lundi 25 juin 2007

PAB2007 : the day after

Had a great time at PAB2007 and met tons of fantastic podcasters. What a friendly and helpful community.

I wasn't able to blog each presentation live, as intended, although I did take notes and so will be posting about other presentations heard this past weekend in Kingston over the course of the next few days.

So if you're interested in podcasting, stay tuned. There are some real gems in there.

Many thanks to Bob Goyetche, Mark Blevis, Cathy Bobkowicz , all the presenters, and everyone else who helped make PAB2007 a real success.

dimanche 24 juin 2007

PAB2007 - Day 3 Topic 3 - Audio Drama

Jack Ward of The Sonic Society gave us a brief overview of Audio Cinema, as he calls it.

Next time I hear War of the Worlds I'll think of Jack.

PAB 2007 - Day 3 Topic 2 - The 4 Rs of podcasting

Tip of the day : don't blog directly into a web browser if you're unlucky with computers. As I was finishing my blog entry on Andy Bilodeau's presentation, a browser window error message popped up.

eek. Sorry. Guess this time you really did need to be there.

PAB2007 - Day 3 - Treats for your sound

It's Sunday morning and we have Internet access in the conference room, so I'm going to take advantage of it and blog live : I'll post the rest of Day 2 topics later on.

Bruce Murray from Zed Cast is up first and he' s talking about sound : some low cost and no cost solutions for podcasters.

5 key things that can make a difference - Bruce calls them 5 treats:

1. Treat your room
2. Treat your voice
3. Treat your mic
4. Treat your file
5. Treat your listener

Treat your room

According to Bruce, there are 2 things to consider : isolation and reverberation.

For podcasters who work in studio (or at home), the goal is to cut down as much ambient sound as possible. So turn off everything that makes interfering sound (air conditioners, fans, dimmers etc). The mic will pick up sound that you won't necessarily hear when you're recording. The goal is to create a dry sound. You can create 'soft walls' by hanging up packing blankets, drop cloths or screens, for example. Also, it's important to avoid hard and parallel surfaces as well as corners. Setting up corner baffles is a solution. Reflection filters can be very practical, although an investment for podcasters. Bruce built his own out of recycled materials : cardboard tubes and foam.

Ground loop hums are caused by wiring or audio equipment. To avoid this, use the same plug strip for all your equipment. Separate power cords from signal cables to minimize humming caused by magnetic fields. If they must cross, cross them at right angles so they have the least amount of contact possible. Try to keep cables shorter than 2 metres, as coiling causes magnetic fields. Drop them loosely on the floor. To quote Bruce, the neat packing of cables is not your friend. Use balanced (XLR) cables.

Mobile podcasting brings a few solutions. Cars provide podcasters with the ideal soundbooth. Being able to move your podcast to a quiet area, such as a park, is also an advantage (in fact, someone said yesterday that he has podcasted from the local cemetery).

Treat your voice

Bruce recommends brushing your teeth, drinking water with lemon, avoiding dairy. Reading and rehearsing your script is important. Humming, sighs and stretches are important for vocal warmup. Standing up makes you sound more animated.

Treat your mic
Use windscreens. Pop filters. Shock mounts for microphones, to reduce vibration.

Treat your file

Try to get the hottest signal that you can without clipping. If possible, put audio on separate tracks, giving you control over volume. Free filters are available through programs like Audacity and The Levelator (particularly good for panel discussions). SpitFish, FloorFish and BlockFish are free plug-ins that can be very useful. Sound FX are available through, Free Sound Project and SoundoftheDay Podcast. Encode at 44.1 kHz to avoid the chipmunk effect.

Treat your listener

Fill out ID3 tags. Use consistent sound levels.

Other sources:

Thanks, Bruce, for these tips. A pdf version is available through his site.

samedi 23 juin 2007

PAB2007 - Day 2 Topic 4 - How podcasting will save the world

Listening to podcasts inspired Montreal’s Hugh McGuire to launch LibriVox, an open project which, he claims, is the most prolific audio publisher in the world. LibriVox is part of the podcasting family that seeks to open things up and construct on a non-economic model. McGuire feels that evidence-based thinking and decision-making … or the ability to manage data … is part of what gives humans an evolutionary advantage. Societies are most stable when they are able to solve problems. The basis of democracy is to open data up to many people and allow them to make decisions based on that data. McGuire proposes that opening data to more people means more problems can be solved, which, in turn, creates a stable society.

