How do I know? Podcasts, TWIT

Apple iPod, 2nd Generation

Apple iPod, 2nd Generation

In a previous post, I began unpacking how I know about cool tech stuff these days. There are a lot of great sites on the Web, and figuring where to start is the problem. Although I had been using the Internet for some time, relying on the Web for tech information really began with Podcasts. I first learned about the format in early 2005. It was an intriguing idea; an audio file that automatically downloaded to my desktop whenever a new episode became available, and could be easily moved to my newly purchased, 2nd generation iPod. I had a long commute each day, and the idea of having something besides the radio for entertainment was very appealing. There wasn’t much to choose from yet, but I began having fun with Adam Curry (of MTV fame) and his show, The Daily Sourcecode.

Shortly after, I became aware of This Week in Tech, first published in April of 2005. and hosted by Leo Laport. Besides Leo, the show featured many of the original Screen Savers, a show first aired on Paul Allen’s now defunct Tech TV. Over the succeeding months, it became clear that besides the informal and entertaining radio show format, there was much very useful tech information for the Internet and startup age. I was hooked and began listening every week.

MacBreak Weekly appeared next in August of 2006, and featured Mac-centric discussions of gear and all things Apple. It was a good fit for my interests since I managed a large fleet of Macintosh computers for the College of Fine Arts, and it quickly became a favorite. I was now spending four hours a week with audio-based technical content. It was a great use of otherwise wasted time, and to my surprise yielded links to other useful content in the Tech and startup worlds as well as tips and reviews of Mac (and later iOS) applications. I was efficiently gaining much-needed insights into the technology landscape.

Photography was next in January of 2008 with This Week in Photography. Although not closely related to my professional work, it provided great information for one of my hobbies, and further fueled my enthusiasm for the podcast medium.

Today, there are literally thousands of podcasts, and the TWIT network has grown to over 50 shows. Podcasts, or Netcasts as some prefer, come in all information and entertainment categories and even include offerings from many major universities. Chances are, audio and video recorded material can be found in the iTunes Store for almost any interest. So — if you have time to kill during a commute or while engaged in activities that leave the mind free, they can be an efficient way to find out about almost anything.


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What Tech Web sites Do I Read?

A student recently asked me how I learn about the technology we study in class. We had just talked about the music video “You’ll Return” and how it was made, and she was looking for the best web sites to learn about such tech marvels. As I explained, it’s not that simple. There are many, many useful sites on the Internet, and over time, I’ve learned about a few that feed my interests. That got me to thinking: how do I learn about what’s cool? It would be interesting to see if I can follow the threads of tech and share them with others.

I’ve always been interested in tech, and read magazines like Popular Electronics, 73 Magazine and QST since I was in high school. The computer age introduced me to Byte Magazine, PC World, Atari ST and others that followed the microcomputer revolution. My interest in MIDI and synthesizers was fueled by Electronic Musician and Mix Magazine. I looked forward to each monthly installment and read these publications from cover to cover. It was the lifeblood of my technical interests.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact transition from print to the Web, but now, I rarely look at technical magazines. The pre-Web Internet was populated by the wonders of Gopher (look it up!) and Bulletin Boards (BBS) including that wonder of wonders: UseNet. Not only could you look for information on specialized topics, there were others like you who would engage in a conversation (albeit asynchronously) on almost any specialized topic. It was a dream come true for information-starved techies and just too convenient and compelling. It was the age of the Internet and its super-charged access to information of all sorts.

So, where to begin? Over a series of posts, I hope to make an information map of how I know. It will include Web sites, Podcasts, Google searches, and Wikipedia. Blogs, YouTube videos, Tweets, and Google+ posts. How did I learn, for example, that the music video, “You’ll Return” was made with an awesome app on the iPad called Auria — 48 tracks of sonic magic. In the process, I hope to learn how to pass the skills and insights needed to turn the morass of data on the Internet into Information. Something we can use.


