Podcasting - Warning Long Post
- First, forgive me if I have sent previously. Second, the use of
podcasting for English language instruction, especially for those not
in the USA and/or those who do not have broadband connectivity to the
Net, might very well be a big, big, big challenge and hardly worth
With that in mind, you may wish to dump this message, or skim
lightly. I send it because I sense, again, that audio streaming to
hand held devices will become relatively cheap - and possibly
ubiquitous - in the years ahead. How many years? Who knows? English
language instruction? Who knows? I do know that Duke University spent
$500,000 providing free iPods to every Duke undergrad. I do know that
Apple is shipping like crazy. I do know that many of those at the
leading edge of web activity are keenly watching all of this - Andy
Carvin being one of them. Here is what this very bright and very
forward leaning guy has to say:
23 Dec 2004
From: Andy Carvin <acarvin@...>
I've just posted my first podcast. The topic of this five-minute
audio is the growth of podcasting and the subsequent accessibility
challenges faced by the hearing impaired. I'm hoping it's the first
in a series of podcasts from me on a variety of issues related to the
Internet, the media and the digital divide, among other topics.
If you have a good Internet connection you can download the podcast:
It's just over five megabytes in size. Otherwise, a transcript of the
podcast can be found below.
For those of you who want to subscribe to my future podcasts using
software like iPodderX, please use my blog's RSS feed:
Here's the transcript:
Hi everyone, Andy Carvin here.... Welcome to the first official
podcast for my blog, Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth. I'll be
posting occasional podcasts on a variety of issues. I don't plan on
having a single theme to this podcast; it won't strictly be about the
digital divide or Internet culture or travel or the media. There
really aren't rules for this; I'm just going to play it by ear and
see where the muses lead me.
Today, though, I'd like to talk about podcasting. No, I don't mean
for this to be yet another podcast about podcasts. Instead, I want to
talk specifically about podcasting and accessibility.
This past week on the Digital Divide Network email list there was a
great discussion about the advent of podcasting and its potential as
a tool for giving a voice to disenfranchised communities.
A few days into the conversation, Grant Laird of the Texas Deaf
Network posted a brief response to the thread. He said,"Don't forget
that podcasting probably doesn't support transcripts for the deaf
My first reaction was, "That's a fair point.... I'm more than happy
to post transcripts of my podcasts." For me, at least, that makes a
lot of sense. But will other podcasters feel the same way?
Unfortunately, I think the answer is generally no, I think many would
argue that the whole notion of posting podcast transcripts actually
runs counter to the ethos of podcasting.
A case in point: last month, Web accessibility activist Matt May
posted a rather provocative essay in which he lamented that many
pioneering podcasters are actually going out their way not to
transcribe their podcasts. As evidence to this, he cited a statement
by Steve Gillmor at the recent BloggerCon conference saying that he'd
never post transcripts -- and actually got applause out of it.
Posting transcripts, it seems, would defeat the whole purpose of
podcasting: pushing the envelop of personal multimedia publishing. I
mean, why bother spend all of this time trying to be a bleeding-edge
Internet radio pioneer when you'd have to type up everything you've
just said, just so that people who don't even know what an iPod is
can read what you had to say in the first place?
But Matt May, who works for the World Wide Web Consortium's Web
Accessibility Initiative, finds this position unacceptable. He writes:
What if a deaf user sees a topic that interests him or her, and wants
to know what these subject-matter experts have to say about it?
Should he or she go without simply because the moderator thinks it
would disrupt the natural feel found in the panel's voices?
Interestingly, not long after Matt posted his blog, Steve Gillmor
posted a response:
I have to admit I was not thinking about accessibility in relation to
the subject of transcripts. Of course it makes sense in that context,
and I appreciate your perception that the Gillmor Gang material is
worthy of that additional effort.... As the network grows and
technologies for auto-transcriptions become affordable without the
cost of training that holds back current technology, the
accessibility problem will be overcome.
These comments by Matt and Grant and Steve are probably the first
round of what may be a rather contentious battle between podcasters
and accessibility activists. Just as we've seen fights over the
accessibility of websites and streaming media, it's no surprise that
podcasting has opened a new theatre of operations in this battle. But
fortunately podcasters like Steve Gillmor are now thinking about
accessibility, and are open to addressing these concerns. Will others
take notice? I imagine many won't, but I'm sure the accessibility
community won't sit on their hands either.
So Matt's absolutely right when he says that the deaf community
shouldn't be forced to "go without" simply because podcast producers
have better things to do than cater to the disabled. I mean, so what
if podcasting wasn't invented to target the disabled community? Isn't
it absolutely reasonable to assume that many podcasts will contain
insightful and entertaining commentary that would be just as
interesting to a deaf person as it would be to anyone else?
Granted, transcripts in themselves will never convey all the nuances
of the human voice and spoken interaction, but that's hardly the
point. Podcasting has enormous potential as a tool for independent
media, civic journalism, education and other purposes, and it's just
a matter of time before we see millions of podcasts being produced,
from the biggest media conglomerates all the way down to some kid in
her bedroom with a story she wants to tell the world.
Of course, life will be a lot easier when voice recognition tools
like Dragon Naturally Speaking get better at transcribing everyday
banter rather than dictation. Someday we'll get there, I'm sure, but
don't expect it overnight.
So is it too much to ask podcasters to offer a transcript of their
audio? Even a detailed summary is better than nothing. Otherwise,
podcasting will be yet another media juggernaut that will zoom by the
lives of millions of people without giving any of them a chance to
benefit from it as well.
And who knows; maybe someone who uses speech-recognition software to
communicate to the outside world needs to start their own podcast as
well. Wouldn't that send a powerful message?
Maybe we should all just email Stephen Hawking and see if he wants to
be the first.
Anyway, that's all for now. Until next time, thanks for listening to
my Waste of Bandwidth....
(Note: open/closing music courtesy of Subatomic Glue, used under the
rules of their Creative Commons license.)
- Hi John and all,
> Second, the use ofI don't think it'll be particularly challenging, and doesn't really require
> podcasting for English language instruction, especially for those not
> in the USA and/or those who do not have broadband connectivity to the
> Net, might very well be a big, big, big challenge and hardly worth
> the effort.
that much bandwidth if you're "pod"casting voice only. Podcasting is really
webcasting which has already been done using RealMedia and WindowsMedia
tools for a while; the only thing unique about podcasting is that it's being
done with an iPod.
Andy says that his five-minute podcast is 5Mb in size, which seems very big
if it was voice-only (which, by the sounds of it, it was). There must be a
setting somewhere that reduces the amount of bandwidth used and therefore
reduces the filesize that's produced. Yes, the quality will be reduced, but
you don't need to stream at 64kbps in full stereo for a voice-only webcast