Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring, Michele Alperin, and Karen
Hodges Miller were prepared for the January 4, 2006 issue of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Business Survival 2006: The Internet — For Fun, But Also
Everyone is on the Internet at work – maybe conducting research, or
E-mailing clients, but also shopping, watching movie trailers and live
ball games, and reading the newspaper, and looking for dates. Workers
are finding new ways to use the Internet every day, sometimes for
personal reasons, sometimes for fun – and occasionally even for work.
Now employers are finding new ways to use the Internet as well, not as
a time waster, but rather as a revenue booster. Doctors and lawyers
are turning to blogs, which are basically online journals in the form
of a running commentary with links to further information, as a way to
gain exposure, find new patients or clients, and build a reputation –
all at a tiny fraction of the cost of putting out a newsletter.
Marketing firms are offering to put together daily blogs for clients
who don’t have the time to use this medium themselves, but who are
finding alternatives such as custom magazines prohibitively expensive
and not very effective.
Video casting, long promoted as a way to cut business travel by
substituting desktop meetings for trips to far-flung branch offices
and clients’ locations, appears to be ready for prime time thanks to
new software and increasing adoption of high-bandwidth Internet
connections. Once so jerky and fuzzy that it was more an annoyance
than a business tool, the technology combines audio and video to
create a virtual meeting may finally be here.
At the same time, "vlogging" is showing early promise as a whole new
advertiser-supported medium, and also a way for artists and other
professionals to build a following. Similar to blogging, vlogging adds
a moving image to a message. Individuals can create and edit vlogs on
their own, or they can turn to new companies, including one just
launching in the Princeton area, to handle everything from editing to
hosting – all at no cost.
Meanwhile, podcasting, vlogging’s audio counterpart, is being used to
build business, cement client relationships, and pull in advertising
revenue. A podcast can be anything from a movie review to a sermon to
commentary on a recent Supreme Court ruling. It can be a few minutes
long or can stretch to hours. The medium was given a big boost in July
when Apple launched a free podcasting directory. Anyone can post on
it, and anyone can access all of the material at no cost on a one-time
basis or can subscribe to a particular podcast and receive each new
installment by E-mail. Area organizations ranging from law firms to
churches are already podcasting.
All of these Internet off-shoots are in their infancy, prompting
adventurous entrepreneurs and established companies alike to find ways
to turn them into profitable ventures. But while vlogging, blogging,
and podcasting will become businesses for some, they are surprisingly
inexpensive, easy-to-use tools ready for any business to use.
So young are these technologies that their names are only now starting
to spread the way that "E-mail" did just over a decade ago, back in
the days before Amazon and Ebay, when the word "spam" conjured up only
an image of unappetizing canned meat. Already, though, the name of one
of these new technologies has become the "word of the year" in the New
When Richard DeLuca became director of business development at the law
firm of Stark & Stark on Lenox Drive in May, 2004, he brought a
question with him. "How am I going to market better?" he recalls
thinking. He soon had a one-word answer: blogging. The online
discussions of legal issues and news would be helpful, he reasoned,
because "more and more clients are using the `Net to search for legal
information." With a blog, it is easy to put out this information on a
DeLuca, a Rutgers graduate (Class of 1998), was emboldened to suggest
the concept a good year before most people had even heard of it, he
says, because "Stark & Stark understands technological changes." Still
he met with a lot of "what’s that? what’s that?" reactions. Now, less
than 18 months after the firm’s first blogs appeared online, he has
attorneys waiting their turns to post blogs – and to turn them into
Stark & Stark is one of only two New Jersey firms that are blogging –
Lowenstein Sandler is the other. "I’m surprised more aren’t doing
this," says DeLuca. His explanation is that "change is at glacial
speed for law firms."
The upside of blogging for Stark & Stark has been huge. "We’ve had
about 55,000 visits," says DeLuca, "and many are repeat visits." The
firm is finding that many of its blog readers are returning five, six,
seven, or eight times. Many attorneys in the firm, all of whom sign
their blogs, have gained clients as a direct result of the blogs.
