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Marshall's Web Tool Blog

Training and Consulting in New Tools for Effective Web Use

This site is an archive of posts that I hope you will find useful. Please visit my new site at Marshallk.com.

Podcasting Government or Anything Else

Super Furler Amy Gahran wrote a great article over at Poynter Online, a site for tech savvy journalists, about the possibilities of offering audio recordings of government meetings and hearings as podcasts. She summarizes a number of different perspectives on the idea, including some arguments against (can you believe there are arguments against it?)

In particular, Business Week's Blogspotting says that listening to podcasts will not be big enough anytime soon to justify the trouble. A very interesting discussion follows on that blog.

Given that data storage is so cheap it may as well be free, and bandwidth is similar in most of the world (the US so far has terrible high-speed internet connectivity relative to other places), there is no reason not to offer darn near everything as a downloadable audio file. The Internet Archive is working to store every media artifact ever made in their digital archives (check out some of Kahle's talks via IT Conversations here) so why can't I download anything onto my MP3 player and listen to it? Of course all government hearings should be audio recorded and available for download online! So should corporate shareholder meetings, speeches at political rallies, and almost anything else!

The concept of The Long Tail is that people will find value in something long after it's original use if they have access to it in a variety of ways. Fewer and fewer people will find something like a government-hearing audio file useful as it travels through media further and further from the original hearing itself, but the Long Tail theory is that this tapering tail of users will in end, make up more total value all together than the value of the original use in the first place. If they are allowed to, and not blocked by things like copyright or technological laziness.

Aside: Check out this audio file (Super Dubya) and be thankful for recordings of government proceedings and the long tail of remixing.

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