Jul 5, 2006

Berin and the Big Bandwidth Bill

For a few months now, I've been toying with the idea of starting a new podcast. I love the technology, and I'm a huge weekly consumer of a long list of gaming, geek, and techie podcasts.

Podcasting is just such a beautiful thing. It's an illustration of what makes a free internet great, and is an iconic showpiece of why Net Neutrality is so incredibly vital. Anyone can record their musings on any topic of their choice, upload them, and share their mind with any who care to listen.

What's the alternative? When was the last time you caught a radio show catered to your particular interests? Fishing, skating, geek life, needlepoint - how far and wide would you have to search to find a commercial radio show giving even a few minutes to any of these esoteric topics? Yet, all one needs is a PC and an internet connection to enjoy an incredibly broad selection of podcasts catering to each of our individual personal interests. That is freedom, my friends - that is the sharing of minds across all geographical (international even!), cultural, and lifestyle borders. What a time we live in!

Back to my ephemeral podcast musings though. I've been mulling over an idea for a World of Warcraft podcast for some time. There are several great ones out there, but seeing as WoW is one of my biggest interests now, I still wanted to contribute to the community. So, I've been considering unique angles on the topic, and came up with the idea of a "WoW-101" show, designed to help new players along.

I imagine addressing topics such as effective soloing and questing techniques, proper group dynamics, the different class roles within a group, etc. I envision my local gaming friends co-hosting regularly, and occasional guest spots by members of my WoW guild appearing in focus pieces on particular classes or professions.

So what's stopping me, you ask? Fear of success and the Big Bandwidth Bill. WoW is a popular phenomenon, and I worry that if the project were of sufficient quality and posted on iTunes,
the podcast might gain enough popularity to make the bandwidth unaffordable to me. I'm not an expert on the particulars, but from comments mentioned on several of my favorite podcasts, even a moderate following can quickly turn into a car payment-sized byte bill.

Perhaps if the site were built with growth in mind, and a donation button in place from the get-go, everything would work out fine. At this point, it's still too scary to me.

Enter my RL buddy Ken over at Nuketown. He's been mentioning a desire to attempt an occasional collaboration on his Radio Active podcast, and it seemed like a great opportunity for me to at least give the physical recording process a whirl. We haven't even discussed any details as of yet, as Ken's been busy getting his life ready for a new baby. Ken's son is a few weeks old now though, and a specific opportunity has perhaps reared its head.

Berin from Uncle Bear has also been making plans to embrace the podcasting medium, and has put out a call for submissions from the gamer community. He's looking for pieces that examine the gaming culture - the gamer/non-gamer dynamic, as well as discussions from the viewpoints of different types of gamers (video vs. paper RPG vs. CCG, etc.).

Ken has proposed the two of us discussing the topics of gaming and geek life as parents, perhaps even bringing Mur Lafferty from Geek Fu Action Grip into the mix. (That would be a particular treat, as Mur's podcast has been a frequent listen for me.) It all sounds like a great opportunity for me to test drive a mic and see if it's for me. We shall see. :)


Ken Newquist said...

If everyone used aggregators to snag podcasts (which it seems most people don't) net neutrality would be a non-issue. As long as there's some sort of pipe, it'll get to your machine ... eventually.

Overall, I think the net neturality thing is overblown; inevitably someone will find a way to work around the slow spots, and net-net you won't see a difference. Then again, maybe I'm just a wide-eyed optimist.

On the podcasting front, I'm thinking some sort of round-robin session tied into Nuke(m)Con would also be cool, something akin to what they do over at Dice Make Bonk.

Lance said...

I have to respectfully disagree about Net Neutrality. The large communication companies want to make judgments about how I should and shouldn't use my bandwidth.

I pay Verizon for the availability of roughly 3 Gb/sec down speed. It's none of their damn business what I use that pipeline for. They get my check every month, like clockwork, and when I want to use that pipe, I expect it to be available, and I don't want anyone dictating how I should use it.

It's like At&T saying, "Oh, you just use the phone to talk to your mom? Well, we'll just ratchet down the quality when we detect a call to her number. If you want to make a call to one of our affiliates as a consumer though, we'll make sure you come in nice and clear."

Or the state government saying, "Wait, you're driving on the Turnpike to visit an amusement park with your family?? You'll have to get in the slow lane, sir, and your toll will be $5 extra. Anytime you want to visit one of our business partners though, you get right in in the fast lane! Have a nice day now."

Leggo my internet!

Lance said...

I don't know much about aggregators. How would they save overall bandwidth over say getting my podcasts via iTunes? Do the aggregators have some kind of file-sharing / bit torrent like feature?

The reason I'm saying that net throttling / segregation could destroy podcasting is this: Right now, bandwidth costs a certain amount. The media corps want to charge different rates according to the content of the traffic. The corporations could very well price casual-use, large-data-file traffic out of the reach of hobbyists.