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International Listening Year

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  • David Smith
    I wanted to share with you an idea I came up with today, called The International Listening Year. My first inspiration for the idea came from something
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 6, 2008
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      I wanted to share with you an idea I came up with today, called "The
      International Listening Year."

      My first inspiration for the idea came from something called "the National
      Day of Listening," a project of the StoryCorps. StoryCorps is an
      organization, connected (somehow) with NPR, that conducts an oral history
      project. They've been travelling around the country for several years,
      recording one-hour interviews with people from many walks of life --
      usually older folks -- burning CDs of the interview, giving one copy to
      the interviewee, and filing a copy with the Library of Congress.

      I think this is a wonderful idea, and I recently subscribed to their
      podcast to check it out.

      They recently presented the National Day of Listening, on November 28.
      This project was intended to inspire people across the country to do their
      own one-hour recordings with their own families and significant other folk
      with stories. Another excellent idea. They announced recently they've
      extended the NDL through the Holiday Season, to encourage more
      participation. I encourage interested parties to look into the NDL.

      My first thought was, "Gee, any podcaster has hardware to do that, and a
      portable like mine would be nearly ideal." StoryCorps does offer to rent
      out hardware for the process, for $150. That'd just about buy one of
      these Samson Zoom H2 Handy Recorders like I use.

      My second thought, "No reason a podcaster couldn't do something similar,
      and without rushing to participate in the NDL." So, what would be the
      best way to do such?

      Interviews are hard, harder than just saying your own stuff. They're
      particularly hard for me, for reasons you may know. Beyond that, doing an
      interview for a whole hour? As a one-off, an hour is almost easier to
      record -- you don't have to think about what to include or throw out. But
      if you want a good interview, you want to keep it shorter. And most
      folks, I think, would be uncomfortable with trying to talk for a whole
      hour, anyway.

      About this time, I was reminded of a podcast Matthew Wayne Selznick used
      to do, called "Five Minute Memoir." Matt asked me at one point to take it
      over, but I'm still uncomfortable with interviews, and that won't change.
      Sorry, Matt.

      The subtitle of Five Minute Memoir is "Our Lives, Five Minutes at a Time."
      Matt invited folks to record a story out of their lives, for five
      minutes, and that would become an episode in the podcast. I liked the
      idea, and I really did wish I was equipped to take it over. Oh, well.

      But wait, five minutes? Everybody's got five minutes or so, don't they?
      Lots of people have more. Not everybody has the hardware/software/skills
      to make the recording, but We Could Fix That. If you record a half-hour
      or an hour, you should be able to distill that down to at least a solid
      five minutes, no?

      So, recorded, five-minute interviews, with a similar set of interviewees,
      and a similar content. But an independent project, produced by
      independent podcasters with the will, the skills, and the hardware...

      Now, one problem with the NDL is the limited audience. The interviews
      StoryCorps records themselves get into the Library of Congress. The
      recordings of everybody else don't. The recorder is expected to file the
      recording away for future generations on their own. Which is fine, such
      as it is.

      StoryCorps, as I mentioned, does a Podcast with some of, "the best of,"
      their own recordings. As far as I know, they don't use the NDL recordings
      for that. They do post a minimal number to their website, but relatively
      few. So much is lost, and so much more could be done.

      Keep in mind I was thinking about this after finishing National Podcast
      Post Month, and starting National Blog Post Month. I already was familiar
      with the Social Network idea, and what others have done with Ning to
      handle such event-based networks. And that suggested the idea of creating
      a Social Network to produce these five-minute interviews.

      A "National Month of Listening?" Thirty interviews in a month? Not
      bloody likely. Maybe a "National Year of Listening?" Not every day, say
      one per month, or perhaps just twelve within the year. Plenty of time to
      find twelve really good interviews -- not with the celebrities that get
      interviewed all the time, but with folks that might otherwise never get to
      tell their story.

      Hated the name. Thought back to the Donald Fagen song, reoorded by Steely
      Dan, "IGY." The International Geophysical Year. The year I was born, a
      scientific event better described elsewhere -- but also a celebration of a
      more hopeful view of the future than we've had since. And a favorite song
      of mine. I want my Spandex jacket and flying car!

      Thus:

      The "International Listening Year" is a social-network and Podcasting
      challenge. Starting in January 2009, participants commit to record at
      least twelve, five-minute interviews, with twelve different people
      (probably) who don't normally get asked for their stories, and to offer
      those five-minute interviews as podcasts.

      As I mentioned, I created a Social Network on Ning,
      http://ilyear.ning.com Also, as I did for NaPodPoMo (sort of) and
      NaBloPoMo, I created the mechanisms for a collective podcast feed for all
      ILY participants. Should work quite simply, I think. (I've made
      something similar work before.)

      If you are currently a podcaster, this should be quite doable -- you'll
      have a whole year. If you can do more than twelve, that'll probably be
      fine. But what I'm hoping for is that each five-minute recording is the
      best you can make it, worthy of the trust of your subjects, and
      demonstrating your respect. The "traditional" first six, after all, would
      be Grandma and Grandpa on both sides of the family, and maybe Mom and Dad.

      Or make your own list. "This is Liberty Hall; you can spit on the mat,
      and call the cat a Bastard." But if this thing "has legs," you might wish
      later you'd given it your absolute best. And the standard five-minute
      length makes sense to me; one problem we had with keeping up listening to
      the NaPodPoMo shows was, some shows could be an hour, or even two hours
      long. Don't tire out Grandma.

