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Monday, October 23, 2006

C'mon And Take A Very Free, Very Wild, Ride

Whoo hoo, what a rush, can you feel the love? It's fantastic to get the first TWiL out there, and to get your reactions, criticisms, suggestions, etc. As Ernie says, "[S]end us your comments and criticisms. We're all about feedback, be it positive or negative. And if you have suggestions for topics or guests please send those along too." Amen. Comment wherever you'd like — here or after the show notes would be great; email works too of course.

Here are my initial decompression thoughts re the first show:

Hello, World!

Holy hundreds of thousands of listeners Batman, I had no clue Leo was going to put the show out on the main TWiT feed until he pinged me in email yesterday. When we recorded our second show last week, Mike Arrington, who's our upcoming guest, mentioned something about my "fame" in the tech and legal blogospheres. (Which I found pretty humorous coming from a guy I met a little over a year ago, who introduced me at the time to what was then his fun little hobby of a project called TechCrunch!) I've had my share of big traffic hits from time to time, but Bag and Baggage is, day in and day out, a low flow object; frankly I kind of like it that way. Having the entire TWiT army exposed to your efforts at one time is a little like having the all-seeing eye of Mordor sweep your way during your formerly inconspicuous journey across the plains of Gorgoroth — in a good way, of course.

My podcasting endeavors have always been ready, fire, aim affairs, and this one was no different. The biggest challenge in getting the first show out the door was getting the Skype call recording setup in place, and hey! We managed to actually record. Phew! Now I'll focus hard on making sure things begin to sound better. (If you want a really challenging listening experience, help yourself to the Bag and Baggage podcast.) I plead guilty to being our worst Hugh MacLeod — I'm primarily the typist and note-rattler, and I think I'm also the delightful heavy breather/panter. (Must back off the PR-40 when not talking, apparently.) You also hear some headset sounds from Cathy which were a one-time thing I believe; I didn't hear any of it when we recorded Show 2. Having actually gotten Show 1 to record, I felt less concerned with that pesky issue on Show 2, and I think in general we were more comfortable and the pacing was more upbeat. We'll see what you think when it goes up.

Bottom line: I'm anxious to provide a listenable experience, and we'll keep working on it. I hear you, Scott Bourne. BUT, I continue to think what I've always thought about podcasting: a huge part of its intrinsic power is its ability to give voice and audience, via accessible tools, to people who are not audio techies by nature and trade, and that's certainly me. I'm hugely grateful to all the audio experts who have already helped with the show — in hindsight, I hope I didn't embarrass these fine folks by publicly thanking them in connection with a show the audio caliber of which had its share of issues! — and for the offers of advice and help that continue to flow in. We'll try to emulate those for whom we have enormous respect who release in beta, listen to resulting feedback, and incorporate and improve.

Critique My Dad's Critique?

One of the things I also enjoy about podcasts is the tendency for participants to be natural, unscripted, unrehearsed, and unpolished. My father has a different take, and offered the following advice by email. I'm curious what others think about his suggestions, so feel free to weigh in (if I truly sound like George Bush, even I won't consider a little polish a bad thing!):

I listened to about half the show just now. Will pick it up later when I have some time. A few nit pics, constructive I hope.
Shorten the intros. Get to the meat. Make the meat sound world shaking important from the get go. Well, not world shaking, but at least exciting. i.e: "Joining me to look at U Tube's race toward a safe harbor in the port of DMCA or, instead, whether it sinks in a storm of litigation, is so and so of Wilson, Sonsini, so and so, of xxx, so and so of xxx and special guest xxx of xxx." Forget the drawn out bios, or work them in when you are questioning the guest. [DMH note: Show 2's bios are abbreviated and unscripted, unlike Show 1.]
Again, practice speaking without "uhs." Know your stuff so well that you do not need to fill verbal pauses.
Try lowering your voice a bit. Speaking over microphones, particularly when recording, always seems to make our voices sound higher, resulting in our coming across as teenagers.
Avoid the natural, but careless speech short cuts of "tuh" instead of "to"; "auh" instead of "a", etc. That's pure George Bush. When we speak publicly we want to sound like perfect grammar and pronunciation come naturally. That takes work but does come with just a little practice and concentration. Make it the way you speak at home, to store clerks, etc. and it will soon become natural. "Tyler, I saw A bird." Not, "Tyler, I saw AUH bird." "Mahin, I'm going TO the store." Not, "Mahin, I'm going TUH the store."
Believe me, trust me, adding these sharp edges to your speech patterns make people pay attention to content. It's a subconcious thing. It gives you authority.

Agree? Disagree? Too much info? ;) ("Practice speaking," that's a good one; recording these shows has been, in each of the instances we've done so, by far the most substantive, adult-level conversation I've had during those weeks. I consider it a personal victory I haven't yet fallen into sing-song mommy-speak...)

On Deck:

As I mentioned, Mike Arrington is our guest on Show 2 (in postproduction), and Jason Calacanis is on board thereafter. (Hopefully we'll accomplish a Gillmor Gang septa-fecta before all is said and done.) Thanks, as always, for listening.

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