A conversation with Dave Winer

I was honored to be interviewed by Dave Winer today in a 20 minute podcast about the service FriendFeed and other RSS applications. Winer helped birth a wide range of technologies like RSS, podcasting and OPML (bundles of RSS feeds that you import and export from feed readers). He’s a tech hero and I don’t know what my life would be like without his work.

Read on for a Flash audio player and links that we discussed.
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The Awesome Potential of the Semantic Web

I just listened to the most amazing podcast about the future of the web and semantic analysis. It was an interview with BYU Phd student Yihong Ding, a researcher in what my ReadWriteWeb co-author Alex Iskold calls “the top-down semantic web.” The first 15 minutes of the hour long show are about Yihong Ding’s personal background, the next 15 about his research and the last 30 about his very compelling view of the future.

This interview shows just how much untapped potential remains in the world of web applications. Once our software is capable of deriving meaning from web pages it looks at for us, there’s a whole lot of work that will already be done, allowing our human, creative minds to reach new heights.

Download MP3 [50 mins, 23Mb]

Ding’s research combines the application of a manually supplied ontology (set of terms with connections for meaning), automated analysis of the structure of a web page (what’s in h2 tags? that’s probably a section title) and learned meaning after repeated application of the above and correction by the user. It’s fascinating and a prototype should be available in the first half of next year. I hope to get an early look at it so I can write about it on ReadWriteWeb just before public launch.

The vision of the future described in the interview is beautiful. It’s one of the most clear explanations of the semantic web and what some people call web 3.0 that I’ve heard yet. I’m just starting to dive deep into this, so forgive any excess enthusiasm, but I’m telling you – it’s good stuff.

Ding’s vision of a future web not of sites and pages but of “educated agents of meaning” (smart software applications is what I’m seeing), driven by human beings to serve our needs, is a really interesting one.

His conclusion makes me think of Google Custom Search, Lijit (which I must spend some time with) and I don’t know what else. It’s got me on fire, though.

I found the interview through a path you might find of interest. It was highlighted in the blog of Talis, a vendor in the semantic space, in their This Weeks Semantic Web round up. It’s a very rich resource, not to mention a great marketing asset for the company. I found that via the blog of semantic web rock star Danny Ayers. I was reminded of Ayers’ blog and have picked it back up with a renewed interest after seeing it in a list of 60+ Semantic Web Blogs at Semantic Focus, a fascinating looking group blog where, co-incidentally interview subject Yihong Ding is a regular contributor. So we come full circle and have found a whole lot of valuable resources along the way.

The best investigative journalism in video on the web and how it pays its bills

Cross-posted from the SplashCast blog because I thought it would be of interest to readers here as well.

One of the promises of the internet is to democratize access to both information and publishing. That democratization, in theory, makes voices outside of the halls of power more capable of changing the world than they would be otherwise. The jury is still out as to how real all of that is. There are lots of people and organizations giving it a try. Good deeds alone rarely pay the rent, though, and a relatively small number of people online want to watch often-depressing investigative journalism when there’s so much fun to be had in other media sectors.

Liz Gannes wrote a good article last week about the monetization challenges faced by Alive in Baghdad, a project she called “arguably the best-positioned citizen news video outfit in the world.” AiB is pursuing licensing deals with major media outlets but advertising doesn’t seem to be a very viable option for sustaining this fantastic project.

Who else is doing great investigative journalism in video on the web? I spent a fair chunk of time looking, and asking other people for their favorites. Here’s the best projects that I’ve found so far. Please leave more in comments so we can all be inspired.
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My favorite podcasts

My local friend Dawn Foster has a podcast listening obsession and has followed up a list of her favorite podcasts with a request that some other people share their own lists.  I’ve never participated in one of these chains of blog posts where you tag me to write something about myself and then I tag other people – but this is a good one.  Making a list of clearly identifiable items already being produced by someone else?  No problem.

What is a podcast?  The term has been defined as serialized, shortform audio delivered by RSS – but they aren’t always short, they aren’t only audio (video podcasts are big) and a high percentage are viewed on web sites instead of by RSS anyway.  Serialized online media might be key concept.  It’s an unfortunate misconception that an iPod is required to consume podcasts.

