Holy Meta, Batman! Posting about Podcasting then Podcasting the Posting about Podcasting

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I don’t really buy into learning styles as a classroom management tool, but I do buy into sound, sight, connection, and practice as personal knowledge, or as Michael Polanyi defined it, “tacit knowledge”.

I bring this up because I just finished reading a post in Medium by Matt Haughey about podcasts that rings with my own tacit practices and connections. According to Haughey, blogs have flourished, podcasts…well..they haven’t. That resonates for me. I am forever saying to myself, “I really need to podcast.” I want it to be a practice and a regular intellectual process . I want it to be an active verb in my life.

Haughey points out that podcasting has two issues that have kept folks like me from adopting it as a ‘writing’ practice. First, subscribing has too much friction and there are tech gaps to listening across platforms and across spaces. Second, there is what Haughey calls the “social problem”. You are tethered to the podcast as an audience of one. Much like reading, listening is profoudly non-social. There are exceptions to this rule (Soundcloud annotation, Vialogues, Kindle highlighting, Genius for lyrics), but Haughey is mostly right here. We are sociable beings confronted by a technology that removes us from the milieu.

In order to really take podcasting to the next level, the natural social habits of people needs to be included in how they are found, downloaded, listened to, and discussed afterwards.

Haughey has some suggestions:

1.  Make the subscription process easy, perhaps browser based, so that when you come across a podcast you can subscribe to it automatically.

2. If you want a podcast to be sociable you have to create a social space.  Haughey advises that every podcast needs a meeting place much like the one he helped create at MetaFilter.

3. Use all the potential that already exists for embedding data in the podcast RSS feed.  Yes, there really is quite a lot of meta you can cram into that feed.

4. Podcasting needs a “clip and share” app that allows you to cut out just the right moment in a podcast that you want to share with others.  This would be the biggest help as far as I am concerned.  This is what inspired me to write this.  I want audio clips to be ubiquitous in my blog posts.  I want them just like Haughey wants them.

Podcasts are usually large mp3 files but mobile apps could offer share options that give you a scrubber to highlight the audio you want to share, create a short clip, and make that shareable and embeddable in tweets, facebook, and blog posts.

Yeah, exactly what he said.  Wouldn’t this expand their use much like YouTube-to-gif apps have done for video and multimodal creation tools like Zeega and Weavly?

5. Extend the value of podcasts by having automatic transcription services.  Some are already working on this.  Although I have not done this myself, perhaps podcasting needs to be something that YouTube can do.  You can already use tools like Mechanical Turk to do a hybrid transcription.  Sorry for the density of this paragraph, but I think it shows just how up in the air and klug-y podcast consumption and production have become.  No one is jumping in to make the frictionless desktop-to-app product that works from a bookmarklet or extension in a browser.  Huffduffer shows some possibilities, but early days.

6.  Podcast MeetUps.  We go from analog (ourselves and our ears) to digital (podcasts) so why not from digital analog and use podcasts as an excuse and more to get together?  Maybe that is all one needs to build a real community, just that one little push to get together.  Who knows?

7. Connect desktop to mobile and sync.  Instacast does this on the Mac but it isn’t cross platform.  Pocket Cast syncs across platforms (Android & IOS), but doesn’t have a desktop presence.  Plus, how can we share with others, family and friends and colleagues and online buddies.  I would love to share a podcast space where I could comment back and forth asynchronously or just note where they are in the audiobook we are listening to together. Haughey’s point is that we are nowheresville on this.  He’s right.

8. Somebody needs to figure out what everybody else is listening to in your community.  Just thinking out loud here perhaps folks working in a federated wiki can share a page of podcasts that they listen to or just include an RSS feed from their podcatcher which an aggregator like Inoreader could subscribe to and share back out as another RSS feed.  OK, that’s crazy talk, but what starts in the sandbox stays in the sandbox, cat turd ideas like the above included.Is it too much to ask for a podcasting tool that is part curatorial much like Amazon reviews?

I realize that I have taken most of the content from Haughey’s post.  Not much original added to it on my part, but it has served as a template for acting.  In this case that means that I have done a pretty close reading of Haughey’s post, I have thought more in terms of my own podcasting possibilities, and I am inspired to do my own Soundcloud podcast of this blog post.