      The collective feed will be a limited aggregate feed of participant's
      regular RSS feeds (through Yahoo Pipes and Feedburner), including no more
      than X of your most recent ILY recordings, each simply marked for the
      aggregator to find (explained later) -- so your content stays on your site
      and in your feed. With sufficient participation, the collective feed
      might have to be cut back to only your most recent recording, just to keep
      Feedburner from choking on the size of the thing.

      Since it's the International Listening Year, that means anyone in the
      world could (potentially) participate. (Languages? Hmmm...) And the
      year starts, naturally, on January 1, 2009. So does the project.

      Since Matt Selznick currently has Five-Minute Memoir mothballed, perhaps
      he'd be interested in un-retiring it, taking the best shows and making
      them part of his podcast? Just a thought -- and arguably simpler for
      folks who aren't already podcasters and hosted elsewhere. Would be nice,
      too, to have somewhere for the shows to "live" in the future. But that
      doesn't have to happen, necessarily, the rest'd still work. (Wonder how
      you get stuff into the Library of Congress? Or Archive.org?)

      Comments can go to my blogpage, my Podcast's page, or via email. I look
      forward to your interest in taking up the challenge. The Ning group is up
      and more-or-less ready for business. Anybody else like this idea?
      Suggestions? Refinements?

      Griz

      --

      Grizzly's Growls Podcast & Stories from the Hiber-Nation:
      <http://grizzlysgrowls.com>
      The NaNaPooPoo Podcast Community Network:
      <http://feeds.nanapoopoo.com>
      NaBloPoMo Collective Blogfeed:
      <http://feeds.feedburner.com/nablopomo
    • Matthew Wayne Selznick
      ... Actually, you *offered* to take it over, but it s currently part of my Sonitotum podcast as a segment. Anyone can contribute a Five Minute memoir for
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 7, 2008
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        On Sat, Dec 6, 2008 at 7:14 PM, David Smith <grizzly@...> wrote:
        > About this time, I was reminded of a podcast Matthew Wayne Selznick used
        > to do, called "Five Minute Memoir." Matt asked me at one point to take it
        > over, but I'm still uncomfortable with interviews, and that won't change.
        > Sorry, Matt.

        Actually, you *offered* to take it over, but it's currently part of my
        Sonitotum podcast as a segment. Anyone can contribute a Five Minute
        memoir for inclusion in Sonitotum -- see
        http://www.mattselznick.com/podcasts/five-minute-memoir/
        to listen to the original podcast and for more information.

        > Since Matt Selznick currently has Five-Minute Memoir mothballed, perhaps
        > he'd be interested in un-retiring it, taking the best shows and making
        > them part of his podcast

        Again, let me stress that Five Minute Memoir is *not* mothballed, it's
        been folded into Sonitotum.

        The other thing is that Five Minute Memoirs aren't interviews -- a
        memoir is a story from your own life, told by you.

        Not to poo-poo David's idea at all... it sounds like fun for folks
        with the time. It just doesn't fit the Five Minute Memoir model, so I
        thought I should clarify that.

        Best,

        --
        Matthew Wayne Selznick
        Author, Podcaster
        ************************************
        "Reggie vs. Kaiju Storm Chimera Wolf"
        Signed and numbered limited edition chapbook
        http://www.mattselznick.com

        "Brave Men Run -- A Novel of the Sovereign Era"
        Paperback, Ebook, iPhone, Kindle, MP3 CD, Free Podcast
        http://www.bravemenrun.com
      • David Smith
        ... Hmmm... hadn t heard any in a while, must have misunderstood. Which is one of the many reasons I don t do interviews. ... Ah. ... That s fine. Thought
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 8, 2008
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          It was 7 Dec 2008, when Matthew Wayne Selznick commented:


          > On Sat, Dec 6, 2008 at 7:14 PM, David Smith <grizzly@...>
          > wrote: > About this time, I was reminded of a podcast Matthew Wayne
          > Selznick used > to do, called "Five Minute Memoir." Matt asked me at one
          > point to take it > over, but I'm still uncomfortable with interviews, and
          > that won't change. > Sorry, Matt.
          >
          > Actually, you *offered* to take it over, but it's currently part of my
          > Sonitotum podcast as a segment. Anyone can contribute a Five Minute memoir
          > for inclusion in Sonitotum -- see
          > http://www.mattselznick.com/podcasts/five-minute-memoir/ to listen to the
          > original podcast and for more information.

          Hmmm... hadn't heard any in a while, must have misunderstood. Which is
          one of the many reasons I don't do interviews.

          > > Since Matt Selznick currently has Five-Minute Memoir mothballed, perhaps
          > > he'd be interested in un-retiring it, taking the best shows and making
          > > them part of his podcast
          >
          > Again, let me stress that Five Minute Memoir is *not* mothballed, it's been
          > folded into Sonitotum.

          Ah.

          > The other thing is that Five Minute Memoirs aren't interviews -- a
          > memoir is a story from your own life, told by you.
          >
          > Not to poo-poo David's idea at all... it sounds like fun for folks
          > with the time. It just doesn't fit the Five Minute Memoir model, so I
          > thought I should clarify that.

          That's fine. Thought there might be a good fit there. Apparently not.

          --

          Grizzly's Growls Podcast & Stories from the Hiber-Nation:
          <http://grizzlysgrowls.com>
          The NaNaPooPoo Podcast Community Network:
          <http://feeds.nanapoopoo.com>
          NaBloPoMo Collective Blogfeed:
          <http://feeds.feedburner.com/nablopomo
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