Blogging attorneys have also been contacted by newspapers for
interviews on their areas of expertise. "We’ve had eight media
placements as a result of reporters reading the blogs," he says.
Beyond the added exposure, one of DeLuca’s figures in support of blogs
is bound to strike a chord with business of all kinds.
"We had E-newsletters before we had blogs," he says. "The annual cost
of blogs is one-tenth the cost of the newsletters." The firm, he adds,
no longer publishes the newsletters.
Between 30 and 40 of Stark & Stark’s attorneys blog regularly. The
firm’s first blog was on traumatic brain injury. It was written by
Bruce Stern, a specialist in that area of law. Following the standard
format for this new medium, Stern’s posts are short – just a paragraph
or two – and point the reader toward more information.
A recent post about protective soccer head gear, for example, links to
a letter from the president of a local Pee-Wee soccer association
writing on the subject. It is part of an ongoing discussion on the
blog about possible changes to soccer safety regulations. Other topics
on the blog include news of a new acute care facility in California,
new motorcycle helmet regulations in Ohio, and medical advances in the
treatment of head injuries. Everything is succinct, topical, and of
interest to those who have suffered brain injury or who litigate on
Stern’s is a standalone blog. The firm’s other blogs are aggregated
under the heading "Law Blog" (www.njlawblog.com). The main page of the
blog mixes areas of practice, but links to postings in 15 legal
specialties march down the left-hand side of the page. Someone
interested only in one area, perhaps environmental, real estate, or
employment law, can go directly to the blog for that specialty.
As is common with all blogs, the Stark & Stark blogs contain lists of
links to other Internet sites that would probably be of interest to
readers. They also allow for questions and comments and give the law
firm the ability to filter out any irrelevant or obnoxious postings,
functions that are also near-universal in blogs. Unlike many less
sophisticated blogs, those posted by Stark & Stark have a search
function. It is more common for blogs to just archive past posts,
sometimes by topic, sometimes not.
From a marketing standpoint, a big plus for blogs is that they make it
easy for anyone to get them by subscription. Just click on a link, and
each new blog is delivered to an E-mail inbox. This makes blogs vastly
preferable to E-newsletters, says DeLuca, because they are, by nature,
opt-in. No one who doesn’t specifically ask for the blogs will get
them. Superior psychologically to E-newsletters, which are often seen
as spam, they are also superior technologically, he says, because they
zip right through any spam filters totally unmolested.
Another upside to blogs is that they make it easy to measure results.
Counters on blog websites compute number of visitors and even track
where they come from. Are they clicking over from another site, from a
search engine, or maybe from a newspaper site? The counter knows. Are
they coming back again and again? The counter knows that too. New
business is also easy to track. Blog visitors may start up a
relationship with an attorney right in the blog by, for example,
asking questions. There is a link to each attorney’s bio and contact
information right on the blog, making it easy for potential clients –
or reporters in search of a source – to get in touch by phone too.
Members of his firm who blog spend about one to one-and-a-half hours a
week on updates, says DeLuca. He conducted training sessions soon
after he introduced the new communication tool, but says that it is
incredibly easy to master blogging. How hard is it? "It’s like writing
an E-mail," he says.
Last summer DeLuca added a new wrinkle to the blogs by turning some of
them into podcasts, which, basically, are just audio versions of the
blogs. Through an incredible coincidence, Stark & Stark’s podcasts
went live on July 1, the very day that I-music giant Apple also became
the world’s I-audio giant by unveiling a vast catalog of free podcast
downloads on its iTunes website. As one of only a handful of legal
podcasters, Stark & Stark comes up right away on an iTunes search. It
has posted 19 podcasts to iTunes (a totally free service for both
posters and listeners) and they have already been downloaded more than
Like all podcasts posted on iTunes, the Stark & Stark legal updates
can either be listened to on the website (www.apple.com/itunes) or can
be downloaded to an iPod MP3 player.
