Somewhere out in the country side of western Portugal, I’m driving around dodging goats and tractors while reflecting on life’s challenges when you exist across borders. Instead of the usual world news issues and under reported news this is a more traditional stream-of-conciousness podcast that some people out there may be able to relate to when it comes to old age, economic problems, small towns, and ch-ch-changes. Join me on the back roads and highways of Portugal’s loveliest pear and wine regions.
Most discussions of blogging or podcasting history immediately sound crazy because they all involve an allegedly “long” span of about 12 to 14 years. As crazy as it may sound, when it comes to the internet, 12 years is an eternity. When it comes to life, however, 12 years goes by in the blink of an eye.
This spring I have rediscovered a podcast I used to listen to regularly, The Overnightscape, hosted by Frank Edward Nora who several times a week takes you along during his commute to work from New Jersey to Manhattan and occasionally invites you to relax at home with him or with a friend as they talk about everything from pop-culture to history and generally, things going on in Frank’s mind. Back in 2004, when podcasting first officially started, Frank’s style of recording would have been called stream of consciousness, which could be one of the greatest examples of what made the voices and style of podcasting so unique. No radio program would ever have had the nerve and patience to allow a host to just think out loud without a time limit, but the freedom and honestly of podcasting was the perfect place for it.
Though we’re not far from podcasting turning a decade old, strangely many of those podcasts that were so unique and experimental have disappeared. Producers of these programs stopped for a wide range of reasons, among them: the lack of financial resources to continue, the lack of returns in the form of feedback (or perhaps money), the demands of a day job or other offline life requirements, loss of interest, or as Ivan explained on a recent edition of the podcast – some projects need to end. Among today’s remaining independent podcast programs, there is a mix of specialized topics which often involve interviews and just a few long running monologue (stream of consciousness) type shows. (my favorite being the incomparable Yeast Radio) Many of these have faced their own critical moments where things almost shut down for good but then fortunately made it through and carry on still today.
Yet despite what we still have in terms of audio (and video) creators, many great ones have hung up their spurs and called it quits. There are countless audio and video files who’s hosting accounts ceased to exist and are therefore no longer available online. Time and the internet keep moving forward, things change, and what seems at present so permanent, can disappear so easily. At the recent gathering of creative minds during Re:publica12 in Berlin there was a group of people looking for like-minded individuals interested in archiving and preserving blogs. The familiar idea- that one day many of us and/or our websites will be gone and the only way to preserve this valuable (or valueless) work is to put it somewhere in such a manner that it will still be accessible well into the future.
With all this in mind I notice wordpress telling me that I will soon reach 2000 posts on citizenreporter.org. 2,000 posts, 420 podcasts and counting- will it all still be accessible in 12 years? I very much hope so.
Annie Correal knows all about the nature of the news reporting business and the internet of news feeds and hypersharing. But she also knows a world where people take time to tell their stories and listen to one another. The online world of reading, writing and recording where taking time and moving perhaps a little more slowly, is well worth the wait. Her work with both Cowbird and Radio Ambulante reveals two such places where people from all walks of life are coming together, and sharing life in a very significant way.
Today on the podcast I get to know Annie Correal, and ask her questions about how she got started as a journalist to how and why these two special projects became part of her life. Join us for what I believe is a very important and enjoyable conversation. Then go tell stories of your own!
As the sun disappears behind the concrete horizon, I look across the 10 lanes of highway that are currently all filled with cars moving extremely slowly. Everyone in their own vehicle on their way back from work heading home, everyone hoping this traffic will clear up, just as they hope everyday around this time. The highway is massive and bleak, with shards glass and tiny nondescript car pieces along the shoulder. The sound barriers couldn’t possibly block out all this sound, but communities along the highways of New Jersey figured that out long ago. Most of them are used to the 24 hour, year after year sound of trucks and cars roaring in the direction of New York or Pennsylvania.
This is New Jersey in 2012. This was New Jersey in 1992. A few decades pass, but other than the shape and design of the newer cars on the road, the feeling has not changed. If anyone happens to tune into news in the car, they could surely hear a report about the state of the world, specifically about the environment and the point to which humans are pushing it through our own collective behavior. But thats just on the news, the story out there is doing the daily routine. Getting through the day. Making that car payment. Paying that mortgage. Living that life we were taught to live.
Along the highway, between the occasional tree or building, there are the billboards. One in particular is for solar energy for your home. There’s a phone number under a picture of a solar panel. I wonder how many people have dialed it and how things are working out for them. A Prius pulls in front of me, I almost forgot there were hybrid vehicles out here among the SUV’s and livery cabs. The exit ramp takes me around and over the highway, the bridge I grew up crossing everyday looks worn and crumbling. The etched date in the concrete reads: 1974. I wonder how much we’ve really learned since then.