Podcasts and good old RSS

Once I started seriously listening to podcasts, I quickly reached the point where there are more podcasts, (entire shows, not just episodes,) than I can possibly keep up with. I’m left with the choice between staying subscribed to podcasts where I want to listen to only some of the episodes, or unsubscribing and knowing that I’m missing some gems.

…and then I remember this is all just RSS.

In my podcast player, (which is Overcast,) I now keep only the shows that are my dedicated favorites; shows that I generally listen to every episode. I moved all the other podcasts into my RSS reader, (which is Reeder.) I even added a bunch of shows which I had completely given up hope of being able to even follow them looking for gems.

This had two huge benefits:

First, it improved my podcast listening experience: Not keeping all of those podcast shows subscribed in my podcast player, means less downloading and less skipping. I don’t like having to wait, so I have everything set to pre-download, and removing a lot of podcasts makes a big difference. But even more important, there’s now much less distraction. When I’m in the mood, (or the time, or the place,) to listen to podcasts, I tend to continue listening by default. I’m more likely to listen “just a bit farther” to see if this episode is going to be good, whereas if I had read the summary I might have skipped it altogether. So my podcast listening experience winds up having far more great episodes because it’s just the shows I love.

Second, it actually leads to me finding more gems: When I open my RSS reader, (as I do every day,) I’m in “skimming mode.” I’m looking for things to queue for later reading. (Pocket and Instapaper for the win.) There’s very little effort for me to skim the episode descriptions, and when I find one that looks good I add it to my podcast player. This does require me to switch apps, search, and then add a specific episode. But this small effort helps ensure that the episode is likely to be one I would really like to listen to.

There’s one detail that is a slight snag: How do you find a podcast’s feed URL? We’re all so used to searching in our podcast player apps, but you need the actual podcast feed URL to add it to your RSS reader. You’ll discover that none of the podcast player apps, and none of the directories, (Stitcher, Google, Apple, etc.,) make it easy to find the shows’ underlying podcast URL. The easiest way to do it is to use the handy search on James Cridland’s, Podnews.net (no relation/benefit to me.) It pulls the show’s information from the directories, and explains all the details about that show’s configuration including a handy RSS link icon that has the URL.

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Seattle and back again

I think I may finally have reached a point where travelling is all-out pleasant. Not the sacharine, “I’m excited to be going on a vacation,” pleasant, but the really core-deep, “if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is,” sort of pleasant.

For a long time I’ve been dutifully posting every day. It’s important to me because it involves writing and I’m a firm believer of: If you cannot write clearly, then you don’t think as clearly as you think you do. But as I departed for Seattle, I was simply okay with knowing I wasn’t going to write for a week (or more, as it turns out.)

Mind you, I get stopped by TSA every time. Even now that I’ve registered with the TSA as a known traveler, I still get “pulled aside.” On the way out, they looked for the podcast audio cables. On the way back, they wanted to see my bar of soap. Mind you, they’ve run a background check on me, and fingerprinted me to register as a “known traveler.” But at least I get to go to the speedy line for being pulled aside. And it was still pleasant. So many great things lay ahead and behind during both legs of the trip, that I was just like, “if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” And, “yes sir, you’ll find the soap in that little black zipper back, in the black plastic case. It’s shaped liked a bar of soap. #sorrynotsorry about the hair.”

Driving into and out of the Cascade Mountains? Bonkers awesome. (Words fail me in case you cannot tell.)

Spending days with 100 friends old and new? Bonkers awesome.

Rustic cabin, roaring wood stove, food, conversations, 30 interviews with all the event presenters and session leaders, and the massive waves of positive comments and thank-you-s for the entire Movers Mindset project and team? Bonkers awesome.

Seattle AirBNB, coffee, 7 incredible interviews for the podcast, coffee, dinnerS with local friends, coffee, playing in Volunteer Park barefoot in “the tree,” coffee, random organic apples, coffee, more friends, more coffee? Bonkers. Awesome.

Home, then exhausted, then bronchitis and maybe some GI complications from my new friend Lyme Disease? Seriously, still bonkers awesome.

Chilly fall evening, grill going, sunset? Definitely bonkers awesome.

If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

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Get out of the way

This is why “culture” in business matters. Because it allows people to see whether or not they’re allowed to cut the metaphorical knot.

~ Hugh MacCleod, from https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2019/08/28/gordian-knot-culture/

I was recently asked, “What’s the hardest part, for you, about podcasting?”

Staying out of the way.

I’ve spent so much of my life diving in and fixing things, that it has become my first instinct. To rush in and grab the controls. To attach a sense of artificial urgency to everything. To become frustrated that others aren’t immediately taking action now that a solution or idea has been found.

Certainly, an important step is to first cultivate a team who can do great work. But once that’s done enough, the hard part for me is staying out of their way.

Many people would say that I value action over thought. This is absolutely not the case. I am driven to find evidence, to investigate, to look for previous examples of similar solutions and ideas, to gather data, to analyze, to sort, to organize, to imagine… and then I act— often frenetically.

It is right before that last step that I’m learning to self-intervene.

Ready!

Aim!

Get out of the way.

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Evolution of my field recording kit

Day One

Zoom H4N recorder, a pair of SM58s (didn’t even have pop filter foam covers) with table-top mic stands. I went to the trouble of finding a power cord that matched the Zoom’s bayonette jack (on the chin at the left, between the XLR cables) and had a standard USB plug on the other. This of course only worked because the Zoom would accept 5v DC. One pair of Vogek folding headphones for me. Stand USB battery brick. I kept this all packed into a Pelican case much smaller than a shoebox.

