David Berlind captured in my flickr photos
I attended a session at podcamp called Gear Talk by David Berlind. He kindly posted some pointers to the details about the equipment he is using on his ZDnet blog. This represents the high-end, professional equipment. As David acknowledged to the audience before launching into a audio geek show and tell session, "Your equipment depends on your needs. In my work, I have 20 minutes to interview Bill Gates and I need my equipment to work."
It is important to keep in mind that there are different levels of equipment investment , learning time, skills requirement, and planning time required. There are trade-offs to different approaches in terms of sound quality to keep in mind.
Easy and Cheap
You can get going with podcasting pretty easily and cheaply using a tool like hipcast and your cellphone as Steve Garfield. There is a lower point of entry - no editing, no need to know any audio editing programs, and immediate publishing. And, while the sound and visual look may not be polished, one could perfect their skills at guerrila podcasting/videocasting so the quality didn't detract from the content. I think this is a good way to just start to explore the medium and this genre of podcasting/videocasting without lots of money or time.
I think it is a fabulous technique for capturing and sharing knowledge from conferences and other nonprofit gatherings as I noted here.
Middle of the Road
I attended a session called Podcasting 101 by John of the Mshow (my notes here) He outlined a middle of the road approach in terms of time, skill, and equipment investment. This is probably what nonprofit organizations who want to go beyond the limitations of the cheap and easy approach might do. As John pointed out in his talk, content is the most important - which can be a barrier.
Recently on the N-TEN Discuss list, someone asked about microphones for podcasting. There was lots of good advice and specific recommendations (see my summary here.) One of the people who posted was very knowledgable --so I emailed them to inquire if their nonprofit had done podcasting.
They answered, "We actually do not podcast here. Folks were all excited about it for a while, but I kept having to ask what we would actually be podcasting about and no one seemed to have an answer. I find that to be the case with a lot of new technologies. Everybody wants to do it, but they do not have a reason to. I think descriptions of our work really need a visual component to be captivating."
This observation further reinforces the point made by Leesa Barnes during her session "Planning A Killer Podcast," about analyzing your content, audience, image, and promotional strategy prior to launching a podcast show. I keep thinking about the podcast listener survey she conducted and how it makes a compelling case for some nonprofits to consider podcasting as part of their mix.
All in all, podcamp was a valuable source of knowledge exchange. Also, if we want to see a more balance female/male ratio of podcast gatherings, more women need to show up. And, since this is an unconference format, all we need to do is add ourselves to the agenda. Damn, next year I will.