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LISTen: The Podcast -- Episode #51

This week's episode is characterized by variety. The episode kicks off with a recap of stories that might have flown below the radar. After that the program talks to Evan Prodromou, the creator of the Laconica software that operates sites site as TWiT Army and From there the podcast took a look at a musical program at the West Charleston branch of Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.

And now a word from the podcast engineer

This was originally prepared to start LISTen #51 but I chose to yank it and put it here instead. -- Michael J. Kellat, Podcast Audio Proudction Engineer Hi, this is Mike your audio geek. I bring this up now as it is better to be too soon than too late. As many of you are aware, these are hard economic times. Many people are looking for life rafts in this sea of uncertainty. I will be part of that group in a few weeks when my job disappears at work. Stephen has been there since August and has been trying to get out of it. Like PBS, we are underwritten. We are underwritten by me with a small amount of support from Blake. If I am without a job, the underwriting disappears. Unless another miracle happens, I am slated to be out of work in mid-January 2009. I sent letters to the heads of the fifty graduate programs in library science recently. This was not a simple matter and Stephen did most of the grunt work physically preparing the mailing. By the time this airs the programs should have seen their letters unless the postal service had a snag. Those letters discussed things on a smaller scale than I am about to. Maintaining an endeavor requires capital. With respect to the audience served by this podcast, it is nearly impossible to raise such by conventional means. The audience is so erratic that we cannot in good conscience even talk to an ad broker. We cannot seek operating grants as we are not an incorporated charity. Trying to offer things for purchase so as to raise some capital has not resulted in a single penny coming in. While ad dollars for online productions are actually up, we have no concrete data to be able to show advertisers about the audience they might reach. Librarians are often fiercely private in terms of their online data. For us, this creates hideous consequences. Without even a small sliver of a consistent notion as to the demographic we reach, we have nothing to approach an advertiser with. Any librarian who thinks that advertisers are not dependent upon demographic data needs to reconsider what they think they know about advertising. With most of the normal avenues to fund a podcast foreclosed to us by a unique audience, we have to ask directly for support. While some librarians likely see this as begging, it should be instead regarded as the inevitable consequence of choices made by the audience at large. There is nothing wrong or immoral or inappropriate in doing this. If Felicia Day can be applauded for doing the same thing with The Guild, why does it suddenly become different in this context? Considering full tax burden, the total cost for a full year to operate the podcast full-time approaches 78 thousand dollars. While things were great when jobs existed to be able to fund podcast operations, soon that is not going to be happening once January 16th comes around. A full thirty percent of that figure is the currently estimated tax burden owed to the government provided there are no changes in tax law. As is common with a startup and other such entities, a fairly large cost is ensuring that those producing things can have a roof over their heads as well as food to eat. Up against other operations, that figure is actually low. To do what we do in any other subject field would cost almost 90 thousand dollars a year. So far we've been lucky to not have to replace any equipment or otherwise have balloon costs. These are very normal costs for any media effort and the spec shows us working below the going rate for local government A/V techs. For your average individual local government A/V tech, the average annual pay ranges between 52 thousand and 83 thousand dollars plus benefits. The 78 thousand figure lets us pay for two people, telecommunications, utilities, and more. In a declining economy, we bring value to libraries. First and foremost we provide professional development functions through “current awareness” segments. Secondly we help highlight issues that might have disappeared from the landscape or escaped the attention of outlets like the BBC or the CBS Evening News. A prime example is the issue of Australian Internet censorship that we covered before even the BBC program Digital Planet got to it this past week. The cost of this is not that bad. The cost to operate LISTen full-time for a year would be equivalent to roughly 273 round-trip coach tickets flying from LaGuardia to Denver for ALA Mid-Winter. Another way to look at it is that the full-year cost for us would be equal to 173 round-trip coach tickets between Seattle and Chicago for ALA Annual in July. The full-year cost of the program would also be 64 round-trip coach tickets between Auckland and Chicago. The cost of 6,500 subscriptions to Howard Stern on Sirius Satellite Radio would fully fund us for an entire calendar year. The podcast has done great things in the face of quite a bit of adversity. Having the operation funded so that we don't have to worry about food and shelter will free us up to bring you even better shows. Since we already failed at trying to get somebody to give us a piece for free in a commissioning effort, money will help us have some leverage to hear local voices from outside the US about library issues. Stephen quietly tried to commission a freelance piece in the United Kingdom about a matter there but nobody would cooperate unless paid. The biggest goal in 2009 is to bring you a little bit of professional development material every week. Our goal is to try to keep things going so that professional development is an on-going thing rather than just a patent nostrum at a conference. If anything, going this way actually would have less of a carbon footprint than traveling to different events across the planet. I've laid out the case and given you almost all you need if you choose to act. There are so many ways to reach us that it cannot be said that we are unavailable. In the end, the choice is yours. With that being said, I now give way for your regularly scheduled podcast programming.
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Pondering Maple Leaf Circumstances