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A Social Media Case Study: A Home Base for Content

With “The Entrepreneurial Artist” in hiatus until next fall, it’s time to reflect on the past semester and see what we’ve learned. I wanted the students to use, or at least understand, more social media strategies.  Expanding my own use of online media as an incentive (“you have to eat the dog food!”), I initiated a number of new online accounts.  It’s now time to rationalize all of that activity. First step: an inventory of my social media and links:

map of JBK's online media

Drew Carls, Digital Content Coordinator for the University of Texas at Austin, spoke with our class last semester, and promoted several ideas, including having a “home base” for your content., is my home base. Everything I publish online can be found there — either with links on the home page, or through links and feeds. So far, so good. He had several other ideas:

  • Be a good writer. It’s the #1 skill for success on the Web.
  • Don’t link, write about the content. What do you think about the content?
  • Be discoverable. How will people find you?
  • Be sharable. Is it easy for others to promote your work?

Next: Can you tell a good story, or why so many web sites?


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A Low-Cost Video Rig for the iPad Mini

iOgrapher iPad Screen ViewThe Apple iPad Mini is a great video camera with both a 1080P HD video camera and a large, high resolution screen for viewing shots. Adding the iOgrapher case makes it even better though, with handles, a tripod mount and a 37 mm threaded mount for accessory lenses. Cold-shoe mounts are also available on the top of the case for attaching lights and microphones. Add a battery-powered LED light and the iRig audio adapter, and you can light your scene and use a balanced microphone to capture sound. A low-cost tripod from Manfrotto completes the rig.iOgrapher front view with LED light and lens 37 mm accessory lenses intended for camcorders are an inexpensive addition, and allow for  variety of shots. I have 0.4x Fisheye, 0.45x wide and 2x telephoto lenses in my kit. Although the included iOS Camera App is fine to get started, FiLMiC Pro allows for a greater degree of control while shooting.  With adjustable frame and data rates, onscreen audio monitoring and presets, it really enhances the capabilities of the rig. You can even get the FiLMiC Remote app and control the camera from your iPhone!

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What is a Social Blog?

In his article “The Last Social Blogging Guide You Will Ever Need“, Mike Elgan provides the clearest description of social blogging I have yet seen.  Based on another idea by Dave Winer that a social blog is the “unedited voice of a person“, Mike suggests that many popular blogs today are really mission or editorially-driven publishing. Rather than seeking the joy of personal exploration or human contact, they are intent on attracting followers or driving business.  Not bad things, but different than the engaging process of getting to know an individual.  He also suggests that writing about experiences, what you are thinking, or what you have made are good blog subjects.  Recommended reading for anyone who is looking for another approach to blogging.

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Gutenberg the Geek

Gutenberg the Geek book cover

Gutenberg the Geek book cover

There are many striking similarities between Johannes Gutenberg and modern-day entrepreneurs. Gutenberg the Geek by Jeff Jarvis makes good reading for anyone interested in this proto-entrepreneur who changed history with the invention of the printing press.  Talk about putting a “ding in the universe”! The Kindle and Audible editions are currently available for 99 cents.

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First Day of Class


All the hard work is about to pay off. Nine students registered, and we made it to the first class day. We’ll talk about an early entrepreneur, and trade information about our interest in the course. Looking forward to meeting the students and learning more about them. Should be a fun semester!

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The Entrepreneurial Artist Begins!

Over the last year or so, I’ve nurtured a dream of helping our students and others learn to use mobile and web-based tools to produce and promote their creative efforts.  Beginning with an opportunity to teach in the Bridging Disciplines Program here at the University of Texas at Austin, an idea has taken shape.  There’s a lot of work to do before classes start, but it’s time to begin sharing progress and ideas. I had previously taught Electronic Music and Sound Design topics in the Butler School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance, but new processes and tools have been added since then.  There are course management systems to program and web sites to design. Teaching materials and presentations to build.  Gone are the days when we walked into the classroom at the top of the hour, lectured for 50 minutes and then left.  Teaching has become a much more comprehensive and immersive endeavor.

I love it.

The Entrepreneurial Artist represents the best opportunity to inspire students and participate with them in the dream of creating something new. This is going to be a thrilling semester.

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Makers by Chris Anderson

Makers by Chris AndersonChris Anderson, Editor of Wired Magazine, has written several books on technology. His latest, Makers, talks about his experiences in the maker movement and building a company to produce drones. His persuasive discussion of open source is a worthwhile read for anyone pursuing a business that produces software or hardware.

Makers ranges from the first industrial revolution to modern-day crowdsourced funding.  The split between those who make bits and those who make atoms is a useful discussion of manufacturing trends.  The book provides a road map of modern making with examples of successful businesses.

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