As an example, he talks about a podcast for OBGYN residents, as a platform to exchange information and share learning.

Conclusion? Podcasting will probably NOT save the world, but it’ll help.

PAB2007 continued

The previous PAB2007 postings were live, or almost live. Then the hotel wi-fi connection died on us, so I continued writing in Word. The following Day 2 excerpts are time delayed. Let's see how much I retained ... or retained correctly anyway.

PAB2007 - Day 2, Topic 3 - Licensing

The unveiling of the Canadian Podcasting Legal Guide happened today at PAB2007. Andy Kaplan-Myrth of Creative Commons explained that copyrighting happens automatically for all creative work, including podcasting and therefore gets default protection. Only the copyright owner can distribute, copy and modify their work. When you write All Rights Reserved in your work, you are being redundant in emphasizing an automatic right. Sampling excerpts of podcasts, or sharing a podcast through a site that is not that of the creator is an infringement of copyright. Especially if money is involved.

Creative Commons licenses works out as ‘some rights reserved’. It is a tool that allows podcasters to distribute their work more broadly. Six different standards of licences exist, with different configurations of what is permissible.

A Canadian version of the license is available, and has been customized for Canadian law. Kaplan-Myrth encourages Canadian podcasters to choose this version in order to benefit from greater protection.

Kathi Simmons takes over to explain that the guide is an educational resource and legal roadmap to help podcasters navigate Canada’s complex legal waters. Copies of the guide are made available to PAB2007 participants. A downloadable version will be online shortly and a wiki is in the works.

PAB2007 - Day 2, Topic 2 - Podcasting as a Community

Today’s second presentation also talks about the space podcasting occupies in the modern landscape.

Ted Riecken of compares podcasting communities to medieval cities and frontier culture. According to Canadian anarchist George Woodcock, medieval cities were liberatory zones, attracting people who were excluded and who came together to survive. They joined together to avoid servitude : were independent, free thinkers. Riecken states that Libsyn, LibriVox and CFR are contemporary equivalents to these medieval cities. They are free and accessible – open and libratory spaces. Common interests come together through podcasts and they represent authentic, realistic alternatives for learning and sharing. Riecken is excited by the fact that podcasting exists in a mostly unregulated space.

Riecken also draws a parallel between podcasting and frontier culture: both are emergent, transitory, evolving, accessible. Both use limited and alternative forms of commerce. There is a common emphasis on freedom, opportunity and growth. Like the medieval city, frontier culture operates on the periphery. Again, the same can be said for podcasting, which sits outside the mainstream.

Riecken has attemped to categorize the podcasting community present at today’s PAB2007. Most are in the education and learning category of podcasting. Another large group is what he calls regional culture: podcasters talking about life as it is lived in their part of their world. Storytelling and personal blogs also occupy significant space.

Riecken emphasizes the importance of diversity, critical inquiry and thought.

Marshall McLuhan’s ghost is very present in the room this morning. Both speakers have evoked him and his impact on the media landscape, which now permeates podcasting. I wonder what Canada’s favourite media guru would think of the podcaster revolution.

Contributions from PAB2007 participants: – directory to check out
Facebook – 'a supersaturated solution to crystallize interest around podcasts'

PAB 2007 - Day 2

It's a testament to how interesting the first day of the PAB 2007 conference was that I didn't get a chance to blog about it until this morning.

Yesterday, Tod Maffin regaled us with great radio clips meant to illustrate different storytelling tips. Some great stuff in there. The PAB2007 organisers treated us to a boat cruise, then took us to The Merchant Taps pub for some good times and music. Tod had me play this great little game : Zerts. Heard of it? Pretty cool.

I'm here at PAB2007 for my 'culture générale', as they say, but now also with another mandate : to see how feasible it would be to launch a podcast in the fall for Canada's Telecommunications Hall of Fame. To his credit, my client is open to the idea. This weekend will help me make a final decision about whether or not I want to go forward. I have a feeling I will.

Today's first speaker : Arthur Masters ( speaking on 'Context is King'. He's talking about futurists. He's proposing that we've now moved from radio's Content is King maxim to Context is King. In a 1993 edition of Wired Magazine, Alvin Toffler predicted specialization : podcasting seems to be the manifestation of this vision, with the huge variety of podcasts and niche subjects they encompass. Today's podcasters are in a socialist or communist movement, according to Masters, acting not out of profit but of passion, with the democratisation of the tools and the means of production. This is a Marxist 21st Century's electronic factory. Masters also broaches the topic of online communities taking the power away from hit makers : referrals now come from many sources now that the tools of production are accessible to everyone.

