This was my first quarter in the MCDM program and I recognize how much I’ve grown in the realm of digital and social media in the past two months. I entered the term excited to learn more about web-based communication but recognized that I didn’t know much. I did not follow any blogs other than the public journals of friends and family, and certainly didn’t listen to any podcasts. The podcasts and blogs that I chose to follow at the beginning of the quarter are not what I would have selected now; every one of them stems from a traditional source of media: The New York Times, NPR, KEXP and PBS. I picked these because that was what I was familiar with. However, as the quarter progressed and I was exposed to more and more purely web-based platforms, I started to look outside of the traditional media bubble. I now read Jeremiah Owyang’s blog and Mashable and subscribe to podcasts that teach me about topics I am interested in, like Inside Digital Media, One Minute Russian (a nod to my undergraduate degree) and Beer is Tasty, two regular guys with a camera who show that amateurs can be just as entertaining and informative as the pros.

I’ve come to appreciate podcasts as a way to get information on the go. Between two classes, an internship and my personal life, I’ve been busier this quarter than I ever have been before; therefore, my time is precious. In order to make every minute count, I listen to podcasts while walking or riding the bus. It’s an effective way to multitask: learning while in motion. Our readings showed me that there are plenty of resources to find podcasts besides iTunes: Podcast Alley, Digital Podcast, Odeo, to name a few. The list on page 262 of The Business Podcasting Book (TBPB) was invaluable when looking for places to submit podcasts, both personally and professionally.

Creating my own podcast was eye-opening and fun; it also took a lot longer than I anticipated, though the reading adequately warned of the time commitment. I had some experience in radio, so I understood the basics of sound, but I had never recorded or edited audio before and was surprised to pick up Audacity fairly quickly. The best single piece of advice TBPB gives is, “if you flub a few words during recording, stop what you’re saying and wait about 5 seconds.” (TBPB, 159). This proved to be a valuable time saver in both editing and recording; by repeating the phrase correctly a second time, I was able to go in and just snip out the erroneous version in Audacity.

One regret is that I did not take more time to research equipment; I was so enamored with the idea of creating a podcast using a portable recorder that I didn’t stop to consider the quality and stubbornly clung to the idea that I could make it work. Renee coaxed excellent sound quality from a Rode NT1-A microphone and M-Audio MobilePre audio interface, and I am now determined to experiment until I find the right fit for me.

Because I was enrolled in this class, my internship entrusted me with the syndication of podcasts created for them by a PR firm. This was a learning process for all of us. While I was not asked to do any computer programming, I had to understand enough about RSS code to explain what I needed IT to do. I literally shed tears of frustration at one point in this process (fortunately I mostly work from home and no one saw), but eventually got the feed to function thanks to outside research and help from our CTO.

The group project was different from the personal podcast for a few reasons. For one, there were other people involved, meaning we needed to find a way to coordinate ideas and output. Though my effort was the same, my personal investment in the topic itself was less: I am interested Seattle tourism but I can’t truthfully say that I am passionate about it the way I am about cooking. Because our core team was small (only three people), coordination was fairly easy and everything moved quickly, yet we were still able to combine our various skills and points of view. I understand why this group size is considered ideal. (TBPB, 74).

Before our group project, I had never contributed to a Wiki. Vera introduced me to PB Wiki, though ultimately we went with Wet Paint for our final pitch. Wikis make collaboration easy; while there was also a fair amount of email between the three of us and several physical meetings, we completed the majority of the written content online. A problem with group projects in a learning environment is that group members generally play to their pre-existing strengths: the writers write the script, the tech-saavy individuals record and edit it, the confident speakers host it, and so on. Through this method people build upon skills they already have, but do not expand upon new ones, making the learning process moot. Professionally speaking, this may be realistic (TBPB, 70), though frequently one is given a task at work with which one has little experience and must master it quickly. Our group fortunately did not function this way, for the most part. We worked collaboratively on the proposal, and we each developed, recorded and edited our own segments. Alvin has the most recording experience and arguably the best speaking voice, so we chose him to host and piece the segments together, but otherwise we equally divided each aspect of the assignment.

I am definitely going to attempt another episode of my personal podcast; the day after completing my podcast, a coworker coincidentally forwarded us all the beer and food-pairing website Beer Sommelier as an example of good web design (I then forwarded him my podcast), and I interpreted this as a sign that it is my destiny to record again; the reality is that I had fun creating it and I’m enough of a perfectionist to want to do it right.