DeLuca says that the results for his new media initiatives "blow away"
the numbers for E-newsletters, which were, after all, new media
themselves way back in the beginning of the 21st century. He also
shares his favorite E-marketing websites – both of which, probably not
coincidentally, are blogs. They are Digg (www.digg.com), which is all
about new media, and Micro Persuasion (www.micropersuasion.com), the
blog of PR superstar Steve Rubel, who, in early-December posted a note
on the New Oxford Dictionary’s decision to crown "podcast" as its 2005
word of the year.
— Kathleen McGinn Spring
Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building Two, Lawrenceville 08648.
John A. Sakson, Lewis J. Pepperman, co-managing partners.
609-896-9060; fax, 609-896-0629. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Home
Generating less buzz than the niftily named blogs, vlogs, and podcasts
are next generation software products. With Microsoft’s recent
introduction of its Live family of products, it appears that software
too is setting up shop on the Internet, rather than in shrink-wrapped
packages on store shelves.
David Spivak is the founder of Hightstown-based Design Solutions, a
company with a specialty in building functionality into websites. He
says that there are a number of new ways that employers can make their
offices’ Internet terminals, which are already enriching employee’s
work days, enrich their companies as well.
"A creative mind can think of tons of uses for the Internet," he says.
"Some of them are obvious, some not so obvious." Spivak founded his
company in "the mid-1980s, just before the computer revolution." He
received his degree in art from Parsons School of Design, and says he
is glad that he learned his craft before the computer age. "I’m
grounded in the basics," he explains. When computers and the Internet
came along, he was ready to learn something new and adapt it to his
business, which has five full-time employees and two part-time
There are countless other ways to use the Internet, he says. Some are
already common in larger company, while others are brand new. Here are
some tasks that can now be handled over the Internet. Most are not as
much fun as looking at the dating possibilities offered by Match.com,
tracking bids on eBay auctions, or finding hot bargains on
Overstock.com, but all can keep employees busy boosting the company’s
Job tracking. This is an Internet application that Spivak himself uses
every day in his own business. Job tracking, he explains, allows his
employees to log onto a website and chart his progress on a task, and
see what he should be doing next. "When someone finishes a project, he
can log on and see what the next scheduled project is," says Spivak.
The site includes the date the job needs to be completed and the type
of work that needs to be done. Employees can see which jobs most suit
their talents or can jump onboard to help colleagues finish up a
project that is nearing deadline.
Often several employees are working simultaneously on different parts
of the same job. For example, he says, his company recently finished
work on a game project. Every portion of the project needed to be
coordinated, and job tracking allowed different staff members to
easily work on different portions of the job, such as packaging
designs, gameboard, or card designs.
While job tracking has not totally eliminated the need for staff
meetings, Spivak says it has freed him to work on other areas of his
business. "I’m the sales arm of the company," he says. "With job
tracking it is much easier for the office to function without me being
right there all the time."
Not only can employees log onto the job tracking site, but Spivak’s
clients can also receive a password that allows them to look at their
own job and see its progress.
Medical records. Spivak suggests that doctors can use the Internet in
several ways, including putting medical records on the `Net (password
protected, of course), where they can easily be sent to a referring
physician for a second opinion. X-rays, MRIs, or CAT scans could also
be put on a website so that several consulting physicians could look
at them – all at the same time – from different locations.
Online tech support. The Internet is a great way to offer technical
assistance to customers, says Spivak, who suggests that "little movies
showing how to install or repair something are a great way to help
Sales support. The Internet is ideal for "cross selling," says Spivak.
Companies can easily track what types of items a customer purchases,
then make special offers or coupons that are personalized for the
Custom tailored buying incentives. Spivak mentions a Manhattan-based
florist who wanted to offer delivery service nationwide. "He was able
to limit the range of choices the client could make by zip code," he
says. Clients in nearby zip codes could order from the entire range of
offerings. Clients who lived farther from the store’s base had fewer
In addition, the florist could offer discounts based on zip codes as a
way of attracting sales within a easy delivery area. The customer
could type in a special code and get the discount.