As I listen to Masters, I can’t help imagining him as a 19th century revivalist preacher, espousing hope and a new way of finding salvation through podcasting. During the Q&A session, Julien Smith nostalgically talks about Masters’ idealism, reflects on what podcasting used to be about and yearns for a return to podcasting’s sources. I guess I missed something by jumping on the bandwagon at this stage. But hey. We can’t all be pioneers. It’s certainly nice to be able to absorb the wisdom, now.

vendredi 22 juin 2007


I'm here. Tried to keep up during a very-tech intro presentation and now Tod Maffin's up.

He says I'll get more out of his conference if I don't blog at the same time, so I'm going to follow his recommendation.

Catch ya later.


vendredi 15 juin 2007

Bravo aux jeunes de la SQPRP: un pas vers les médias sociaux

La Société québécoise des professionnels en relations publiques (anciennement la SRQ) se trempe enfin le gros orteil dans le monde des médias sociaux. Ses jeunes ont créé un groupe SQPRP dans Facebook.

Olivier Laniel serait son créateur et Sophie Labelle, nouvelle présidente des jeunes relationnistes, se trouve parmi ses premiers membres.

Les adeptes de Facebook pourront se joindre au groupe ici.

Pour quand le blogue?


Ceci me permet d'annoncer une petite nouvelle-dans-le-monde-de-Michelle-Sullivan.

Pour ceux qui ne le savent pas encore, ce ne sera pas moi qui dirigera la SQPRP vers l'univers des blogues, contrairement à ce que j'avais annoncé dans ce blogue il y a un certain temps. Non seulement j'ai démissionné du comité qui avait enfin accepté ma proposition (après deux ans), j'ai décidé de ne pas prendre ma carte de membre cette année. Depuis que je suis passée dans la cour des grands, j'y vois de moins en moins davantages. Pour des jeunes, il n'y a rien de mieux. Pour les moins jeunes comme moi? Plus sur.

Quand je compare les frais d'adhésion (430$ par an! Environ la moitié des fonds allant au CPRS ... ) avec ce que j'obtiens en tant que membre, j'arrive à la conclusion que, tout comme un grand nombre de professionnels encore plus chevronnés que moi, je préfère assister en tant que non-membre aux activités qui m'intéressent et cotiser ailleurs, comme à la Chambre de commerce, là ou je risque de rencontrer des clients potentiels. J'ai contribué des centaines d'heures de bénévolat aux projets de la SQPRP ces dernières années. C'est une décision qui a été difficile à prendre, mais mon entreprise étant encore jeune, des choix stratégiques sont à faire et un recul s'impose.

On me dit qu'une réforme se prépare. Je suivrai les développements avec intérêt, sachant que ceux qui siègent au CA sont de bonne volonté et travaillent pour le bien de la profession. Leur récente décision de modifier les règlements du Prix Équinoxes afin d'éliminer toute apparence de conflit d'intérêt en témoigne.

Donc bravo aux jeunes .. et bon courage aux autres!

Facebook limitations

Perhaps I shouldn't admit this publicly, as it might discourage potential suitors, but I have come to the conclusion that I always expect more from those I love most. Apparently, this does not limit itself to the human creature.

Now I've already gushed my admiration for Google in the 'pages' of this blog. Today it's Facebook's turn, although the gushing will be more subdued.

Why subdued?

Well because despite the fact that I love it for all its wonderful qualities, Facebook is letting me down somewhat.

In a nutshell: it's not doing everything I want it to do. My expectations are high and it's not meeting all of them.

Long version: With the blessing of two of my clients, I've begun experimenting with Facebook applications, namely the Group function.

First off, I realized that in the case of least one of my clients, given my responsibilities as Director of Corporate Outreach, I would need to set up a 2nd profile. Luckily that client provided me with a separate email address that lets me pass the system's filters. It would be great if Facebook provided levels of access to information so that I could keep my personal and professional lives a little more separate. This is the only way I've found to do that with any degree of certitude.

