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LISNews is celebrating its 11th birthday. The podcast is getting set to celebrate its 3rd anniversary in a few weeks. As always it seems to be my perennial worry in production comes down to infrastructure.
We've had some major backbone failures recently. Our cable broadband provider had a major outage event Monday that has us offline for a while. The only other alternative locally for broadband is asynchronous digital subscriber line and even that has reliability issues locally. In the 17th of 50 states in what should arguably be considered a first-world nation, access to the Internet is hardly reliable at all. While there was an attempt in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to ameliorate such digital divide issues through the provision of grants, that entire funding program was scrapped to provide the funds to shore up local education agency budgets in the United States reportedly to prevent teacher layoffs.
For now we have GPRS service on a prepaid basis as a stopgap recovery measure in the event of a back-end failure. That is only a stopgap patch and is not a permanent fix. Air cards and the like are available out here but the network connectivity is at least two generations behind what you might find in your average urban metro. There are areas within easy driving distance that are some of the most remote on the planet with no cellular carriers providing any coverage at all.
For Internet-based transmission of multimedia content, this area is hardly optimal. It also highlights the possible failure of the vision of a cloud-based future. For a cloud-based future to truly work, wide-area saturation of minimal access levels would be necessary. Radio waves handle that easily through physical propagation that follows simple laws of physics which makes broadcasting possible. With a network of networks like the Internet, signals do not necessarily have the same metaphorical landscape to propagate across that the ionosphere provides radio waves. Radio waves can move at the speed of light under optimal conditions. While the Internet can open new means of communicating, it does not provide the same relative uniformity the physical world around us has been able to in terms of communications medium.
Three years of podcasting has been interesting. The fourth year is appearing to be one of new challenges that have to be faced. We spent the summer of 2010 preparing for the loss of effective Skype access by improving our communications links. Skype is great...when you have a fast enough data link to support it. With the way our local infrastructure is starting to fall apart, we just do not have that anymore. Between now having to keep costs down let alone scheduling complications that we previously did not have, there are real reasons there have not been as many interviews as previously.
Keeping the program published on a regular basis is the next challenge we have to face. We'll be continuing to price alternative means of accessing the Internet and, if necessary, taking steps to begin alternative links. Time will tell where things progress.