Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my!

Dorothy, the tin man and the scarecrowWhen Dorothy, the Tin Man and The Scarecrow went dancing down the yellow brick road and through the woods to Oz, she pondered the unknown mysteries out of sight in the woods. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

While we watch take some big leaps in growth this year we have some unknowns to ponder as well. Podcasts and blogs and videos. Oh, my. Will they come out of the woods and get us, or will we render them less scary? As of today, our web site boasts all three. The podcasts and videos (one each) are repurposed content; we haven't put our own together yet, but we will.

One of the things we can and should do this year to keep the lions and tigers and bears at bay is to develop policy on them. Policy? Remember that booklet we distributed at the beginning of the semester? It is a set of guidelines established by previous editorial boards of the Talon Marks to help provide of sense of continuity from one staff to another.

As we experiment with our podcasts and blogs and videos we need to write down what we learn. You can help by making suggestions as we go.

For instance, just this week an issue with blogs came up. Most staff members are using Blogger as the home for Talon Marks blogs., but one staffer wanted to create a blog elsewhere. In absence of editorial board developed policy, it was up to the editor to make a decision as to where we want to go with this. There are good arguments for keeping all blogs on the site with one template, but there are also good reasons for letting each reporter decide. This is something that should be codified in the policy. Here are some starting points for developing policy. Keep in mind, they are just thoughts, not rules yet.

PODCASTS: Our first podcast is a 58-minute radio program. It'll take dedicated readers to listen in that long. I suspect that two-minute to 10-minute podcasts are more likely to listened to from start to finish. And I think they probably need to provide content or a service that we don't alrey provide.

BLOGS: One reason to stick with one blog service is that we need to work on the code that will automatically pull headlines from the blogs and keep our front page up to date. Right now, Blogger is not the best host for that ability and College Publisher could better serve us with something like WordPress. But Blogger is where we started and CP will work to fix our problem. If we have multiple services, will we need multiple codes? Keep it simple. Also, we need to develop guidelines on whose blogs (current staff members, former other people?) will we feature on What kinds of topics? How closely should they follow our other content policies?

VIDEOS: Again, long videos won't be popular. Probably two minutes will be our standard. But what should videos contain? Just video from an event (a record) or should they be edited to create a self-contained story? Look at some interesting online videos that get lots of traffic at Rocketboom and Ze Frank's The Show. I also like the experiment by Los Medanos College's Curtis Corlew. And once we figure out length and content, we've got to figure out format. Quicktime, Real, Windows Media Player, Flash? College Publisher recommends Flash. But so far we don't have it or know how to use it. Oh, my!

And while Dorothy at first lamented just three dangers, there also were the flying monkeys out there. Our flying monkeys will be learning how to do photos for web, both single photos and photo slideshows. And Dorothy at first found the Great and Wonderful Wizard of Oz to be frightening, but he ended up being the best surprise. For us, that means multimedia storytelling that perhaps incorporates all of the above and more.

And all the while we have to remember that just like Dorothy, our real goal is to get home, not get lost in Oz.

(For a look at even more wonders ahead, listen to the hour-long podcast from Reinventing College Media.)


At 10:23 AM, Blogger KaRi from TPSradio said...

Hi there, I came across this site while googling "" and "podcast" since I am "into" both! (ThePrimeSpot Radio Show airs Monday mornings 9-11am+ on Cerritos College's

I'd LOVE for you to stop in and give a podcast report!

Long Beach, SoCaLifornia


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