Secondly, I realized that Groups have their limitations. It's great to be able to send messages to all and take advantage of Facebook's inherent viral capabilities. In the case of one of my clients, who has his own Facebook profile and a great network, it's perfect. We set up the group. All his friends and professional contacts from Facebook joined. And their friends joined. And so on and so on. The only thing holding this Group back is the work I still have to do to train my client to actually FEED the page with new material to keep interest lively. But that's another story.

For my other client, who is a globetrotting lawyer in Ottawa who knew nothing about Facebook until I introduced him to it a couple of months ago, it's another story altogether. With no built in network to work from, and with a mandate to bulid notoriety, I embarked on a journey of seeking out like-minded people and groups. Facebook's group search function made that easy. Facebook protocol and spam filters made my life more difficult, however.

Which brings me to the crux of my issue with Facebook. It's not great for networking with people you don't know. Approaching non-friends is a delicate matter, apparently. Approaching Group creators has been quite fruitful, and those who have replied to my Facebook-mail request to add a post to their Group wall and/or discussion forum about my client's Outreach have responded favourably. Slowly, the network is building.

Slowly being the key word.

My outreach efforts have been hampered somewhat by Facebook's spam filters. Not wishing to be accused of spamming groups, I decided to approach their creators first. About a dozen or so. Have them pave the road a little, if you will. Problem is that, although I did personalize each communication, there are only so many ways to explain who I am, who my client is and what I want. Facebook sent me a warning, advising me that I risked being banned from the site for spamming. Eek.

Here's Facebook's reply to my request for guidance:

Please feel free to proceed in using our message and wall post features. Please be sure to avoid writing the same message or text in multiple messages and wall posts because it might get flagged as spam. If you would like to get the same message to multiple people, you can alwaysmessage up to twenty friends at once by starting a message thread fromyour Inbox.

Problem is, group creators won't become my friend until I introduce myself properly and a relationship is built. Some have, in fact, accepted friend invitations after an exchange of emails. But that exchange had to happen first.

And Facebook won't let me send the same message to a group of people who aren't already my friends. And besides, I want to personalize my messages. Not spam ...

I'm starting to feel like a chicken. Or is that an egg?

My PR strategy has hit a snag that will require even more creativity and effort on my part as I try to weasel my way past spam filters branding my I swear I am not a spammer flag.

I wonder if that means that I'm trying to turn Facebook into something he's ... erm .. it's not. Where's my Web 2.0 is from Jupiter, Women are from Venus book?

If you're a Facebook subscriber who would like to check out my Facebook endeavours, you can find my 2 groups, here (Rats de Ville) and here (Canada's Telecommunications Hall of Fame). Help a girl out. Tell your friends!

And please. Feel free to 'friend' me. I'm thinking of creating a group to donate $1 for every person who befriends me to some worthy cause. Like The Siamese Cat Friendship Society or maybe PRPPA : PR professionals' procrastinators anonymous.

Note to potential suitors : I'm not as crazy as I sound. Really. No, really.

mardi 5 juin 2007

Les 24 heures de Calgary

Enfin arrivee a Vancouver (sans clavier francais), je peux enfin me reposer quelques jours. Hier, j'etais a Calgary pour la realisation du diner VIP du Temple de la renommee des telecommunications du Canada . Ce n'est pas toujours evident d'organiser un evenement a distance, mais heureusement le tout s'est deroule a merveille.

Et ils nous aiment! Du moins c'est ce qu'ils m'ont dit, ces gens de Calgary, qu'ils soient chauffeurs de taxi ou geants du monde des telecommunications. Ils ne parlaient qu'en bien de Montreal et faisaient leur possible pour prononcer quelques mots dans la langue de Moliere. Disons que j'ai ete agreablement surprise par leur courtoisie. Enfin ... le rapport Options Canada venant de sortir et ceci n'etant pas un blogue politique, passons.

J'ai surtout apprecie mes echanges avec un Torontois, Lawrence Surtees, ancien journaliste du Globe & Mail et expert en telecommunications. A un moment donne, on vantait les merites de Facebook a mon client et quelques invites quand le serveur s'est arrete en riant et en expliquant que nous etions la 4e table a parler de Facebook au cours des minutes precedentes. Comme quoi le phenomene Facebook prend de l'ampleur un peu partout au Canada.

On me dit que MySpace demeure plus populaire en Amerique, mais que dans nos quelques arpents de neige, Facebook occupe une place imposante.

Quelques statistiques ici.

1% of all time spent on the Internet is Facebook