Let's talk about the editorial process in creating the podcast. This often may seem mysterious. Sometimes it may seem quite simple to where even a five year-old could manage it. In this brief note I turn my attention to a strange case. The podcast is released on a weekly schedule. Occasionally we interrupt that schedule for special releases but those are fairly infrequent. When the podcast goes up at 0500 UTC Monday, I am already having to plan out the next episode. Trying to stick to "current awareness" means we cannot normally stack up interviews weeks in advance. The podcast resembles an indy weekly newspaper in terms of operating method. There are times when stories blow up. We end up watching those. Sometimes those matters are like firecrackers where they shine brightly initially but burn out fairly quickly. Sometimes those matters endure. For the first case, we try to look for a librarianship angle that was not explored in mainstream reporting. For the second, we try to arrange an interview. This week started with my preparing to work the phones. Depending upon the situation, this can be quite normal. Interviews do not get arranged by themselves. With the crisis in the Parliament of Canada and the agitation for a coalition uniting the left to take power, there would conceivably be some sort of impact on Canadian libraries through a change at the Ministry of Canadian Heritage. As the Queen's viceroy in Canada, Governor General Michaëlle Jean, was out of the country it seemed as if escalation would just continue. One of the bones of contention in the crisis was the lack of an immediate economic stimulus package by the Harper ministry. Considering the integration of the economies of the United States and Canada, it is understandable that the Harper ministry did not put such forward. Since the first rebate checks were issued early in 2008, the economic stimulus measures put forward in the dying days of the Bush administration have had little effect. With the Canadian budget originally proposed to be put before Parliament after the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, a conscious decision seems to have been made to wait and see. With the return of Governor General Michaëlle Jean to Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had an audience. A prorogation was secured which concluded the current parliamentary session and otherwise stopped the transaction of parliamentary business. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the second session of this current Parliament will kick off on January 24, 2009. Until at least then, James Moore will remain Minister of Canadian Heritage. The need to immediately seek comment from all the political parties concerned is lessened. Daily program releases rarely give time to assess what is happening. Weekly program releases require care to ensure that programs are still current and responsive. With some of the strange occurrences at this most stressful time of the year, being able to commission stringers abroad can make these sorts of cases easier to handle and have reports on even as events change rapidly. Until such commissioning is possible, things remain tricky. Creative Commons License
Pondering Maple Leaf Circumstances by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at

LISTen Plan for 2009

With the collapse of Pownce through acquisition of its assets by SixApart, it is fairly reasonable to ask what is looming of a new media outlet. There are some areas through which the podcast operation wishes to expand in 2009. While these may sound like huge leaps, they are instead fairly timid when assessed against the broader realm of new media outside librarianship. First and foremost, I want to expand coverage. Only a very brief glance at the world can happen from my perch in Las Vegas. In a time when technology means so much to so many, having boots on the ground can sometimes be far more effective. A goal in 2009 is to commission freelance works from English-speaking nations other than the United States so as to promote the sharing of perspectives. Secondly, I want to expand reach. Not that many years ago there was a notion of a “digital divide”. In terms of podcasting, there still is perhaps not enough market penetration to call it a mass medium. For around a thousand dollars time can be brokered on a shortwave radio station to provide further access to program content for an entire year. With decent shortwave radios these days running between USD$50 to USD$100, this would be an option with far less overhead than that incurred in downloading a podcast. This goal in 2009 would be to secure access to a weekly time slot on a suitable shortwave broadcast station to ensure that both sides of the digital divide are potentially served. While these goals are interesting in and of themselves, there is one aspect missing. That missing link is funding. One of the biggest costs in a media outfit is manpower hours. To produce some of the content heard lately requires full-time work. Navigating the realm of public relations officers is not something that moves quickly and can sometimes involve days of work. While there are things like Google News already out there, that only serves to point at stories already told. Technology has not gotten to the point where we can completely separate human involvement from storytelling. North of Las Vegas one finds Creech Air Force Base where the operators of the Predator drones work every day. While the drones are great for demolishing targets, they aren't so great for talking to people in investigation. If they were, the United States would not have a need for agencies like the CIA and others. This is not a request for dollars. No, that was sent out to fifty very particular prospects. No, that letter with enclosed budget figures was not over my signature but someone else's. All this post happens to be is my taking a moment to communicate. Communication is a key thing that under-girds librarianship. Interlibrary loan could not operate without it. During a media realignment such as what we currently experience and considering the role of planetary economic woes as an accelerant, now is a fabulous time to build up something while cultivating as strong a base as possible. If that means we have to schedule a LISTen meet-up in Las Vegas, then that can definitely be considered and potentially forged into a plan for a cooler part of 2009. While Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis said on Twitter that the challenge in 2009 was to survive, I want to strive to do more than just survive.

