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June 28, 2005

Podcasting and Radio, the Bitterest of Pills

Melodramatic subject header aside, I want to get serious. We're not a bunch of gothed out highschool drama geeks here, this is adult business I come to share! Interest in podcasting is rising at a friggin' hourly rate. I've been reading alot of introductory articles from news sources located all over the country. Soon my mom will know what a podcast is, and my dad will be posting sermons to an xml feed. If you still don't know what podcasting is and you want to know more, here's a good example of what I've been getting in my email lately.

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The only part of this article I disagree with is the labeling of podcasting as a mere "trend". I was talking with Jon about it the other day and while I do think the heat over this innovation will die down, I don't think it has the transient quality I would associate with the word "trend". The difference between podcasting and something trendy like say, neon legwarmers, friendship bracelets and Paris Hilton's Career is that the technology has broken an irreversible barrier. Now that the podcast cat is out of the cultural bag, there's no stopping it. Podcasters have tasted the freedom that comes with throwing down the shackles of mainstream radio, and like file sharing, this new technology will continue its spread indefinately. Podcasting works for people on a basic level: now ANYONE is capable of talking about WHATEVER they wish, and they are allowed a platform to grab the world's ear. People inherently crave a podium, and that is what podcasting taps into. So no, we're not talking about a trend when we consider it on that level.

Just wanted to add my 2 cents there. Carry on.

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June 27, 2005

Great American Minds

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I just wanted to announce the completion of a new topic page for Presidential Biography Audio Books. The presidential biography is becoming a fairly popular genre of nonfiction these days. I was just at Barnes & Noble today and I saw a massive display of David McCullough history books, most of which deal exclusively with the lives of the great presidents. I'm sure in the great pantheon of presidents, you wouldn't have thought of John Adams first, right? Well now with the popularity of his biography, a president I can honestly say I never thought about once in my life is all over the place! I remember once when the President visited my College back when I was in Milwaukee (I was an um, parking attendent and Bush was there to talk to our alumni or whatnot). The first tangible sign of his prescence was this massive jet going over our heads. Yeah, Air Force One is bigger in person. I'll admit, I listen to these biographies. This is as close as we get to royalty in America.

Expect a McCullough author page soon as well...

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June 25, 2005

The Blind Children's Learning Center

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I participated in a 5K walk today to raise money for the Blind Children's Learning Center in Santa Ana, California. The BCLC helps to develop the full potential of blind and visually impaired children and youth. It was a great morning and so much fun to see both the center and the children who benefit from it. Especially touching was a set of songs performed by Cody Lee, a very talented boy who attends the center.

Our plan is to work with organizations like the Blind Children's Learning Center to help bring audio learning programs to blind and visually impaired youth. One of the things we're hoping to roll out soon is a program where you can donate used audiobooks and we'll work to get them into hands of youth like the ones who attend the BCLC. Audio learning represents an awesome opportunity for these children to learn more about the world and we're very happy to be able to support that.

For more information on the Blind Children's Learning Center, please click here.

For more photos of today's walk, click here and here.

 

June 22, 2005

The Summer of the Podcast

I heard it from Seth yesterday. "This summer is going to be the summer of the podcast." Every indication I'm receiving says this is dead on the money. For example, check out the following links that I stumbled across today:

Odeo Review and First Look at Odeo

Podcasting Profit @ Audible.com

iTunes 4.9 to Support Podcasting

What's all of this going to mean for the audio learning space? A lot. Now in addition to having a wide array of audiobooks to choose from when you want to learn something, you'll now have podcasts to choose from as well. And while we'll be the first to admit that the quality of the typical podcast isn't all that great we expect that to change dramatically over the next year. Once it's as easy as a single click in your iTunes to subscribe to a podcast, the market goes from thousands to millions almost overnight.

Yup, it's going to be a hot summer.

 

June 22, 2005

Marianne Williamson

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I had the distinct privilege of seeing Marianne Williamson speak in Santa Monica tonight. She has a wonderful presence and is a tremendous speaker. A couple of the quotes that I wrote down from the lecture:


Some of your greatest successes you've deemed failures. Some of your greatest failures you've deemed successes.
Only what you are not giving is what is lacking in the situation.
(Quoting Martin Luther King Jr.) Your life begins to end on the day when you stop talking about what really matters.

(You can find some more cool Marianne Williamson quotes here.)

It was good timing that I went tonight because Seth just put up a new Marianne Williamson author page. He did an awesome job with the bio and assembling the wide array of her audio and video material that currently exists. You'll definitely want to check it out.

I was also impressed with Williamson's political involvement. She is working hard to lobbying for the creation of a U.S. Department of Peace which has to be one of the coolest and most refreshing ideas I've heard recently. For more information and to find out how you can join her campaign, click here.