Interactive calendars. Many companies are now using interactive
calendars to help their employees track meetings and deadlines, he
says. The calendar can be downloaded to a PDA so that the employee can
receive updates or change his schedule even when he is away from the
Meeting software. New software allows people to work on documents
simultaneously in different locations. With the use of webcams and the
software, the Internet becomes a global conference room.
The Internet’s interactive abilities have already changed the way we
do business. In the coming decade, Spivak predicts, the pace of change
will only accelerate.
– Karen Hodges Miller
Design Solutions, 114 Rogers Avenue, Hightstown 08520. David Spivak,
president. 609-443-3100; fax, 609-443-5540. E-mail: email@example.com
`There was a lot of buzz about video casting in 2000," says Simon
Tidnam, "but not a lot of broadband was deployed." Now, thanks to the
feverish efforts of cable and telephone companies, bandwidth is way up
– both in the office and at home. Taking advantage of faster, more
commodious Internet pipes is start-up Clique Communications. Tidnam is
the director of marketing for the 50-person vlogging company, which
recently settled into offices at 205 Rockingham Row in Princeton
Clique is going after both the consumer and the corporate business in
a two-pronged attack that currently features tests of its video
casting software at telecom companies and the deployment of a Hummer
with a "giant" built-in plasma screen to spread the good news about
vlogging to college students and up-and-coming Indie bands.
Clique is wholly-owned by Innovativ Systems (www.inovsys.com), a
20-year-old Edison-based private company that designs, procures,
assembles, tests, and configures custom computer systems for
businesses. Ever since the Internet passed from fad to business tool
clients had been asking for video casting, says Tidnam. There was a
lot of hype, but the face-to-face virtual meetings never got off the
ground. Still, Innovativ wanted to prepare for the day when the
bandwidth to make video casting clear and easy was in place.
Toward that end, relates Tidnam, Innovativ acquired Legato Video and
Netgen Video. "They had a lot of Sarnoff people," he says. The two
tech-heavy companies had an "excellent" portfolio of patents and
valuable client lists. Their staffs formed the nucleus of Clique,
leaving the company, says Tidnam, with the task of "going from code to
products." Clique, which moved into and began re-fitting its offices
in May, and began a beta launch of some of its products in
mid-December, has now added sales and marketing staff. The company is
headed by Jim Spinella, who came over from Innovativ.
Tidnam, a graduate of the University of Edinburg, recently joined
Clique. He was previously with Wavexpress. While he holds a master’s
degree in literature, he says that he was "drawn to the technology
business." He met his wife, Hannah Winarsky, a graduate of Vassar,
while she was taking her junior year in Scotland. She is the art and
literature editor at Princeton University Press. The couple lives in
The company for which Tidnam is busy devising a marketing strategy has
a split personality – alternating between button-down and
wild-and-crazy. Its corporate website
(www.inovsys.com/solutions/cliquevm.htm) features clip art of intense
business types tapping on Palm Pilots, studying reports, and having
earnest conversations. It talks about how "businesses of every kind
are leveraging video conferencing and collaboration systems to improve
productivity, reduce costs, and enable more effective communication.
It’s recently become clear that an efficient video communication
system is no longer a luxury – it’s a critical component to any
successful business plan."
Click over to one of Clique’s consumer websites.
Vlogcrazy (www.vlogcrazy.com) urges us – one and all – to "watch new
friends, tell your story, become a star." The graphics are high
energy, the message is: "Ever wanted your own TV show? Here’s your
"Talented?" the website asks. "Want to be the next Jon Stewart or Bill
O’Reilly? How about the next Paris Hilton or Tara Reid? Here’s the
chance to show the world what you can do."
Clique has separate business models for its corporate and consumer
products. On the corporate side, Tidnam says, the company is planning
to license software to telecoms and cable companies. The software, he
explains, is designed to create the best possible videocast quality by
checking network conditions on each side at the time of the video call
and adjusting accordingly. The software also takes different
bandwidths into consideration. In the past, he says, the poor quality
that caused so many people to abandon video conferences was a result
of one person’s computer operating at a significantly higher level
than the other’s.