[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/183465223″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]


Some meta thoughts on podcast making.  I used my fav tool right now for a more finished sound product–Bossjock.  I am able to set up sounds in ‘cartridges’ like radio stations use stingers and commercials. I then record live adding these preset sounds.  After I am done then it encodes it and I can export it numerous places including Soundcloud (as above).  My workflow here is getting simpler all the time.



How to Slow Read

I am trying to practice slow reading over the “end of year” interweek, Boxing Day to New Year’s Day.  I am looking especially at new year’s poetry. My first peek is at Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Burning the Old Year”


Here is an image of the poem that I saved to use in the zeega you will see below.

Poems for the new year


I think that you can sometimes see physical intent in a poem by just looking at its shape.  In this case (although I might be imagining this) I do see the lines burning down and shortening like candles.   The number of lines per stanza ‘burns down’ too.  This may by unintentional , but…it is fun to look anyway.


you can join me on Genius.com (membership is free) to annotate the poem.

Burning the Old Year Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye : The Poetry Foundation


Here is a zeega that I used to translate her poem into other modes.  I used a totally apt song by Nat Baldwin that just tears me up everytime I hear it.  I edited out some words and replaced them with gifs.  Artistic license in the mashup, OK?


Here’s a Soundcloud reading of the poem.  A few more discoveries from that slow, oral reading.  The images in the fire crackle out to me.  I imagine wrapping paper where I hadn’t before and I see how this poem might have been inspired by a gift on a doorknob that turned into a gift from some Muse.

OK, now I can say that I have read the poem.  It is worth a slow go.  It is a good poem and I can tell you exactly why I think so because as I engaged with it, it engaged right back at me. Maybe you can think of other ways to engage.  I will be using this as an example for an assignment that I will be doing in my online “Intro to Lit” class this spring.  It might even make a fun #dailyconnect or a neat cooperative google doc/hackpad/diigo group annotation.

I Am a Teaching Huckster: Biometric Marketing, TechnoHavoc, and William Gibson’s Curatorial Polymer


I have been listening to William Gibson’s newest novel/cypher, The Peripheral. I stopped and decided that a much slower and more attentive inspection was owed. I am a bit gobsmacked at how much I miss in listening including this descriptive gem at the opening when a character  Leon’s old Airstream travel trailer is described as being “the color of Vaseline”.


As so often happens circumstance, particularly the morning catch from my personal learning net, brings up some fresh but unfamiliar fish or two. Two from this morning’s trawl come to mind because they are just as deep in the center of the edge as Gibson is.

The first of these is a post in Venture Beat by writer  on the coming tech havoc, 5 waves of technology disruption that are just getting started”. I almost ignored it because there is so much written this time of year about trends and anti-trends, but I perked up when it mentioned health.  One of my daughters is a nurse working in heart monitoring telemetry so when I saw mention of artificially intelligent physicians and zero cost genomic sequencing,  my antennae twitched.


It reminded me of the term ‘deep learning’ associated with AI:

[Deep learning concerns] training systems [of] artificial neural networks on lots of information derived from audio, images, or other inputs, and then presenting the systems with new information and receiving inferences about it in response.

Wadhwa’s post makes clear the importance of these big data AI systems especially regarding the burgeoning biometric data market being pushed out through ubiquitous fitness wearables.  And why is this data important? That’s what the other article I came across answered.

Cavan Canavan’s Tech Crunch article, “The Future Of Biometric Marketing” says that the data will be opening up “a frontier where we’re pulling laboratory science outside of the laboratory and creating a deluge of new data about human biometrics never before available.”

The rest of the post explores what that means to marketers. What it proves is that there is already a buyer for data from companies like FitBit and that the data will getting better as the sensors in the equipment gets better.  Right now this data is not largely open to third party developers, but it is beginning to be shared.

Canavan invites us to imagine some deep learning, biometric scenarios:

1. You go to a movie and agree to share your biometric data as you watch the movie.  No more focus groups or previews needed, right?       2. You are playing Candy Crush and your biometric data is flowing as you play.  Rewards for emotional peaks might be possible.                            3. How about a date where each party agrees to release biometrics afterwards?                                                                                                                            4. Or perhaps you aren’t feeling well and Big Pharma gets that info, pre-targeted as amenable to their products?

This is not future distant like Gibson’s seems.  This is marketing ready.

Is biometrics learning ready?  The complexity of this issue in K-12 is staggering.  Just take a look at this anti-Common Core website if you want a taste for the changing world of FERPA and COPPA and biometrics.

