I was wondering if podcasting is still a thing, so I tweeted “When do people listen to podcasts, now that nobody is commuting? Housework? Exercise?” Newsflash: Yes, it is. The tweet got lots of traction and only very few of the responses said they were listening less. Given that, I decided to make an audio version of what you are reading and call it a podcast. Turns out to be pretty easy.
Details · It’s here on Apple podcasts, which I gather means it will show up on Overcast and other podcast aggregators (um, whatever they are, I’m new to this) soon. If you want to do it yourself, here’s the RSS.
Confession · I rarely listen to podcasts. When I’m doing something like driving that doesn’t fully occupy the mind, I prefer music to talk. When I want to consume information, I find reading is way faster. But I’m not against them or anything, they seem to improve many peoples’ lives.
What it is · For the moment, just a selection from the fragments that appear here — occasionally I publish pieces that are just collections of links, which I think would be podcast-unfriendly. But the majority will be included, assuming the world shows any interest. In the future I might try to go conversational but to be honest at the moment I don’t feel a burning urge. I’d rather find a way to work music in, and have no notion of the issues around that.
Hardware tech · I record these sitting in my boat/office on a 2019 16" MacBook Pro using an unexotic Shure MV5 microphone which I picked because it stood out among well-reviewed mikes for occupying little desk space, and that’s a big advantage on the boat. It connects to the Mac via a CalDigit TS3+ Thunderbolt hub, without which my boat/office setup would be entirely unworkable.
I haven’t made any real attempt to supress background noise and if you get lucky you might hear a seagull squawk or a seal splash. When I play back the sound loud, I can hear the background roar of the city. It doesn’t bother me.
Let’s be honest: The main problem with the sound quality is my voice, which is nothing to write home about, and the fact that I stumble over my own words. Several of the eleven fragments present at launch required more than one take; once again, not a big problem.
Also, I notice, upon listening to a sampling of these early episodes, that I should probably go slower. I’m a pretty fast talker but the real issue is that my writing style is dense. This isn’t an accident, I consciously try to compress the prose here; what I publish is usually a lot shorter than the initial draft. Some of the verbal chaff I remove while editing is probably perfectly appropriate for spoken-word.
Software tech · I record with Audacity because that’s what everybody says to use, and export to MP3. Once you’ve got the MP3’s, you need to wrap them in RSS (specifically, RSS 2.0, none of the other flavors) and you’ve got a podcast. There are lots of tutorials out there, and they are considerably annoying in that few to none actually include examples of the raw XML code so that I can cut and paste it, they assume you’re using some sort of templating engine or other voodoo.
The reason I need examples is that the software that runs this blog (and now this podcast too) was entirely hand-built by yours truly, initially in 2002, and subsequently elaborated and fancified and mutated over the decades. In fact, it’s all one Perl file containing 2,880 lines of what I claim is pure software beauty. I will open-source it for the world to enjoy on the twelfth of never.
To-do and what next · I need to have each blog entry that’s also a podcast have a “click here to listen” button. Feel free to point out any other undotted i’s or uncrossed t’s.
Going forward, I dunno. I’m making this up as I go along. If someone has a brilliant idea for what I should do with this global multimedia empire, I’m real easy to find. My mind is open, and I guess my ears should be too, now.