To be honest I used to listen to far more podcasts before I got a good web enabled mobile phone, an EVDO card and the excellent services of the City of Noses dog walkers here in Portland.  All caveats aside, here’s my list and a SplashCast player so you can check out my favorites right away.

IT Conversations – not all episodes are of interest to me, but many of these interviews and tech conference talks are not to be missed.

Democracy Now – a daily audio and video show about current events that delivers some of the best investigative journalism and world news you’ll find anywhere.  This show is an international media phenomenon of mind-blowing proportions.  It’s broadcast on over 500 cable access and community radio stations in addition to being available as a podcast.

The Vloggies Show – Irina Slutsky’s comedy and commentary on the state of the video blogosphere is fun and informative.

Rabbit Bites – two sassy bunnies, with subtitles.  This one isn’t in the SplashCast player because something funky with the RSS feed prevents it from being included.

Textra – If you can get over the assumption that Natalie Del Conte is little more than Beauty Myth eye candy, you’ll find that she actually does some good research into the tech stories you might not have read closely over the week.

1938 Media – Loren Feldman is not a nice man but he’s smart and I can’t stop watching his show about people on the internet.

That’s about the extent of my current list of favorites.  Here are some shows I used to listen to a lot that you might enjoy as well.

The Gilmor Gang – Rest in Peace.  Ever since this weekly two-hour tech round table stopped publishing, podcasting has felt far less meaningful to me.  I mean that literally.

For Immediate Release – Another long show about online communication – PR especially.  Always timely, if a tad uninspired in its analysis (sorry guys).

Diary of a Shameless Self Promoter – Heidi Miller speaks at trade shows but also does a great podcast about promoting yourself as an independent professional.

Those are my favorites!  I’ll be putting this SplashCast player back in my redesigned blog sidebar here and adding individual videos I find and want to share in there as well.

What are your favorite podcasts?  New ones I like can be really hard to find so please let me know.  The practice of tagging people and asking them to blog about something in particular isn’t one I’ve ever been very comfortable with.  You’re reading this post – would you like to participate and list some of your favorite podcasts?  Go for it, link here or to Dawn’s post and we’ll all get to discover more content.

Now You Can Search YouTube Audio with Podzinger

I just wrote a review over at SplashCast of speech-to-text search engine Podzinger‘s new feature to search YouTube. It’s very impressive and wanted to make sure readers here knew about it too.

Results are different from searching YouTube metadata, so subscribing to feeds for both searches would probably be a good idea. There are a number of ways to do that, including Vixy’s YouTube RSS generator or through the official capacity with an URL like this: www.youtube.com/rss/tag/monkey.rss That’s of course most useful if you want to subscribe to YouTube videos tagged “monkey.”

How many people are going to want to subscribe to searches for words used in YouTube? A whole lot, I think.

Sphere is a new blog search engine

It’s all the rage on Tech.Memeorandum today. Sphere.com. Pretty good. I wrote more about it early in the day at Social Software. Having used it some more and listened to star-maker Mike Arrington interview the founders – I feel even better about it at the end of the afternoon. You might want to check it out too, and if you have an hour you might want to listen to the podcast linked to over there on Social Software.

Watching the Alpha-Geeks: Tim O’Reilly gives a great talk

Tim O’Reilly’s talk at eTech this March just got posted on ITConversations. Called “,” (link is to more info and download) it’s a great 30 minute overview of the trends underlying the bleeding edge of new tech. Very cool, very listenable. A great way to catch up or brush up on some of the most exciting things going on in the space. The world really is changing and this talk does a great job of explaining the upsides and some reasons to be concerned. O’Reilly is fantastic, as are many of the speakers in the ITConversations podcast series.

If you’re in the mood for podcasts, the most recent edition of the Gillmor Gang is not to be missed if you’re interested in new media vs. old and the changing advertising landscape. Amanda Cogden from , Jeff Jarvis from /About.com/NYTimes and Richard Edelman, head of the PR firm that represents Walmart and is smart enough to employ Steve Rubel, are all the guests. And it’s only 30 minutes long! So if you are put off by the usual hour length of one of the best podcasts online – this could be your big chance to check it out. Very forward-looking stuff in this one.

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