What an amazing woman. It's an honor to be able to feature her on LearnOutLoud.com.

(Note: I see that Seth and I both just posted blog entries on Marianne at almost the identical time. Ah heck, we'll just leave 'em both up for you! :))

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June 22, 2005

Miraculous Audio Books

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Whether or not you agree there should be a Secretary of Peace (I do for what its worth), Marianne Williamson has really made same waves recently in her efforts to make this position happen in the U.S. Cabinet. I just finished an extensive Williamson Author Page, that among other things is possibly the most exhaustive tome you'll ever find for Williamson Audio Books on the web. I know I say that with every author page, but after entering a ton of her titles, I mean it extra special this time. I pulled out all the stops and it sort of hurt. Physically.

Nevertheless, I want to assure you that I feel it was all for a good cause. Williamson is an interesting woman, part political activist, part new-age guru, part social worker. It's a unique combination. I wouldn't put it past her to start delving into science before too long.

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June 14, 2005

H.G. Wells

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With interest in War of the Worlds at an all time high, we've decided you may want to know more about the author of the original book. I just finished an H.G. Wells Author Page for your enjoyment. Believe me, its full of great audio books that shouldn't be missed. I hadn't realized Well's had such an output of continuous classics. I mean you shouldn't skip any of them; every title is basically world famous, from "The Time Machine" to "The Invisible Man". So if your interested in War of the Worlds lately, you'll have to go on and check out more from this guy. Imagine if Bram Stoker had written three books on the scale of Dracula! Again, I can't believe how many classics Well's managed to write.

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June 11, 2005

G8 Agrees to Debt Relief for Poor Nations

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I'm going to take a step away from our business for a couple of minutes to call your attention to something historic that happened today. Today finance ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations agreed to a deal to cancel at least $40 billion worth of debt owed by the World's poorest nations. For more on this momumental agreement, read the full story here. This debt relief will allow poor countries to improve health and education services and expand infrastructure. This has been the goal of organizations such as One.org, DATA and the Jubilee USA Network.

Why is this important? Well, let me quote from Bono's acceptance speech at the 2005 TED Awards:

Six and a half thousand Africans dying every single day from AIDS, a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can get in any pharmacy. That's not a cause. That's an emergency. Eleven million AIDS orphans in Africa, 20 million by the end of the decade. That's not a cause. That's an emergency. Today, every day, 9,000 more Africans will catch HIV because of stigmatization and lack of education. That's not a cause. That's an emergency. So what we're talking about here is human rights - the right to live like a human. The right to live period. What we're facing in Africa is an unprecedented threat to human dignity and equality.

Thousands, if not millions, of lives will be saved because of the decision. But there is much more work to be done in developing countries. With the upcoming G8 summit in Edinburgh there has never been a better time to make your voice heard. To lend your hand, visit the following websites:

http://www.one.org
http://www.makepovertyhistory.org
http://www.data.org
http://www.jubileeusa.org

We're getting there. One step at a time...

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June 11, 2005

War of the Worlds

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Hey there, I just wanted make note that I finished a War of the Worlds Topic Page. This is a great one-stop resource for everything avialable on audio and video for War of the Worlds up to this point. There's so many radio shows out that I think people have forgotten it all started with a book.

So I dusted off my old Orson Welles War of the Worlds Cd, and re-read the surprisingly brief (I remember it being HUGE when I was younger) book, and I'm... still indifferent to the hype over this new Tom Cruise movie. Nevertheless, I adore the book; it was the first "real" novel I ever read by myself (I was in 2nd Grade). The Mercury Theatre broadcast is probably the most infamous radio show of all time, and yes, it still rocks. I hope the new movie at least has tripods instead of flying mushrooms.

So is anyone else excited by this new War of the Worlds Movie? Is it going to have anything to do with the book or is it just an excuse for ILM to blow up a new city?

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June 10, 2005

My Life by Bill Clinton Selected Audiobook of the Year

BK_RAND_000449.jpgBill Clinton's memoir My Life was selected as Audiobook of the Year at the recent "Audies" presentation sponsored by the Audiobook Publishers Association. The audiobook was narrated by President Bill Clinton and published by Random House.

I listened to My Life but I listened to the unabridged version which was read by Michael Beck. Beck did a really good job of sounding like Clinton without actually being Clinton. In other words, not nearly as raspy... For my review of the unabridged version of My Life, click here.

A couple of other interesting facts from the APA:

-APA estimates the size of the audiobook market at $800 million.
-The industry grew 5.1 percent from 2002 to 2003.

For info about the Audie awards including a complete list of winners, click here.

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