Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Interview with Mark Fonseca about podcasting for development

Today we had a training on podcasting from Mark Fonseca Rendeiro. A podcast is audio (or video) with an RSS feed so that it allows for easy subscription by readers, it was only invented in 2004! (so hey, we can still be early adopters :)... Listeners can download the new episodes automatically, for instance by using itunes. I really liked his sense of humour, and we had an extremely practical training so it was a fun day. We got lots of tips and made a real podcast in groups of 2. I interviewed Mark about "why should development organizations engage with podcasting?" If you click on the video, you can watch the 3 minutes response. Ironically, the audio is not too good, there is some funny noise...

Mark basically states that people need to know what's happening out there in the
world, and we can't rely on the mainstream media to provide us that information.
Development organizations can use podcasting to get their (non-mediated!)
messages out on the web. The challenge is how to get people to pay attention to
your podcasts.

On the e-collaboration group blog we will lateron post the practical tips and some of the lessons we learned, and hopefully our first podcasts! As a more visually oriented person (I don't even have an MP3 player) it was good to learn about podcasting and the way it may appeal to more audio-oriented persons. I would like to learn how to create the right balance of audio, text and video in design of online interactions. It seems possible to create interaction using audio files by allowing listeners to post feedback to podcasts through blogcomments, phonecall, and/or discussion forums. It was funny to hear that lots of podcasters try to imitate radio programs (including the music and fade ins- and outs) as that is the model they know.

It was easy to see that Mark is very fanatic about (and addicted to) audio podcasting, even more than I am to blogging. I realized that losts of people listen to podcasts, though mostly music. I'm curious to know what numbers of people listen to non-music podcasts. The huge advantage of an audio podcast compared to video or text is that you can listen to a podcast while doing something else (travelling by train, cooking, cycling). Mark has built his online network, as one of the early podcasters. He mentioned that he might go to Japan to visit one of his podcast friends. I think there are many people who don't realize that this is a new way of networking (and a new skill for employees?). For the early adopter podcasters, it was easy to have an audience, because there were few podcasters. But how will that be when the world will be as full of podcasts as it is with blogs? Quality content and finding your 'niche' audience (through networks) may become more important.

What I learned for my own blogging process: it was good to hear Mark confirm that blip.tv is a good choice to host videos. And we used audacity as free audio software, a program I had used before. A practice I will copy from Mark is to reread my blogposts. He mentioned that he relistens twice to his own podcasts. I usually throw my posts in the air. Rereading may be a good way of improving yourself. (also rereading old posts, when I occasionally do, I'm often ashamed..). I also learned that besides linking, choice of blogtitles is good for visibility in search engines.


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