NPR’s Weekend Edition is Mis-Using Twitter to Spam Me!

I like many NPR programs.  And this post about Weekend Edition’s mis-use of Twitter is just a way of pointing out a flaw in how one organisation is using Twitter so that we, and hopefully they (are you listening?), can learn from their mistakes.

  1. I clicked to “Follow” Weekend Edition.
  2. I got a weird impersonal messages sent “to me” via an “@ Reply” about how they’re getting the next episode of their show ready etc.  (why would they send that to me?  Smells like a strategy: “When someone starts to ‘follow’ us, respond to them with the latest tweet…” …a lot like automated thanks-for-the-add comments on MySpace, right?)
  3. I responded suggesting they aren’t really using Twitter correctly.  
  4. I gave it a day thinking I’d get a little response from their Team… Nope.  (What’s even worse than misinterpreting a medium, is not paying attention when people try to help.  Hello?)

Why would I want to be getting “personal,” direct messages from a media brand that wont respond to my own “personal” messages, when all of this is taking place via a platform in which I‘m already subscribing to a stream of anything that brand wants to say???  


Wikipedia Random Article Podcast?

I just had an idea.

We could get a few people together to take turns reading and recording interesting articles from the Wikipedia and release the audio as a weekly podcast.

A sort of audio-book version of the wikipedia.  Maybe it could be five or ten articles at a time, that way it could be a one-hour program.  Maybe they’d be related in some way.  

This is just a midnight harebrained scheme, so if it’s a stupid idea, I don’t really care.  Seems like a natural progression to me though, at least at 5am it does.

I think it would only work if it was for a general audience.  Let’s say we focus it on the public radio audience, so the topics are all things that your average consumer of liberal information would enjoy.

The entry on the Electoral College might be a good example.  It could be coupled with others loosely about Democracy and the founding of the USA, for example.

Maybe instead of putting multiple readings together topically, it could be a reading of one article followed by a discussion by some invited experts via skype etc?  

This would also be a good place for new VO talent to cut their teeth and get out there and build some resume material.

I’m not interested in doing VO myself, but I’d be willing to commit to one article per month. 



Maybe Wikipedia articles are just too crude to read in an enjoyable way.

Maybe we need to re-write them for audio?  All just random late-night ideas.

Intellectual Property Colloquium Podcast: Suggestions

This is a message to the guys behind the IP Colloquium Podcast, an Audio Podcast about Intellectual Property Law, hosted by Doug Lichtman, Scholar in Residence at the UCLA School of Law, and brought to us by the UCLA School of Law, the law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP and the Intellectual Property Symposium. I hope you guys have your ears on!  If you’re an attorney, the IP Colloquium Podcast can be used as CLE Credit.

First of all, Thanks for the IP Colloquium Podcast.  This is great stuff so far.

I wanted to point out a few things about your WebSite that are annoying for ‘Power-Users’ like me and/or that are standing in your own way.

  1. Flash is not the way to go.  Flash Websites are less accessible than sites that display HTML. There are many reasons why.  Here are a few:
    • Navigation-Buttons or Links within Flash sites don’t allow right-click functions such as “Open Link In A New Window/Tab,” which people who use the Web well use often.
    • Flash Content is Less Machine-Readable (for instance, by robots like Search Crawlers), Less Universally Semantic, Less Friendly to Alternate Viewing (Like Text-Only Browsing or Viewing of the Page-Source).  The reason is that the content is hidden within the Flash animation objects.  Essentially, Flash sites are about as Machine-Readable as pictures of text are, probably less.  You want to be found in Search Results, right?
    • Flash sites require an extra browser plugin which is sometimes a barrier for people on alternate systems or that aren’t very technically savvy.  Barriers aren’t a good thing.
    • The Text within your site cannot be copied from the browser window, making it harder for people to quote you etc.  I had to actually look at Doug Lichtman’s name etc to post this entry.  Sure hinders my abilty to blog about you guys.
    • Since your site is Flash, updating it is surely more complicated than it would be if you were using some sort of Content Management System (CMS), like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc. This is also true for making minor ‘look-n-feel’ changes. When your design elements are separate from your content, you have a lot more flexibility if you decide you don’t like some font or color etc.  Again, HTML and CSS based sites are superior for this reason.
  2. You do not have an RSS/Atom Link in your Site’s HTML Head.  This is easy to do and is what is expected of modern sites that are content sources. All you need to do is put the following line in the top of your HTML: <link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” href=”” /> …This is what makes the little RSS icon/indicator show up in the URL field in FireFox/Safari/Etc, which is expected from sites that are Syndicating content via the web (like you are). 
  3. Your Feed is not set up properly for “Enclosures” which is what makes Podcasting tick.  Perhaps the iTunes Subscribe link you give out is being processed by FeedBurner or something, but I can’t tell because the site is Flash so I can’t “Copy Link…”  …Really, if you moved to WordPress, you could use any number of podcasting plugins that will take care of all the dirty work of making your feed Standards-Compliant, iTunes-Ready and user-friendly.  If you don’t want to go down that road, you should at least consider running your feed through FeedBurner and then linking to that feed rather than the “/rssfeed.xml” one.  This way, the Audio files show up in your feed properly as ‘enclosures,’ and your feed will work in all feed-readers and ‘pod-catchers.’  
  4. It’s also mildly annoying to have links on your site automatically open new windows.  It’s just one of those things that gets on people’s nerves.  If we want a new window or tab, we’ll open one.

I really think you guys should consider a quick re-build using a more standards-compliant Content Management System (CMS), like my favorite, WordPress (which is free and great for podcasting).  This really only takes about an hour or two to do and requires no special skills.  It’s especially easy for a site like yours that has such a minor burden of content migration.  Joomla and Drupal are also free, but for the IPC-Cast, I recommend WordPress.  There is also a handful of other powerful open-source CMS solutions out there that I haven’t mentioned.  Bottom line, you don’t need to spend money on software.

Anyway, I’m just trying to help.  Keep up the great work!  The Podcast is great.

Obama Administration Should Recruit Lawrence Lessig

I left a comment for the Obama Administration via their new online “suggestion box“at  I sent in a suggestion hoping that the Obama Administration look at Lawrence Lessig as someone who could help out in some way.  I didn’t say “Attorney General” but maybe I should have.  Here’s what I did say:

Lawrence Lessig should be looked at by the new administration for positions like ‘Technology Czar,’ ‘Federal CTO,’ ‘Chairman/Commissioner of the FCC,’ or any other position in which Ethics and the Public Interest in matters of Technology and/or Communications are concerned.

Professor Lessig has already proven himself as an advocate for the people as an Educator, an Attorney, an Author and an Activist.

I’m sure there are many, many others like me who believe that the Obama administration, and more importantly, the American People would benefit from having Lawrence Lessig’s sound judgement and clear voice involved in the Federal decision-making processes.

He’s one of my personal heroes, and he cares about America, its consumer’s, their rights, the possibilities of modern technology, and the importance of our culture as it evolves and we grow with it.

Thanks for having this open suggestion box.