Creative Commons License
LISTen Plan for 2009 by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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LISTen: The Podcast -- Episode #50

In this week's episode we hear from Rob Lopresti not only about music but also about stolen books at Western Washington University. An analysis of a perhaps overlooked part of media coverage of the Mumbai incident is also presented. As for the list mentioned by Mr. Lopresti in the interview, the address to write to is:
Rob Lopresti Wilson Library Western Washington University Bellingham, WA 98225-9103 United States of America
A self-addressed envelope with USD$0.59 postage is requested from libraries located within the United States. While listeners outside the United States are advised to check with their respective postal authorities, it appears that enclosing a single Universal Postal Union International Reply Coupon may be sufficient to cover postage costs. Related links: Alexander Wolfe's blog post at Information Week Report by Murad Ahmed at the Times of London Report on Twitter in Mumbai at the site of the Courier Mail Bloomberg News reporting on response by the Indian government Mindanao Examiner talking about the Mumbai attack Forbes on the use of Twitter in Mumbai A Twitter user calling for no panic creation Global Voices looking at Twitter in Mumbai Potential Christmas gift for art lovers Potential Christmas gift for lovers of information policy Potential Christmas gift for those seeking to archive podcasts
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LISTen: The Podcast -- Episode #49

This week's episode of LISTen is in full form. Starting off the episode one finds a chat with Blake Carver about a recent conference he attended. The event was sponsored by OpenText and talked about its very own document management system. Following the chat with Blake, the episode turns to talking to Felicia Day. Ms. Day writes and produces the online series known as The Guild. Due to the paucity of materials detailing how such online ventures happen, Ms. Day helps fix in the tangible form of the podcast a discussion of such. The interview was geared towards giving YA librarians and others answers for when people inquire about how programs like The Guild are created. Following the chat with Ms. Day, a round-up of stories listeners might have missed at LISNews over the past week was given. Recognizing that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is only occurring in the United States this week, it might be reasonable for listeners to question if an episode will be released on December 1st. The production team realizes that a sizable amount of listeners are located outside the territorial boundaries of the United States. Barring unforeseen complications, LISTen #50 is indeed slated to be released at 0500 UTC on December 1st (what is this in my local time?). Related links: Open Text Content World 2008 Book referenced by Felicia Day on writing Official website of Felicia Day Site of The Guild
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Podcast-related stuff available

In case folks are not aware, there are some products available from the podcast team. Purchase of these products gives you something tangible while giving some us funding to cover costs like telecommunications.

This is the disc containing high-quality Ogg Vorbis format versions of the audio from BlogWorldExpo:

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Program Advisory

As a heads-up to listeners, it should be noted that LISTen #49 will be posted on a slight delay. The podcast rarely has to wait out an embargo. In this case we will do so.

LISTen #49 will have in it a special chat with actress and web entrepreneur Felicia Day. This is as announced verbally at the close of LISTen #48. You did listen to that shorter than usual episode, right?

As such, LISTen #49 will be posted at 0800 UTC on November 24th. You can find what that means in your own local time by visiting this link.

A special feature may post at the normal audio posting time. This remains tentative as some factors remain in play.

LISTen: The Podcast -- Episode #48

This week's episode is a brief one. After the run down of stories you might have missed, the program's engineer presents another installment of Tech for Techies. In the fourteenth installment of that segment, the engineer gives a brief overview of how to record audio at conferences and conventions. A lighter commentary is presented touching upon the need for authority control in today's increasingly interconnected world. The wrap-up contains a unique announcement. There is no video planned for this week. Related links: DTV Transition Site
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