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Michael considered fate at 17:15   |   Permalink   |   Post a Comment
Warning: Technobabble ahead.

First off, there is now yet another search engine on the internet but this time it's not just a rehash of your same-old same-old. It's a textual search for audio speech called Podzinger. What does it do? Why it searches the full text of podcasts, of course! From
Podzinger is a service that aggregates hundreds of thousands of episodes of podcasts, converts the entire text of the casts to text, and then delivers a searachable index. You go to Podzinger, search for a search, and you get back all the podcasts that have mentioned that term -- along with embedded players that can play you back the whole podcast, or just those segments where the keywords are mentioned. In a nutshell, this lets you do Tehcnorati-style full-text searching of podcasts, treating them like textual blog-entries.
What's even niftier about this is that it's based on some "de-militarized" technology from DARPA EARS's program (Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text).. I guess the gov'ment is good for something after all. (I jest - let's not forget the internet's birth is thanks to those same squirrely secret-keeping spooks - yah for advanced research projects).

"So what?" you might ask and well you should. If you're my average reader than you either a) don't know what a podcast is, b) have never listened to a podcast, c) have listened and just gon't "get it", or d) couldn't give a rats ass about what I'm talking about.

Well, you should give a rats ass because podcasting is basically akin to public access television in the 70's and 80's except it's far more accessible, less expensive, and easier to distribute to very large audiences. Certainly some may argue that most podcasts - like blogs - will never find anything close to what you would define as a "wide audience" but I might point out that this was basically true of PATV. While some may find this to be a good reason to not give a rats ass others might find this truly liberating. Until big media gets it's grubby hands on this technology you basically have free reign over a multitude of shows - both video and audio - with which to wet your appetite for more grass roots programming.

Take, for example, TikiBarTV. If you aren't familiar with it let me give a synopsis: It's a short video podcast featuring a new mixed drink each episode. New episodes come out somewhat irregularly and are usually about 4 minutes long. If you've come this far you might ask "What?" and I'll tell you: I'm not watching for it's mixed drink recipes. It's hilariously funny sketch comedy. There is a hot babe, a good looking doctor, a goofy bartender and yes, sometimes, there are even robots.

As far as people can tell TikiBarTv is filmed somewhere in BC most likely in the Vancouver area. There is clearly no corporate funding for this show; it's just something the actors/producers enjoy doing.

What else? The entirety of Burn, a science fiction novella by James P. Kelly is now available as an audiobook podcast. James has been releasing a new chapter each week for the last 16 weeks and now it's finally done. If you dig scifi, or are even mildly interested, check it out. That's the beauty of the medium right now; it's free and easy and with ubiquitous broadband anyone can fill their favourite mp3 player, burned cd, or computer with interesting choices that you just can't get through mainstream channels.

These last two examples are complete random picks. Lots of news is available from the likes of 60 minutes, NPR, APM's Marketplace, and many more. Online sources abound as well like

Sure, not everyone liked PATV. In fact we had a late-night show in my town which showed someone mowing their lawn for 30 minutes every night - questionable usage of energy and other resources. But podcasts are clearly a huge improvement. You watch/listen when you want. It's global (excpet, perhaps, holdouts like China). Best of all there is a living, breathing, community out there that will happily slaughter anything not worth it's weight and raise to the pedestal that which is great.

A good example is Ricky Gervais' chit-chat podcast which earlier this year received a Guinness record for the most downloaded podcast with 261k in one month. Sure, the guy created a hit TV show in the UK which has resulted in a US spinoff. He's obviously above and beyond PATV celebrity status. The doors are not as quick to open for us small guys, but it's happening.

Additionally, podcasts are only a small portion of what some people like to call the World Live Web; the ever-changing, evolving, growing information available online (think blogs, newspaper content, product offerings / sales, etc). There is a large disjoint between this and the static web, which is far easier to search (yet starting to trail behind the live web in it's usefulness and everyday usage). Only recently have tools such as Technorati (blog searching) and Podzinger been introduced. Even while we still struggle with old tech (the static web and google vs. china vs. yahoo vs. the U.S. gov'ment) we are also experiencing the growing pains of technology advancement (the world live web). Doc Searls outlines this quite well in a recent post:
This morning I wanted to find a piece where I quoted Terry Heaton about unbundling. That brought up a goose egg on Google. So did leaving my name out of the search. I got farther with Terry Heaton and Unbundled, but not to what I wrote about the subject.

So I looked around my hard drives and found a draft of the piece, with the phrase "This morning, fortuitously". The top result on Google got me to —
Doc Searls' IT Garage - 5:08am
This morning, fortuitously, he treats us to some important wisdom in 2006: The
Unbundled Awakening. Here are the core paragraphs: ... - 28k - Cached - Similar pages - Remove result
Which was helpful, because I could read the cached page and then locate it in IT Garage.

But there was no direct link to the original piece.

Yahoo brought many more results, all around IT Garage, but nothing on the first page pointing sraight to the piece.

So I tried some Live Web engines.

While some of the engines found nothing, Blogpulse, Google Blogsearch and Technorati each found exactly what I was looking for.

These results highlight the differences between the Static Web and the Live Web
End Note: CNN was wrong in their predictions of Apple's new product announcments this week. Their picks:
  1. A True Video iPod
  2. Intel Mac Mini
  3. Widescreen iBook
  4. iTunes Movie Store
The reality:
  1. iPod Hi-Fi (a boombox for your iPod)
  2. Intel Mac Mini (single and dual core)
  3. iPod leather case..
Uhhh.. bravo, Apple innovators. This is the sort of failure to live up to expectation that sends people to alternate, often smaller, brands:
The question has become how much extra consumers are willing to pay for the difference in quality or brand reassurance. Recent surveys show consumers often name price over brand as their main buying criterion in electronics
This is certainly nothing new but rather something that companies like Apple need to remember. Don't forget that Apple's position as "the most innovative company of the past 75 years" (as named by 500 "senior-level business executives" in a poll for BusinessWeek's 75th anniversary) is chiefly a measure of their performance over the last few years. Though perhaps they should get credit for introducing GUI advancements and accessories such as mice to the consumer market back in the 80's, the truth is nobody remembers that far back. Right now they're riding the iPod wave and that wave is as fickle as any in this fast moving market.

The connection between these problems that Apple must remember and the growing pains of the live web are, in some ways, very very similar. Nevertheless, I'll leave you to ponder that on your own.

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Check out heroecs, the robotics team competition website of my old supervisor's daughter. Fun stuff!
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