SpokenWord.org: Open to the Public

The day is finally here. No more excuses. No more alpha or beta. It’s time to open the doors. SpokenWord.org is ready for prime time and ready for you.

If you’re a regular reader of Blogarithms, you’re probably tired of hearing about SpokenWord.org, but if you’re a newcomer, here’s a portion of the press release:

There are perhaps millions of audio and video spoken-word recordings on the Internet. Think of all those lectures, interviews, speeches, conferences, meetings, radio and TV programs and podcasts. No matter how obscure the topic, someone has recorded and published it on line.

But how do you find it?

SpokenWord.org is a new free on-line service that helps you find, manage and share audio and video spoken-word recordings, regardless of who produced them or where they’re published. All of the recordings in the SpokenWord.org database are discovered on the Internet and submitted to our database by members like you.

SpokenWord.org has been ten months in the making, and like any such undertaking there are many people who contributed to its successful launch. I’d like to use this opportunity to thank just some of them and tell a bit of the story behind SpokenWord.org.

In April 2008 we held meetings of our Board of Advisors and Board of Directors in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was approaching the fifth anniversary of IT Conversations, and hence a good opportunity to review our mission. In the early days (more than a year before the birth of podcasting) we had no choice but to do everything ourselves — recording, post-production and publishing — and we were virtually alone on the Web. But today there are tens of thousands of podcasts, and it’s now de rigueur for conferences to post their audio and video recordings on line. Add to that the podcasts from public radio and universities, and it’s clear that anyone can now be a publisher. Looking at the big picture of spoken-word content on the Internet, the greatest need (and hence the potential for the greatest public benefit) has shifted from production and publishing to helping people find, organize and share the programs published by others. That is why we created SpokenWord.org.

Present at that seminal meeting were directors Jake Shapiro, Jon Udell, David Weinberger and advisors Dan Bricklin and Bob Lyons. The big Aha! came from Jon, who has continued to be an incredible inspiration to the project. Jon also introduced me to Lucas Gonze and Hugh McGuire, both of whom have graciously given me the benefit of their been-there/done-that experience.

Finally, I want to thank the active alpha testers who not only succeeded in breaking everything I wrote, but were also kind enough to provide the constructive criticism that got us to the version 1.0 release. Most notable among the nearly 100 active testers were David Marks, Bruce Sharpe, Steve Williams, Ken Kennedy, Joel Tscherne, Rashmi Sinha and Thilo Planz. (I feel like I’m delivering an Oscar acceptance speech and they’re trying to get me off the stage.)

Working with this awesome team of advisors has made this project one of tremendous personal satisfaction. I hope you enjoy the results of our efforts.

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