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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

SkypeCasting - Podcasting the Skype Way

Wow.  This is really useful stuff - there's a new term doing the rounds - SkypeCasting - Stuart along with Bill Campbell has figured out a way for podcasters to create great sounding audio recordings from interviews and conference calls using Skype.

I tried it out and it really works so well.  I must confess i had a few setup problems - i first printed out the "recipe" and i tried to follow it perfectly.  Obviously i didn't and so i had to redo the whole process.  Well worth it.  My advice to anyone who wants to get Skypecasting is to follow the detailed instructions to the very last letter, and not skip anything. 

And i learnt some new things during the process - how to set up and use system restore and multiple user accounts on  my PC, and how to insert blank tapes into the sound recorder.  Now i need to figure out the last leg - am looking for a good Wav to MP3 convertor so i can link up my own first SkypeCast !

I'm thinking applications here.  Stuart has listed some at his post :

"Professional interviews are a prime example. Makes it easier to write up your notes later while you can completely focus your attention on the interview. Then we have the equivalent of "panel" discussions. The mini conference call fueled by good chatter and a great topic. Perhaps you are a budding poet wanting to spread a reading to a small group? Want to send a joint message or birthday greeting where the parties are dispersed, record a Skype conference call and e-mail the mp3. Similarly, finishing up a conference call --- create a simple 5 minute SkypeCast of the key action points. Blog it to your group. An hour in five minutes. It's over to you now. Tell us how you use it"

The most immediate one that comes to mind is linked to my work as a researcher - i could now conduct interviews in locations outside Bombay this way and not worry about sound quality (because Skype has excellent sound) and about keeping a record of the interview for analysis. Another i can think of is for couples separated by distance recording and storing conversations for those lonely hours - dangerous huh? 

What applications would you use it for?  Or can you think up for this? 

Must also figure how it will work with SkypeOut to record conversations where i make calls to landlines or cellphones using SkypeOut. And whether you can record fade-in and fade-out music too ... now that would make a great SkypeJockey ! 


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Wikis - Tugs and Tensions

As i work in wikis, i'm faced with dilemmas.  I'll try and describe some of these here. 

There are tensions between the need for some structure and and my belief in streams of chaotic flow.  The need for nomenclature and terminology that is required and meaningful to a user and not terribly geeky, and the desire to let it emerge as we play along. 

A deeper struggle between the question of ownership and the willingness to dance with others in the space. And between the desire for open playgrounds and a more functional need for walled gardens.

Do you feel these tugs too?  How have you worked them out? 


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Using Wikis - Letting go of my Wiki Bogeyman

I have so much to blog about and so little time.  As the year closes, bills to be sent to clients, lots of pressure to complete assignments, all mixed up with passion about some new collaborations coming up in 2005.

I've also been having some cool experiences working with a bunch of amazing people on and at Seedwiki - and i want to share these learnings as i go along.  A believer in the philosophy of wikis, but the tech goofball that i am, i've found many wikis really tough to work in.  Loads of pages linked together in ways i find difficult to wade through.  Not all have easy navigation bars.  Sometimes they have too much and i am overwhelmed and opt out.  Some of them are plain ugly.

Seedwiki is rather special, its not perfect but so so malleable - Jerry's favourite term is its a "plastic" platform.  Its terrific to know i can ping Tom or Kenneth anytime i have even the silliest of problems with it, or if i have an otherwise 'absurd' demand, or just simply to talk about the Wisdom of Crowds. Or in recognising the magic of the platform and getting peole and organisations to play.  

I've also been reflecting on how difficult it is to get someone unfamiliar with tools like blogs and wikis to buy into the 'systems'.  I think we're missing something here by calling them blogs and wikis and all the terminology associated with them. They sound so geeky and can put a person off when she has to find her way through so many pages, and its unclear what these terms mean in simple English. 

These are our platforms, they are our tools, they are our networks - am not sure they are what we, as consultants should aim to sell to clients.  People buy refrigerators not compressors or Joule Kelvin expansion, they buy computers, not silicon chips. I am reminded of Godrej refrigerators in the mid-eighties, who achieved much success because it touted in its ad campaign that it had PUF.  Nothing new really in the tech - all refs have it - but noone had talked about it in a way that was considered meaningful by customers.  The magic lay not in the term PUF or the technology behind it, but in the personification of PUF as this strong, reliable, gold-caped, larger than life man, tapping into the (then) customer need for a long-lasting, reliable, hard-working  refrigerator.   

The other lesson i have learnt to make the tech-bogeyman go away, is to simply get in there and play.  The beauty of blogs and wikis is you can undo and redo stuff as many times as you wish.  Even broken links aren't such a nightmare.  The other day in a conversation with Kenneth from Seedwiki, we were talking about opportunities.  He pointed me to WikiFish which is a neat example of starting with a small team, a small project, engaging a much wider group and building upon it as it emerges.  

I think i am beginning to let go of my wiki-bogey-man :)  


2:45:38 PM    comment []  trackback []