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Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

25 Jan 2007

‘Grammar Girl’ podcasts a huge success

vertmignon.jpg(CNN) – Grammar lessons often are associated with high school drudgery — diagramming sentences and memorizing obscure rules in between passing notes in English class — but an Arizona technical writer has turned the seemingly dry subject into a popular podcast.

Mignon Fogarty, the woman behind “Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing,” has been explaining the finer points of commas, colons and split infinitives since July.

She recently weighed in on a dispute over apostrophes that divided the U.S. Supreme Court. Grammar wasn’t the issue in the 5-4 decision, but Justice Clarence Thomas referred to “Kansas’ statute” in the majority opinion, while Justice David Souter wrote about “Kansas’s statute” in the minority.

Fogarty said both men were correct, but that she preferred leaving off the extra s.

“Justice Thomas’ name ends with an s, so you might guess that he is more familiar with the issue,” she told her audience.

Fogarty, 39, said she got the idea for the podcast, sort of an Internet radio show, during a California vacation. (Interactive: What is podcasting?)

“I was sitting in a coffee shop one day in Santa Cruz, California, on vacation and editing technical documents, because I work on vacation, and found so many grammar errors and it just hit me that grammar was something that I had expertise in that would lend itself to a short tip-based podcast,” she said.

The show is currently the 47th most popular podcast on Apple’s iTunes service, right behind “Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day.” It has been as high as number two, Fogarty said. She said the shows have been downloaded more than 1.3 million times.

Fogarty said she’s gotten some publicity, but that most of her audience comes from word of mouth.

“I get e-mails from people who say ‘I just discovered your podcast and I’ve told everyone I work with’ or ‘I told every teacher at my school,'” she said. “I get a lot of e-mails like that, where people discover it and they just can’t wait to tell everybody, which is really cool.”

Sara Kearns, a librarian at Kansas State University, has been listening to Grammar Girl since October, and recommended it on the library’s blog.

“I listen to Grammar Girl in chunks. A couple of weeks may go by and then I’ll listen to 10 of them at a time,” Kearns said in an e-mail interview. “The genius of Grammar Girl, apart from her ability to simplify grammar, is that she posts the transcripts so that I can stare at a gnarly piece of grammar until it clicks.”

Fogarty said her audience ranges from schoolchildren in China to CEOs in the United States.

“I try to make it fun. I’ve even had people say ‘I’m not that interested in grammar, I don’t know why I listen.’ But I’m glad that they do,” Fogarty said. “I think people like that it’s short. It’s sort of a low-commitment podcast. And yet they learn something that’s useful that they can put to use when they write their next e-mail.”

The success of the show prompted Fogarty to produce two more podcasts “Mr. Manners’ Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Polite Life” and “Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life.” She said she’s started selling ads and is even getting some interest from book publishers.

One drawback of her work, she said, is that listeners are nervous about writing her.

“I feel bad about that, I don’t want people to be afraid to write to me, but about half of my e-mails start with some sort of pre-apology for errors they expect to make,” she said.

She said they shouldn’t worry, and that she doesn’t send back e-mails with big, red correction marks.

Visit Grammar Girl site

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  • Filed under: Podcast

  • 18 Dec 2006

    Times Magazine’s Man of The Year 2006

    Congratulations! You are the Time magazine ”Person of the Year.”

    The annual honor for 2006 went to each and every one of us, as Time cited the shift from institutions to individuals — citizens of the new digital democracy, as the magazine put it. The winners this year were anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web.

    Read the story direct – Person of the Year 2006
    [swf width=”374″ height=”272″]http://www.time.com/time/personoftheyear/2006/flash/poy2006.swf[/swf]

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    Time magazine Editor Richard Stengel, holds the Time Person of the Year magazine. And the winner is you: anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web.

    “For seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, Time’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you,” the magazine’s Lev Grossman wrote.

    The magazine has put a mirror on the cover of its “Person of the Year” issue, released on Monday, “because it literally reflects the idea that you, not us, are transforming the information age”, Editor Richard Stengel said in a statement.

    You beat candidates including Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, China’s President Hu Jintao, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and James Baker, the former US Secretary of State who led Washington’s bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

    Time has been naming its person of the year since 1927 and the tradition has become the source of speculation every year, as well as controversy over unpopular choices such as Adolf Hitler in 1938 and Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

    The aim is to pick “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or for ill, and embodied what was important about the year, for better or for worse”.

    Grossman said the creators and consumers of user-generated internet sites showed a community and collaboration on a scale never seen before.

    “It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes,” said Grossman, Time’s technology writer and book critic.

    “The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web,” he said. “It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.”

    MySpace – bought by media giant News Corp last year for $US580 million – has more than 130 million users around the world and adds around 300,000 members a day, while YouTube – bought by internet search leader Google last month for $US1.65 billion – gets about 100 million daily views.

    “These blogs and videos bring events to the rest of us in ways that are often more immediate and authentic than traditional media,” Stengel said.

    “Journalists once had the exclusive province of taking people to places they’d never been. But now a mother in Baghdad with a videophone can let you see a roadside bombing or a patron in a nightclub can show you a racist rant by a famous comedian,” he said.

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  • Filed under: Audio, Blogs, MySpace, Podcast, Video, Web 2.0, YouTube

  • 14 Dec 2006

    National Geographic podcasts tell the world’s stories

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    Free audio and video podcasts from National Geographic now make it possible for students and teachers to experience an African safari, catch the week’s top science and nature news stories, and listen to interviews and songs of world music stars. Available for downloading to an iPod or MP3 player, the podcasts aim to inspire audiences to care about the planet by tapping into a wide range of newly produced and existing content from National Geographic. “Podcasting is the ultimate tool for learning about the world,” said Betsy Scolnik, vice president of content operations for National Geographic Digital Media. “It makes it easy for everyone–from students and teachers looking for study resources, to armchair travelers or on-the-go adventurers–to access great stories through video, audio, music, and still photos. National Geographic’s podcasts build on more than a century of exploration. The lively topics and engaging sights and sounds captivate audiences of all generations.”

    Links – http://www.nationalgeographic.com/podcasts

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  • Filed under: Audio, iPod, MP3 Player, Podcast, Video