology (and free) to use and a fantastic way of connecting cultures.

Also, on the audio front, I just swiped this type posted by D’Arcy (who got it from Cole) about linking Podcast feeds also with the itpc:// url protocol, so that links will automagically send the RSS feed URL to iTunes for processing. No more copy pasting of RSS URLs, for those blessed with iTunes.

I’ve added it to the RSS pile on the CDB sidebar. I use an Audiocast category to “tag” my blogged audio, so you can get the audi in archive listing, RSS feed, and now, iTunes link/feed.

Given the broad media reach of iTunes (commercials, in stores, electronics ads, gift cards in grocery stores), it would seem likely iTunes might be making a solid toe hold in Windows desktops. Not sure if that really means anything, but the evolution of iTunes, its feature set, built in podcast support, tie ins to the data from the Apple Store, has some possible impact on the future development of media access tools. You might say it’s become somewhat of a platform

I’m also mulling over video, and have put in my order for a new iPod, so I can conduct crucial technology research. Seriously, I have been spending some time converting our collection of faculty created digital stories, currently available in streaming QuickTime and Windows Media, to also offer an option to get them in the new *.w4v file format made for the video iPod. And I hope to be working with our faculty that teach these courses, on a new database driven site that will be more of a stocked digital story jukebox, searchable, syndicated, etc.

While I am playing with video, I think it stills bear mention that music and video are vastly different media in terms of how they are processed (viewed), in that I can listen to audio while doing other things, but video requires more of a full attention. And the hurdle for content creation, while becoming lower all the time on video, is still a bit higher than audio. Both have their place, and offer great opportunity for educators, but I am not convinced you can take the mad rush over iPods/iTunes and apply it to video. Not yet.

The post "Thinking About Audio" was originally squeezed out of the bottom of an old rusted tube of toothpaste at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2005/12/thinking-about-audio/) on December 20, 2005.

5 Comments

  • Alan,

    This semester, my pre-service English teachers at Grand Valley State University (Michigan) used podcasts as alternatives to book talks–that is, they wrote audio reviews of Y.A. novels, pitched toward secondary students.

    The results were good, if uneven. I had never podcasted before, so I had no models to show them, except for what they could find online or at itunes. If you’re interested, check out a few of their podcasts at my blog You can download them from http://secondaryworlds.com/?p=138 or listen to streaming versions at http://secondaryworlds.com/?page_id=144
    My favorite is the one on “Feed” by M.T. Anderson.

    What I hope is that my students get their own students to create podcasts someday, perhaps in response to literature or as an alternative to a print-based writing assignment.

  • Wow, thanks for sharing these excellent examples of audio expression. They are very creative.

    I’d be curious to know how the assignment was set up, and what kinds of efforets went into the research and production.

    Thanks again!

  • Hi Alan, before you jump fully on Gizmo, be sure to check out PowerGramo, which beautifully records Skype calls. The free version records a standard two-way call, and the pay version supposedly does conference calls. It’s got one annoying feature that I talk about on my blog at http://distlib.blogs.com/distlib/2005/12/followup_on_pow.html but it’s most definately worth a look.

  • Thanks for the tip Paul. PowerGramo has a rather limited use in it being Windows only.

    I work mostly on a Mac, and I have done a fair bit of Skype Recording with an extra application (Ambrosia software’s WireTap Pro for OSX) which records all in and out sounds.

    However, the issues you raise in my blog make me even more hesitant- the default to be recording, the non notification of the other party, and worst, the evil, evil evil practice of asserting ads iin the chat window under your name. Yuck.

    I’m not full on Gizmo yet- especially since the Skype Audience is much larger.

    It’s a fast moving target, eh?

  • Will Richardson weblogg-ed.com

    Hey Alan…Happy Holidays. I hear you about powergramo, but it does do a nice job. I just posted a recording that I used it for. An alternative might be http://www.hotrecorder.com/index.asp though I don’t know about the MAC issue. Thanks for teaching me much this year. Maybe we’ll finally meet in 2006.

    All the best,

    Will