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Open Podcast Directory — A proposal to globally enable auto-discovery of podcasts

tl;dr:

Meet the Open Podcast Directory (OPD).

  • create a DNS record for host “_opd” in your domain
  • record type TXT
  • record data is the URL of a podcast feed
  • multiple TXT records are permitted, to enable auto-discovery of multiple podcasts within a given domain

Why?

Content creators are currently dependent on directories. Apple’s iTunes directory is the de facto standard. We are already seeing a splintering of the podcast space…

Not all shows are podcasts, by John Gruber
The podcast monetization problem…, by Tanner Campbell

Each podcast’s content creator can use the existing DNS system to “publish” their show’s feed URL.

Later we can expand the directory by adding “opd:” XML namespace tags to standardize things like Seasons, etc without relying on existing directories’ namespace extensions.

$ dig txt _opd.moversmindset.com
; <<>> DiG 9.10.6 <<>> txt _opd.moversmindset.com
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 15816
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0
;; QUESTION SECTION:
;_opd.moversmindset.com. IN TXT
;; ANSWER SECTION:
_opd.moversmindset.com. 86101 IN TXT "https://moversmindset.com/feed/podcast"
;; Query time: 1 msec
;; SERVER: 10.0.1.1#53(10.0.1.1)
;; WHEN: Fri Apr 26 09:34:04 EDT 2019
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 91

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Deep dive about podcast feeds

This article got out of hand, and is 3,000 words.  I encourage you to skip around; There’s more discussion of specific tools and how-to material in the last third.

In the beginning

In the beginning, podcasts were simply audio files which people shared directly either by emailing them to each other, or by providing download links on their web sites.

RSS technology has been around for a while and provided a way for a web site to publish a “here’s what’s new” feed. It was soon realized that RSS could be used to provide a feed specifically of podcasts. Software able to retrieve and understand a podcast feed, could then automatically download the podcast files, and alert you of new episodes. Sharing a new show with friends then meant simply giving them the “feed URL” which one would “subscribe to” by adding it to your feed reader.

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Why storytelling is a big deal

https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2019/01/15/the-real-reason-why-storytelling-is-a-big-deal/

But forget business for a minute. Stores are much bigger than that, they’re central to our human existence. The way we shape reality is through storytelling. If we can tell a story about it, that means it exists. And this explains our species’ unique capacity for metaphor…for that is how we turn abstract ideas into stories.

~ Gaping Void

As I mentioned in the meta-interview of me for the Movers Mindset podcast, I love stories and story-telling. But helping others tell their stories is what I enjoy most about the interviews. Everyone is so incredibly different—yes, I too thought that was obvious before I started interviewing people. ;) Some people, I have nothing more to do then press the ‘record’ button. Some people, have something they need to say but it takes hours of conversation to figure that out before I can press ‘record’.

I’ll be candid: The podcast is incredibly painful to create. Until you’ve tried it—I urge you to never try it, by the way—you cannot understand how much time, effort, and money it takes to do it well … did I mention the time? Worse, the more I work on the craft of story-telling, interviewing, and the countless nuances of producing a show. Bottomless, hopeless, endless, thankless, merciless.

But then I randomly listen to an episode from the catalog, one from a while ago that I’ve sort of half-forgotten and I remember why it would be inconceivable to stop this early in the journey.

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A conversation with Mandy Lam

(Part 2 of 2 in The interviews from my perspective)

27 — Mandy Lam

rabbit. hat.

This conversation with Mandy was the first time I tried simply recording a long conversation [which we published with almost zero editing]. I had been talking to people on our team about trying this form of recording, but at some point, you just sort of have to jump in the pool.

I don’t remember where or when I first met Mandy. I don’t remember if someone said, “you should interview Mandy.” “Who?” “Mandy, over there— here, I’ll introduce you.” …or maybe we first met training. I really don’t recall. But I do recall that after a conversation we were like, yeah, let’s do an interview. At some point. Somewhere. Somewhen.

Then a few more conversations. Then a few stories at Gerlev, and then we were at the 3rd Évry Move event and we were like, we better make time for an interview…

Aside: I promised snapshots and stories… not coherency.

So after dinner one evening, Tracy, Mandy and I kicked our feet up in a hotel room overlooking the fountain in front of the Évry Cathedral.

…and talked for more than two hours trying to decide what to talk about in her interview. Two terrific hours of great conversation. We kept looking out from the 4th floor, with the big window swung open wide to the warm night, and thinking, “This is Évry. We’re just casually chatting about communities and life and everything… in the middle of Évry.”

…and the huge water fountain in the plaze sounding like a waterfall.

…and we really should press record soon.

“…ok, so, we’ve now been talking for 2-and-a-half hours. We should maybe press record soon. Maybe.”

Finally, I was like, “fuck it. ready?” and I hit record… and then we talked for another two hours. We recorded this sleep-drunk sort of rambling conversation, and the whole time I’m thinking, “omg this is going to be so bad. No one will ever want to listen to this.”

Weeks later, I finally listened to it.

There’s a team of people behind the podcast and they always want to know how each interview went. I bet you’ve heard the phrase, “like pulling a rabbit out of your hat,” used when—with a touch of panache—you manage something akin to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

rabbit. hat.

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