Recently, New Media Initiatives met to discuss Podcasting, what we wanted to do with it, and even if the idea made sense. Several things came out of this discussion. First was that the main thing we want to do is simply allow users to listen to relavent info from artists, just like they can do with Art on Call, but instead use their iPods or another MP3 player. This could be as simple as someone selecting which artists they’re interested in from a list, or perhaps a preset “tour”, and downloading the appropriate MP3s to put on their iPods. Then when a patron is in the galleries, they simply bring up the artist they wish to listen to and hit play while standing in front of the work.
Would podcasting be the way to do this? Well, it turns out yes and no. In my last post I mentioned that podcasting is time sensitive, but thanks to an email and subsiquent meeting with Garrick Van Buren, who does quite a few of his own podcasts, I came to realize that this isn’t neccesarily true. I kept getting stuck in the notion that if the idea of podcasting was to broadcast new “radio shows”, then letting someone randomly select artist interviews to listen to wasn’t the same as a podcast. But really all a podcast is is a list of MP3s one can download, they don’t neccesarily have to be in order, or flow together, or be time sensitive. When thought of like this it makes more sense. We can publish our entire list of available artist stops online in our podcast RSS, and people can then select which works interest them, and only download those specific MP3s. So the idea still works.
But we don’t want to limit the ability to recieve these MP3s to podcasts or podcast software. So in addition to building a podcast RSS feed for people to use, we’re going to build an index list online in the Art on Call website, for people to check off which work MP3s they want to download and then let them take those files and put it into their iPod from the web itself. This gives people without a podcast reader, or iTunes, or even an iPod, a way to get the same audio from our website. In reality, we’re just distributing MP3s, so why not give people some different options on how to recieve them?
The other thing Garrick and I talked about was user tours. The idea is you could comment on an artwork after you hear about it when you dial Art on Call. It would save this as a voicemail, which automatically archives it to MP3, and we could pick the best comments to create user tours. This would allow people to choose multiple “versions” of the same tour. You could pick from the artists tour, the Teen remix, or the user tour of the same show, each having a different perspective on the work. Thankfully this has already been in planning from the beginning as an option to potentially pursue, so the groundwork is there, it’s just a matter of getting the time, support, research, etc to actually move forward and do it.
So, things are starting to solidify here, and we have a path to start down. First will be the online downloads from the Art on Call website, since we can start this right away, and it will be compatible with any MP3 software or player out there. After this we will look into podcasting this same info for people who prefer that distribution method. It looks like the new version of iTunes will be out by early July, so we should be able to do tests with that shortly as well.
Lastly, look for more RSS newsfeeds in general all over our website. We plan on having newsfeeds for each of the programming department sites (Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Film/Video) which includes blogs, events, articles, etc, and we also are going to do a newsfeed on the Channel, so people can stay up to date on what we are webcasting, and what has been archived to watch and enjoy. So look for that soon as well.