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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Final Brick in the Wall

Okay, by this time, it's no secret I've been trying to complete National
Podcast Posting Month, or NaPodPoMo -- all thirty days of November,
a podcast every day? Well, I have effectively completed NaPodPoMo. I have "Stories from the Hiber-
Nation" set up for the rest of the month, and for several days into
December. Wanted to get that book, "Monarch," done, and now it's all there
waiting for you.

As a Glutton for Punishment, I keep thinking this should have been
harder. I think maybe I cheated. I didn't violate the rules; I did
in fact do podcasts for every day of the month. All the rules call
for is to "post some audio every day," any audio. If one wished,
one could go to one of the podsafe music sources out there, get 30
songs, stick on attribution, maybe a title & close, record and post
in advance, and you'd have legitimately fulfilled the basics. You'd
have actually surpassed the minimum. If your music selection is good,
you may well have an entertaining show.

From what I've seen, folks that just try to do the bare minimum simply
lose interest in short order. The minimum is boring. Add to that,
it's harder than it looks. It looks like you could just ramble on
in a mic for a few minutes each day, or record your basic anything
each day, and get through the month like a breeze. But I don't think
people can avoid the need to feel their show is entertaining, even
to only a handful of people.

So in terms of the one and only rule, I didn't cheat, or at least,
I didn't cheat NaPodPoMo or my fellow participants, or cheat our children
and children's children of their future. I cheated myself. Maybe.

Why? Why? It comes down to the best one can get out of The NaPodPoMo
Experience, as Jen from the Hypernonsense Podcast at HYPERNONSENSE
DOT COM describes it.

Think about it. First there was NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing
Month. A writer commits to writing 50,000 words toward a novel, within
30 days, starting with nothing. At the end of the month, you have
a sort of a novel. It may suck, it may not, but it's a novel, and
you've written one, as you've always said you would.

But also, if you really want to be a Novelist, to continue to write
novels as a regular thing, it is pretty much necessary that you write
almost every day -- and every day would be nice -- even if it's only
a little, and not 1666.67 words every day. The only way to learn
that habit is to just do it every day until it becomes second nature.
After NaNoWriMo, you've got a fair start on acquiring that habit.
At least you know what it feels like.

Then there was NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. Similar principle,
but instead of 1666.67 words, you have one Blog post each day. Seems
simpler, huh? Certainly involves less typing. But the Blogging thing
has its own paybacks. Nobody wants to just post something, they want
their Blog to be like the big ones, clever, meaningful, and entertaining,
even to a small audience. I don't really blog regularly, but I don't
really feel comfortable doing meaningless rambles on my blog. I do
them, but I'm not happy about them.

I also recall some "blogging expert" saying in an interview that for
a blog to really have a detectable presence on the Internet, the blogger
has to post every day. Google won't even notice you if you do less.
There'll just not be enough content to impact a search. Twice a
day is much more impactful, though more than that might be a bit
excessive.
Then again, how often do your local radio and TV stations do the
news, even a little newsbreak? Maybe a dozen times a day? How many
articles are in your local paper, even just the front page? That's
what people expect of a real information resource. To the extent
NaBloPoMo gets you into those sorts of habits, there's a real benefit.

And then there's us. NaPodPoMo doesn't ask for 1666.67 words a day,
or one Podcast a day. It asks for "some audio" every day. There
is nothing there that demands any particular level of quality, time,
or content. Just "some audio."

Most of us have tried to produce a real Podcast with a capital P every
day, even if it's just a short one. Or, more often, to paraphrase
Abraham Lincoln, "I'm sorry I recorded such a long Podcast today,
I didn't have time to write a short one."

So, what is the full benefit of participating in NaPodPoMo?

Well, there's the challenge. As I've said, after the first week or
two, you find out it isn't that easy to sustain even a "Dear Diary"
podcast every single damn day.

There's the cameradery. A whole bunch of people, all over the world,
all striving to reach the same goal, in competition only with themselves
and their own determination. There's value in that.

There's technical experience. Content every day means editing every
day, uploading every day, show notes every day, if you're doing it
right. And learning how to listen to and comment on other folks'
shows, and finding ways to keep track of all that other content you
really intend to listen to. I could seriously see NaPodPoMo as a
good opportunity for a person new to podcasting, if they actually
go ahead and do it. I know it's hard to get started podcasting, and
that most podcasts simply fade away after the first five-or-so episodes.
If you decide up front you're going to do 30 the first month, and
you succeed, you've gotten over that first hump, you've gained a lot
of experience, and you've probably learned a lot from a bunch of folks
who may have more experience, are willing to help, and are also most
likely trying something they've never tried before.

I've performed the tasks I mentioned, although I really haven't kept
up on the listening and commenting part. But there's something I
didn't do, something that even the "daily diary" podcasters did through
the whole month. I didn't write.

I did four regular "Grizzly's Growls" podcasts. I did 26 "Stories
from the Hiber-Nation" podcasts. The latter required recording, editing,
posting, shownotes, alla that. But it didn't require writing.

I think I had an opportunity to become a better podcaster overall
by actually creating new content every day, writing and editing, choosing
music, assembling the show, and then recording and doing all the other
stuff I did do. I think for me this could have risen to the real
Podcaster equivalent of NaNoWriMo. I really could have gained some
better habits about writing, and thinking about new subjects, and
maybe even doing some real research for my shows. And I didn't do
that.

Could I have done it? Could I have produced something resembling
my normal shows as a daily show? No, not a chance. But I might have
learned something valuable by trying it.

I cheated. That's me, Mr. Cheater Cheaty-pants. And I only cheated
myself.

I did gain some valuable experience, I enjoyed the challenge, and
if I did it again, I'd do it the same way. I like trying new stuff.
But I think I prefer succeeding at old stuff.

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