The stronger network connection overpowered the weaker, or the weaker
dragged down the stronger. The result was a fuzzy picture and tinny
sound. Clique’s software, now in tests at telecom companies, is
designed to detect the strength of each signal and to connect all the
video conference parties with the optimum picture and sound their
disparate connections allow at any given moment.
Clique’s software will work with any PC as well as with video enabled
phones. Who will sell the video handsets? "Not us," says Tidnam.
Motorola is now making some – at a price of $700 to $800. This is
pricey, even for the corporate market, he admits, saying that video
handsets are still "at an early stage."
So really, despite any number of false starts, is videocasting.
Promoted as the future for what feels like decades, it has never
caught on. "It is awkward the first couple of times," Tidnam admits.
But, he insists, it soon becomes natural to look at the person to whom
you are speaking via computer or phone. It fosters better
communication around the office, and makes collaboration between
offices or with clients more effective. And, of course, an ease with
video meetings – conducted with a minimum of hissing and fade-outs –
could hold the promise of less business travel.
Back on the consumer side, Clique is planning an ad-supported model
for its Vlogcrazy website. But it’s still way too early to go after
advertisers, says Tidnam. The plan is to first encourage garage bands
to go online with short clips of their songs, to talk about their
music, communicate with fans, and promote their upcoming appearances.
Once a base of bands is onboard, perhaps in six months, Clique will
look for advertisers. Established bands pitching new albums would be a
natural fit, he says. A visitor to the website could look at a few
vlog entries and then would see an video ad (a vad?).
The Vlogcrazy site is free for all users. It is as easy to use as a
blog, its print cousin, says Tidnam. (Blogs, by the way, are now so
easy to use that any adult can put one up in under 10 minutes, even
without the help of a grandchild.)
Vlogcrazy users record a segment, preview it, and then push a button
to publish it to the web. Vlogcrazy provides the editing tools and
hosts the vlogs. Everyone who creates an ongoing vlog will have a vlog
address, perhaps www.MyCoolBand.vlogcrazy.com., just the way that
bloggers using the popular Blogger service (www.blogger.com), which is
owned by Google, have a blogger address – maybe
MyCoolBand.blogspot.com. Fans can bookmark the sites and check
in for updates.
"It gives all of those people with videocams somewhere to go," says
Tidnam. For anyone who has misplaced or broken the videocam he got for
Christmas four years ago, when the little devices were last hot,
Clique is selling a nifty goose-neck videocam of its own design on its
website for $39.95. The slinky cam is designed to clip onto a flat
screen, attach to a laptop, or sit on a desk. Clique holds the patent
on the webcam and has just signed a distribution agreement with
Toshiba. In the works, says Tidnam, is a high definition (HD) webcam.
It will sell for substantially more, perhaps something in the range of
$130, but, he says, "the pictures are crystal clear."
Bands seem to be a natural vlog target, says Tidnam, especially
because an obvious advertiser base exists. The company also has some
interest in going after the Internet dating market in light of the
wild popularity of sites like Myspace.com. "But we’re not quite sure
how to do it yet," he says.
Meanwhile, the Clique Hummer is going to start making the rounds of
colleges, calling on another natural target demographic, in
early-January. "Stanford has expressed strong interest," says Tidnam,
who plans to ship the Hummer to the West Coast early in the new year.
"It’s cheap marketing," he says of the over-sized vehicle with the
plasma screen. It’s also a splashy first step for a new company built
around the bet that vlogging will become as popular as blogging, and
that the time for office video conferences has finally arrived.
– Kathleen McGinn Spring
Clique Communications, 205 Rockingham Row, Princeton 08540. Jim
Spinella, president; Simon Tidnam, marketing director. 609-466-1444;
fax, 609-466-9724. Home page: www.cliquecom.com
Let’s say you wake up on a Sunday morning to find two feet of snow on
the ground. Or maybe the day is fair, but you are feeling foul. If you
are a congregant at Nassau Presbyterian church in Princeton, you can
remain safely indoors without missing a word. This is so because the
church has just started podcasting its sermons. Anyone can go to
Apple’s iTunes website, at www.apple.com/itunes, and either listen to
the sermon right there – starting on the Monday after it is delivered
– or download it to an iPod MP3 player. It is also possible to access
the sermons, along with all manner of church news, via RSS, Really
Simple Syndication. The church, now celebrating the 250th anniversary
of Presbyterian presence in Princeton, offers an excellent RSS
tutorial on its website, www.nassauchurch.org.