Here are just some of the questions that float across my radar as an instructor at university. I invite those in K-12 to bring up their own.

1.  Will universities have a genome as a biometric record in the near future?

2. Will students logon with fingerprint scanners?

3. Will educational providers like Pearson have access to that and other wearable generated data?

4. Will I use apps that access student data to determine how attentive students were over a class period?  Attentive while online?

5. Will I be required to use these analytics to ‘improve’ my online and face-to-face learning engagements?

I don’t even think I am asking the right questions.  But I do know that the market and the money will be there because it already is there.

Depending on what report you read, as many as 285 million fitness devices will be on human bodies by 2018, with a 40 percent CAGR. Smartwatch sales are predicted to grow from 1 million devices in 2013 to 92 million devices in 2018


I have been using a FitBit for at least two years to track sleep, steps, flights of stairs, and physical activity.  It is not a particularly discriminating or intelligent data stream, but it does explain something.  Whenever I have had problems with the hardware, they have replaced it immediately.  I just thought they were a great service company, but after reading these articles, I now know why they were so quick to respond.  Like a printer company, they are not interested in selling ‘printers’.  They want to sell you grossly overpriced ink.  Or in FitBit’s case, they want to sell or use your data.  And it must be worth a lot.  At the very least they are using it to promote their wellness business.  Their privacy statements seem pretty strong, but if you give a third party permission to use your FibBit data, well…I don’t know quite how that monetizes.

Back to The Peripheral.  Gibson’s new novel has its feet straddled over lots of adjacent futures.  In fact his oft-quoted phrase (or Bruce Stirling’s, who knows) has never been more apt than it is right now, “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”  I am personally living in the biometric era, early days, but I am there.  As a teacher, I am not yet there.  I am both in the future and outside the future.   It’s “curatorial polymer” all the way down to the skin. Spookier words and ways and days are yet to come and there is no getting ready for it.

I am reminded by all of this of one of my favorite 90’s movies– Joe Dante’s unlikely hit about the Cuban Missile Crisis, science fiction exploitation movies, and teen angst–Matinee .  I was eight when the Missile Crisis happened. I saw the “duck and cover” movies on 16mm projectors and we practiced those pathetically futile moves under our desks.  Today, I feel the same kind of learned powerlessness now as I felt then, trying to navigate in this brave new learning world. Yet I also feel weirdly empowered.  I want to say “Bring it!” with all the bravado I can manage. Why?  Because I am the movie huckster character that John Goodman captures so perfectly.  Part of me knows that the learning landscape is populated by scams.  I even realize that I am complicit in some of them. Yet I also know that I love telling the age old story of learning for its own sake. That drives me past the confidence game and into the space I believe in so utterly.  Like Goodman’s character in the movie:

I get to scare everybody else. But it’s for their own good. You get people who go like this [he covers his face with his hands] at the scary parts, they’re not getting the whole benefit. You gotta keep your eyes open.

Gene: What’s the benefit?

OK, like, uh, a zillion years ago, a guy’s living in a cave. He goes out one day, bam! He gets chased by a mammoth. Now he’s scared to death, but he gets away. And when it’s all over with, he feels great.

Gene: Well, yeah, ’cause he’s still living.

Yeah, but he knows he is, and he feels it. So he goes home, back to the cave. First thing he does, he does a drawing of the mammoth. And he thinks, ‘People are coming to see this. Let’s make it good. Let’s make the teeth real long, and the eyes real mean!’ [Mammoth roars] Boom! The first monster movie. That’s probably why I still do it. Make the teeth as big as you want, then you kill it off, everything’s okay, the lights come up, ahhh! You see, the people come into your cave, with a two-hundred-year-old carpet, the guys tear your ticket in half—it’s too late to turn back now!—water fountain’s all booby-trapped and ready, the stuff laid out on the candy counter. Then you come over here to where it’s dark. There could be anything in there! And you say, ‘Here I am! What’ve you got for me?’

I feel just like this in the classroom sometimes.  I punch through the double doors leading from the safety of the lobby into the theater and say the same, “What have you got for me?”  Here’s what I got for you.  It is learning distributed across the ages from the Groves of Academe to the one room school house to the citizen schools of Highlander to MOOCs and beyond.  The single line running throughout like Ariadne’s thread is teaching.  Always the teaching.  I am a huckster for teaching.  Full stop.