A blog by the Brick Factory The Brick Factory

Podcasting Made Easy

Podcasting is about creating audio or video content for an audience that wants to listen or watch when they want, where they want, and how they want.

There are now several podcasting tools designed to make podcasting hassle-free and one of the more promising sites is Evoca.

Evoca makes podcasting easier than ever by allowing users to upload an audio file of a previously recorded content or more interestingly in my opinion, record a live phone interview from which a podcast can be created and hosted on the Evoca site.

The way this works is that users need to sign up for an account on Evoca.

By setting up the account, you will be provided with a phone number that you can dial into to begin recording your podcast.

This would work exactly like a conference call, with the added bonus of having your conversation recorded.

Once you are finished recording and hang up, the file will be automatically added to your Evoca account.

Evoca also provides you with the necessary HTML code to place a link to the podcast directly on your website.

You will also be provided with a URL to your own RSS feed, which will allow users to subscribe to future podcasts.

Transcriptions can also be provided and are charged based on the length of the recording in minutes. There are 2 types of transcriptions available:

  • Executive summary ($0.80 per minute)
  • Word-for-word transcription ($0.60 per minute)

Transcriptions can be purchased and added to the website after each podcast.

Cost for Evoca are minimal. There are two types of accounts.

  • Free Account – Allows you up to 100 minutes of recording.
  • Professional Account – 500 minutes of recording for $4.99 per month.

Flipping Web Sites

I read an interesting article in Business 2.0 this month (June 2006) entitled “Flipping Web Fixer-Uppers” regarding a new trend in online entrepreneurship – purchasing underperforming sites, improving the content, infrastructure, and/or marketing to build traffic and revenue, and then selling them for a profit. This has been facilitated by sites such as SitePoint and eBay where whole sites and the businesses built around them are auctioned off.I took a look at SitePoint, and there are a lot of sites that I would never purchase, but there are a few I found that I would consider. As the article in Business 2.0 says, the key would be finding a site about something you are passionate. I do not think that a techie would be able to flip a site on modern art, nor would a musician be able to turn a profit on a site dedicated to advanced data structures.

I do think that this kind of entrepreneurship has merit, as I have personally visited many a site with potential but which has been neglected. There are many destinations on the Web that simply need the tender love of someone who really cares about the site’s topic in order to blossom. Virtual real estate certainly has tangible value, so it is natural that this kind of opportunity arose just as it did for neglected homes in hot housing markets across the country.

Some of the sites for sale are quite comical. My favorite is SaveToby.com, which I had run across before. It involves threatening to eat an innocent bunny, and the viral momentum it had a few months ago is worth a blog post in and of itself (stay tuned).

If you are interested, visit these sites to see some of the Web properties currently up for sale:

Podcasts: The Teachers of the Future?

An article on the BBC reported Friday that a college professor at Bradford University in the UK has replaced classroom lectures with podcasts.  Professor Bill Ashraf feels that the quality of his lectures is compromised by the large size of his classes, some of which contain as many as 250 students.  Using Dr. Ashraf’s method, first year biochemistry students can listen to lectures on their own time and send questions to the professor via text message.

Apparently, Professor Bill Ashraf is not alone is his use of podcasts to supplement or replace classroom lectures.  Locally, American University’s Washington College of Law has begun offering podcasts of guest lecturers in order to accomodate students’ busy schedules.

The University of Minnesota has also started offering various podcasts to students that give advice for stress relief during hectic times during the school year.  The University is also considering using podcasts for spreading information about orientation, life after graduation, and even computer tips.  At the University of California at Berkely, about 40 courses are reproduced in podcasts, providing students with a method of reviewing course material during finals periods or in the event that they miss a class meeting.

If that’s not creative enough for you, check out a new school opening next year in Melbourne, Australia. Coburn Senior High School plans to allow students to download podcasts of classes at on-campus internet cafes on a routine basis.  The school will have a technology focus, and will be built despite the 2003 failure of Moreland City College, established on similar principles to Coburn.

apple ipods

Elementary schools have even jumped on the podcasting bandwagon.  Jamestown Elementary School in Arlington, VA has been “pen-podcasting” with an elementary school in Scotland, where children as early as kindergarten have been introduced to iPods and other computer technogoies in the classroom.

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Is the Internet Really Leading to Better Discourse?

Among many, there seems to be a belief in the intrinsic value of online conversations. The world is flat. Ordinary people are being empowered. Governments and corporations are being held accountable.

It is all true to an extent. But I think the story that isn’t being told enough is how divisive and pointless much of the online conversation really is. A few examples I’ve come across the last few weeks:

(1) I’m a San Antonio native, huge Spurs fan and geek, so I went online and read some of the discussion about the heartbreaking Dallas – San Antonio NBA series. Not a productive use of my time. I’m fairly certain most of the posters were drunk. Flame wars. Personal attacks. Awful language. Two posters were so upset with each other that they were making arrangements to meet in person so they could fight. The Internet Tough Guy in action.

(2) Sadly, much of the political discussion taking place online isn’t much better. Republicans are racist! Democrats are socialists! Blah, blah, blah. Sure, occasionally substantive, important discussions break out. But just as often people are simply seeking out others who think just like they do. The result isn’t enlightenment, it is the hardening of beliefs and division.

(3) I recently read an article about the rise of a trend called Internet hunting in China. It’s quite disturbing. In essence, some Chinese Internet users are using the web to carry out personal vendettas. In one case, a husband used an Internet message board to post a diatribe accusing a Chinese student of having an affair with his wife. An online mob formed against the student, with some supporters of the husband organizing online to hunt down the student. An online mob!

The point has been made many times by people a lot smarter than I am: the conversations taking place online are a reflection of human nature. In many cases, the anononymity provided by the Internet brings out the worst in us.

I don’t really have a big point here. I just would caution that the online conversation isn’t as enlightened as many evangelists would have us believe. And in many cases the conversation is tearing us apart more than it is bringing us together.

Is the Internet Really Leading to Better Discourse?

Among many, there seems to be a belief in the intrinsic value of online conversations. The world is flat. Ordinary people are being empowered. Governments and corporations are being held accountable.

It is all true to an extent. But I think the story that isn’t being told enough is how divisive and pointless much of the online conversation really is. A few examples I’ve come across the last few weeks:

(1) I’m a San Antonio native, huge Spurs fan and geek, so I went online and read some of the discussion about the heartbreaking Dallas – San Antonio NBA series. Not a productive use of my time. I’m fairly certain most of the posters were drunk. Flame wars. Personal attacks. Awful language. Two posters were so upset with each other that they were making arrangements to meet in person so they could fight. The Internet Tough Guy in action.

(2) Sadly, much of the political discussion taking place online isn’t much better. Republicans are racist! Democrats are socialists! Blah, blah, blah. Sure, occasionally substantive, important discussions break out. But just as often people are simply seeking out others who think just like they do. The result isn’t enlightenment, it is the hardening of beliefs and division.

(3) I recently read an article about the rise of a trend called Internet hunting in China. It’s quite disturbing. In essence, some Chinese Internet users are using the web to carry out personal vendettas. In one case, a husband used an Internet message board to post a diatribe accusing a Chinese student of having an affair with his wife. An online mob formed against the student, with some supporters of the husband organizing online to hunt down the student. An online mob!

The point has been made many times by people a lot smarter than I am: the conversations taking place online are a reflection of human nature. In many cases, the anononymity provided by the Internet brings out the worst in us.

I don’t really have a big point here. I just would caution that the online conversation isn’t as enlightened as many evangelists would have us believe. And in many cases the conversation is tearing us apart more than it is bringing us together.