Rick Seaholm, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts (Class of
1999) and an administrative assistant at the church, is the person to
thank for this totally free service. "When podcasts first became
popular, I started to look at requirements to get one off the ground,"
he says. "Over the summer I fiddled around, looked at other websites
to see how others were using podcasts." He has found that about 70 New
Jersey churches are now putting sermons in the new medium.
The leap to podcasts was not too much of a jump for Nassau
Presbyterian. The church has a sound room for recording and has been
streaming sermons to its website (www.nassauchurch.org) for nearly two
years. A sound room is not necessary. The only equipment a podcaster
needs is a computer and a microphone, but the sound room does provide
for good sound quality.
"The nice thing about a podcast," says Seaholm, "is that users can
subscribe, so it goes to them automatically." Subscriptions are going
up each week, and, he says, "many people have written and said it’s a
great idea." Sermon podcast fans include not only the homebound, but
also Princeton-area students attending out-of-state colleges and
traveling parishioners. Interestingly, the podcasts are not only
drawing people with an attachment to Seaholm’s church. Comments on the
podcasted sermons, still in their infancy, have come from as far away
Okay, but what is the danger that a less than zealous minister from a
distant state will appropriate the sermons? "We put a copyright on
them," says Seaholm. Still, he wouldn’t be shocked at any instances of
sermon podcast piracy. Sermons are already out on the `Net in written
form, and, he says, "we know of instances of people who steal them.
It’s something they have to live with."
Shrugging off potential piracy, Seaholm says that podcasting is "one
of the more exciting things I’ve seen this year. Now everyone can have
– Kathleen McGinn Spring
Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542.
Clarence Ammons, interim pastor. 609-924-0103; fax, 609-683-1975.
Here’s another new word, that you may think you know, but you actually
may not: "podcast." I thought I knew because I knew about iPods, those
little rectangular boxes connected via earphones to nearly every kid I
pass, and many adults, too. I assumed they were simply updated CD
players – with lots of storage – for listening to musical favorites.
Now I find out from Donna Liu, executive director of the University
Channel at Princeton University, that the listening possibilities are
decidedly not limited to music, but include podcasts. Popular podcasts
include everything from movie reviews to mainstream magazine cover
stories to university lectures.
Liu has been developing this podcasting venture
(uc.princeton.edu/main/) with the support of the Woodrow Wilson
School. This venture collects non-classroom academic lectures from
Princeton and other universities worldwide and distributes them both
to individuals and to conventional television outlets over the
Internet, via podcasts. The lecture collection will eventually grow
into a searchable, global, online library of videocasts.
Slate’s Andy Bowers picked the University Channel as his Pod Pick of
the Week on November 11 and Campus Technology’s December 1 issue
selected its vodcasting (essentially video podcasting) lectures as
among the top 100 "best practices the year."
Right after I spoke to Liu, I started hearing about podcasts
everywhere – during my next interview, while listening to "Science
Friday" on public radio, and when perusing the New York Times website.
Although the terminology of this new technology sounds esoteric, the
concept is fairly simple. Podcasts are files containing digital audio
that are available for listening "on demand" – you can download them
at your own convenience from wherever they are posted on the Internet.
Then you can listen to them on your computer, or burn them to a CD for
listening in the car, or download them to your MP3/audio player for
The University Channel was Liu’s idea. When she arrived at Princeton
University in 2002 as a Ferris Professor (a two-year teaching
fellowship for mid-career journalists), she was on leave from an
18-year career at CNN, and had substantial production experience. At
Princeton Liu says she was "struck by the tremendous lectures
available all over campus," and as a TV producer, she thought,
"Wouldn’t it be great if more people could see these?"
