Saturday, 6 April 2013

Mediatwits uses new Google podcast publishing tool

The US's public broadcaster PBS runs a series of podcasts (YouTube, Google+, website) called Mediatwits hosted by the PBS Mediashift editor Mark Glaser. Because socmed is my native space I want to watch the videos on Google+ and the latest edition runs to about 35 minutes involving six people located as far afield as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Seattle.

The videos use the Google+ Hangout feature. How it works is that by recording a hangout you publish your video live to your YouTube channel, and then you can share it on any socmed or other vehicle from there. So for people who want to record a hangout and keep it private, then share it discretely, this system won't work. You have to be prepared to let the content go live on the web. I understand from checking some forums that Google is looking at adding the feature that would let you more tightly restrict who views recordings, but that this hasn't happened yet.

I find these multi-participant podcasts fascinating because it's a new way of creating, capturing, and sharing material; just last weekend I wrote about the new SMaC Talk podcasts that are being made by three web-savvy women living in Australia. But while SMaC Talk recordings are audio only, Mediatwits adds a visual dimension. As each participant talks his or her image is exploded to large size, while the silent participants remain live in small-screen along the bottom of the video. As with SMaC Talk, where journalist Valerie Khoo acts as host, in the Mediatwits there is a host who can bring individuals to the focus of attention with a remark and a tweak to the interface controls, and who can change the subject of discussion entirely if he wants to.

The most recent Mediatwits podcast contains a lot of discussion about sponsored content, or native advertising, on websites, and from Buzzfeed, a popular US media vehicle, comes Jonathan Perelman. Because Buzzfeed is using native advertising in its mix of stories and features Perelman comes in for a fair amount of criticism from others on the Mediatwits panel. The discussion is informed by a number of issues relating to credibility, income generation and the value of content. Because banner advertising has shortcomings in terms of impact and its ability to generate revenue, native advertising looks set to become more prevalent on websites everywhere in the future. Or not. However I don't recall anyone publicly talking about native advertising in the Australian context. So this edition of Mediatwits can form the basis of thinking about this kind of advertising in Australia as well as anywhere.

As usual with this kind of podcast content, production values sort of go out the window, but I think a lot of people will find the level of casualness in Mediatwits refreshing. The role of production values in commercial TV broadcasts is something that can be debated usefully, but I don't see anyone doing so. What you do see are these new kinds of video and audio content appearing in the absence of debate. I mean, who cares if we see people sitting around in their living rooms dressed for the street if they can talk intelligently on a given topic? It hardly matters to me.

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