I've been thinking of ways to improve the retention rate of the HyperSites platform. One of the easiest ways is to add media to the site (by media I mean tutorials, screencasts, a podcast, etc.) I've come across several interesting technologies that can help with the task, but what's more is that I've realized that the way we push media, both personally and professionally, has changed. Drastically.
It used to be that one would use a copier to make their flyers or manuals for new products. Today, the options are nothing short of incredible. Have a look at this list of thoughts and let me know what you think. I'll tweak the list as I get feedback.
Personal publishing – brought to us by the Xerox in the 70s. It made getting hundreds of copies of a protest flyer or concert announcement so easy and affordable that just about anyone could participate. The copier was probably the first and most important step in personal publishing and media distribution.
Email – even before the internet made the transition from government and education to Yahoo!, email was readily available through services such as Prodigy, CompuServ, AOL, and more. Type a message and send away.
The Internet (Dotcom era) – gave us a hint at what was possible for the individual voice. Not only could you reach your neighborhood, but you could just as easily reach the entire globe. You just had to know how to write HTML, and you had to have a server to upload your HTML to. Then there was Geocities.
PDF – the Portable Document Format created by Adobe let's anyone make a multipage document and then distribute it freely… it is a perfect digital reproduction of the original.
The iPod – personal music, customized only to your taste. While not a publishing platform for the individual, it is used by the individual to totally disrupt the media giants. The RIAA takes notice.
RSS – no longer do you have to actively search for the information being published, it now comes to you, on your schedule.
Podcasts – RSS with audio attachments, now anyone with a computer and a microphone, including big media, can record and distribute audio to any device that can play an MP3. If you have a voice, now people can literally hear it.
Voice over Internet (VOIP) – while the technology has been around in one form or another, talking to another user with your computer is now infinitely easier. Not simply because of the tools available, but because everyone you know is on the internet. As an example, Mac users see a speaker in their buddy list for voice enabled “buddies.” (70% of my buddies have voice or video capabilities, and the rest can, but choose use 3rd party IM clients)
The Internet (Web 2.0/Blogging) – provides literally anyone connected to the internet the ability to publish their content. Reaching the globe is as easy as creating an account at Blogger.com or MySpace, typing your message, and clicking the submit button. All of this content is available using RSS readers, including audio and video attachments.
Video podcasts (IPTV 1.0, RSS with video attachments) – bigger hard drives, faster computers, and easier software allows podcasters to do video, too. Shows ranging from minutes to hours pop up everywhere. From professionally produced shows like Diggnation to webcam/basement amateur shows on knitting, video podcasts are the pinnacle of personal media distribution. A picture is worth 1,000 words and there are anywhere 15 to 30 pictures per second (on average) in video.
Conferencing with VOIP – Skype is the first quality mainstream implementation of voice conferencing, with audio quality easily surpassing that of the telephone. Radio shows and podcasters begin taking “calls” using Skype. Skype to Skype calls are free, but anyone with a phone can participate too.
YouTube, Google Video, etc. – with a webcam and a few minutes, millions of people can instantly publish content they've created (or they've stolen) to millions of other viewers. Stars are born (lonelygirl15?)
Scheduled podcasts – anyone with a Talkshoe account can provide live call-in shows or simply host a voice chat. These shows are also recorded and later distributed as podcasts. See http://twit.tv for several examples.
Live streaming video – services from http://ustream.tv and http://stickam.com allow anyone with a webcam to broadcast themselves to anyone willing to “tune in.” This was a prohibitively expensive proposition simply based on bandwidth costs just 2 years ago. Sure live streaming has been available for quite a while, but this is personal. And free.
What's next? zerologic.tv
I'm conducting several video experiments built on these free services and low-cost software. The first experiment will be named Michael's Garage and will be a free form show where I'll use my RSS feeds for news or interesting topics. Of course the show's participants will dictate the direction.
I've built a studio in my garage. I have two computers – one desktop, and one laptop. The desktop has two video sources (a Canon Z500 DV Camera, and an Apple iSight), and can see the laptop's screen as a live screencast. I'll also run XP and Ubuntu in Parallels on the MacBook Pro in case they're needed during the show.
The studio software is a title from Vara Software http://varasoftware.com called Wirecast. It allows me to control all of the video sources a the click of the mouse. I can include movies, images, and other audio too.
Another key to this puzzle is an open source software (OSS) called Synergy http://synergy2.sourceforge.net Synergy gives you control of two or more computers with a single keyboard an mouse. There is no switch to flip or buttons to click… you simply move the mouse toward the other computer and you control it, as soon as the pointer switches to the other display.
The magic is Wirecast. Without it, this would be just another single source webcam show. Being able to flip between the DV cam and the screencasts on another computer is amazing. No more producers, no more A/V or KVM switches.
I'm not a professional broadcaster, not even close. I don't have 20 years of experience in “the industry,” nor do I have any formal training. But this experiment will be ground breaking. I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking of this stuff, but I'll be the first that I know of. It isn't a live webcam show, it should have the feel of a TV show, all operated by one guy, in a chair, in his garage on a Saturday afternoon.
The state of the project.
I have the set, the computers, the cams, and the “talent.” I'm missing the software and good consistent lighting.
What I need is funding. In exchange for a donation, I'll provide a contributors list and links to your site/blog on every page in the zerologic network of sites. Get involved… watch the experiment evolve… you are in control.
Watch zerologic TV evolve.