Liu decided to do a little calling around. Many universities had been
filming or audiotaping lectures for archival purposes, but often they
did not have effective means for sharing the wealth. Liu’s vision
would solve that problem. "Distribution takes only one person to
develop," she says, "and many universities will be able to take
advantage of it."
The dean of the Woodrow Wilson School enthusiastically supported her
idea. "He gave me the chance to prove the concept and build
membership," she says, and the entire university supported its
development. "What made it possible was teamwork." The Office of
Information Technology helped with webpod issues, for example, and the
Educational Technologies Center designed the website and has helped
with network and video issues.
The University Channel is still in start-up mode as it builds its
administrative structure. It went public in July with a beta version
of the website. Liu says the channel is close to reaching the five
charter members who will serve as a steering committee. So far the
committee includes Princeton, Columbia, Middlebury, the University of
Texas, and one member yet to be announced. Although actual membership
is still small, Liu says that a couple of dozen institutions have
Members are welcome to use the channel’s material for programming on
their television and radio stations and can be distributors
themselves. Other forms of distribution take the material beyond
campus walls. "The point is to create a public service," says Liu, "to
make the intellectual expertise available on university campuses
available to the public."
The channel’s initial focus is public and international affairs. "We
are specifically looking for the kinds of discussions that are aimed
at solving the world’s problems – war, poverty, hunger, and disease,"
Some samples now accessible on the site include: "American Media:
Still the Fourth Estate?" by Bill Keller; "The Outlook for the Global
Economy," by Robert Rubin; "A Conversation with Bill Gates";
"Democratizing Innovation" by Eric von Hippel; and a podcasting
symposium from Duke University.
Liu estimates the rate of downloads since University Channel podcasts
appeared in the iTunes music store (www.apple.com/itunes) as a couple
of lectures a minute, on average. Apple’s iTunes includes a vast
number of podcasts, which are easy to search. The channel doesn’t yet
have software to read statistics by number of downloads, but does have
a measure of demand on its bandwidth.
Liu says many universities are experimenting with podcasting. Stanford
launched an effort through the iTunes music store. Duke University
last year issued an iPod to every incoming freshman as an experiment.
"The iPod is really a portable hard drive," says Liu, "and they wanted
to see how many ways the kids could use it." Purdue has been using
podcasting internally so that students can review lectures they
missed, although Liu says that some faculty members have resisted this
application for fear students will stop coming to their classes
The next step, which adds video, is the vodcast, which Liu says is
more difficult to implement because of bandwidth issues. Princeton
Channel uses vodcasting sparingly – only with lectures that are
especially well produced – not the usual single-camera recordings of
Before she arrived in Princeton for a temporary stay that has now
become permanent, Liu spent seven years with CNN International setting
up a production facility in Hong Kong to create programs about Asia,
featuring Asian people. Liu had started in CNN as a news producer back
when CNN was all in one newsroom. "In the early days, you still had to
explain who you were when calling on a story," she remembers. She grew
with CNN, as a producer and manager, with opportunities to develop
with the company as it became a major media outlet. The American-born
Liu had studied Chinese at the University of Rochester and then
started her career as a freelance reporter in Asia for CBS, Newsweek,
and AP. "Hong Kong was one of those places that had great promise, a
real hub of Asia," she says. "If you were interested in news in Asia,
you would have lots of opportunities."
So where will the University Channel go from here? One goal as it
expands its staff will be to hire an archivist, because eventually the
channel will host an archive and perhaps also an index to other
people’s archives. Funding will be combination of membership dues,
foundation grants, and corporate sponsorships.
Liu is now getting some nibbles from people overseas who are
interested in participating, from places like the National University
of Singapore and some Canadian universities. "In five years, we would
like to be a global service," says Liu. "There are no geographical
limitations to this kind of media distribution, and particularly in
terms of the discussion of international affairs, it is imperative to
go global. There are no language restrictions. It’s just question of
time and effort."
– Michele Alperin
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