Archive for July 2006

Blacknight Solutions sponsor web hosting for An Lionra Soisialta

July 26, 2006

Heartfelt thanks to Michele Neylon, CEO of Blacknight Solutions who has graciously offered to sponsor web hosting for An Lionra Soisialta.

Go raibh maith agat!


How to Podcast: Fully Mobile

July 26, 2006

Here’s another one in the “How to Podcast” series. Follow the photo to Flickr for a description of podcasting on the move, and a discussion on how to avoid clipping distortion.

Public Service Podcasting

July 25, 2006

Paul Browne made some very kind comments about An tImeall some time ago.  I didn’t respond at the time – mostly because I was on a blogging go-slow due to moving house – but also because – well, let me get to that in a minute.

Can I give my TV Licence fee to An tImeall? In the last 18 months Conn Ó Muíneacháin has done more for the Irish language via Podcasting than the entire team at RTE, so I’d like him to get my 150 Euro.

Thanks Paul, I’m hugely flattered! 🙂

My personal opinion is that RTE’s two Irish language services in particular (Raidio na Gaeltachta and TG4) do a wonderful job with limited resources.  In particular, I think it is regrettable that TG4 must resort to a high proportion of imported English language programming to fill the gaps in their schedule.

Not surprisingly, I support the principle of public funding for the production and broadcast of programmes which have cultural and public-service value, but perhaps not commercial value.  Traditionally in Ireland this has been the exclusive domain of RTE and and, on the whole, I think they have done well in serving this function.

However, a positive development in recent times has been the acceptance of the idea that public service broadcasting need not be the exclusive domain of the state-owned services alone.  The  Broadcasting Commision of Ireland now operates a scheme called Sound and Vision which allows independent broadcasters to tender proposals for funding “the production of new television and radio programmes in the areas of Irish culture, heritage and experience and adult literacy”.  This has resulted in a number of high-quality productions, in particular on local radio stations around the country.

Sound and Vision is designed to support public service broadcasting only.  There is (as yet) no framework for public service podcasting!  However, over the course of the past year, An tImeall has developed links with a number of Irish radio stations, and so, last April, I felt encouraged to submit an application to produce a radio series to be broadcast on Flirt FM in Galway.

I’m delighted to be able to announce that my application was successful.  Last week, the BCI announced the projects which have been approved and offered funding in the second round of Sound and Vision.  One of these is An Líonra Sóisialta (The Social Network), a series of 64 short episodes over 13 weeks, which aims to introduce the radio-listening, Irish-language community to the world of online social networking.

An Líonra Sóisialta will be broadcast on Flirt FM beginning in September.  At least one other Irish radio station has also expressed an interest.  In keeping with it’s theme, the series will aim to encourage audience participation and so it is hoped, by the time we go on air, that we will have agreements to syndicate the show across a network of independent local and commuunity radio stations in Ireland (and maybe even abroad!)

The ideas for An Líonra Sóisialta were developed based on my experiences with An tImeall, and in some ways it is a successor to it.  However, it will differ significantly, primarily in the fact that it is a radio programme, not a podcast.  It is designed for people who may have never heard a podcast or posted a message online.  It is designed for Irish speakers, both fluent and learners.  It will be for school groups and for isolated gaeilgeóiri.  It will aim to introduce the larger offline Irish language community to the nascent global community who are already using online social networking to preserve and promote this ancient and vibrant culture.

Of course, each episode will be podcast as well.  And the series will have a blog, a wiki, a mailing list and maybe even a message board.  I’m also looking for sponsorship, ideally from the Information and Communications Technology sector.  (The BCI funding will not cover even half of the costs.)  Interested?  Get in touch.  I think it’s a unique opportunity to raise the profile of an ICT brand in Ireland.

What else?  I need web hosting.  And I need a logo, any graphic designers want to get involved?  If you are a broadcaster and you would like to syndicate An Líonra Sóisialta, get in touch.

When Paul made his orginal post in June, I was too busy to reply, but I also must admit that I did have a superstitious fear that I would jinx my application by talking about it.  Now I can say it looks like Paul has got his wish.  The Sound and Vision scheme is funded by 5% of the TV licence fee.

Being a peasant is nothing to be ashamed of. Being ignorant is nothing to be proud of.

July 20, 2006

Richard Waghorne derides the Irish language and Irish folk music as “peasant“.  As if their worth was somehow diminished by that classification?

Richard’s a cultured type of fellow, you know.  His references and allusions are impeccable, his shibboleths carefully rehearsed.  It’s all about projecting the right image: in with the in-crowd, running with the pack, toe the party line, true blue, to the hilt, died in the wool, on the right side, not “one of them”, gentleman to the core, faultless credentials, right sort.

Not sure what I mean?  I invite you to read Richard’s blog.  Pick any three posts at random.  Go on, pick six!  Observe the careful construction, the selective examples, the name dropping (and fawning), the cultural references.  These posts are not arguments or apologiae.  They are simply expressions of identity: flag-waving, soccer-chants.

“Look at me! I’m a right-wing, neo-con, pro-Bush, pro-business, anti-peasant!  You’ll never catch me conceding any point to them.  When I grow up I want to be an internationally-renowned right-wing intellectual commentator, just like <insert_here_from_list>”.

Richard’s got a plan to acheive this goal: observe and imitate (monkey-see, monkey-do).  No room for independent thought or open-mindedness here!  Start with the conclusion (the “appropriate” conclusion of course) and construct the argument to fit.  Colour it up with some suitably highbrow references and presto!  Childs play!

It certainly is.  Debating for dummies.  Blogging by numbers.  It can look very impressive too, and if you are the kind of person who wants nothing more than to have your prejudices and misconceptions re-affirmed then this kind of thing should keep you going for quite a while.  There is no shortage of this kind of cheerleader blogging at any end of the political spectrum, and no shortage of mobs to applaud it. 

So, Richard’s argument against the Irish language and Irish music is essentially that they are “peasant”.  Translation?  “The wrong sort, really.  Nasty, backward types.  Not like us.  Oh – and farmers too.  Smelly.”

Of course, I’m just a peasant.  I confess to being ignorant of a great many subjects, as Richard is of Irish artists like Máirtín Ó Cadhain.  Unlike Richard, however, I do not consider ignorance to be a virtue.  I am open-minded, and willing to learn.  How can you tell?  That’s easy: comments are open.

[Tuilleadh plé ar an ábhar seo:, Dónal Ó Caoimh, Adam Maguire]

Driving Under the Influence of OPML

July 12, 2006

The audience for podcasts in the Irish language is small, relatively speaking.  So you’d think I would have more sense than to reduce it even further by going all geeky and talking about outlines, OPML and open directories?  You would, wouldn’t you?

I think this is the strangest podcast I’ve done.  Driving around Ennis, getting my car NCT’d, trying to explain OPML directories, speaking in Irish, while my baby son chimes in from the back seat (he’s an anti-geek device!)

I’ve been following James Corbett‘s blogging with great interest for the longest time.  Some people, like James, grasp the potential of things like OPML straight away.  The rest of us have to wait until those people demonstrate that potential for us.

I really twigged what OPML was about when I saw the Indiepodder Directory – and got the idea of how a distributed directory could work.  Unfortunately that project has, it would appear, been somewhat neglected.   A good while back I hacked together an OPML outline for Celtic language podcasts and mailed Adam Curry asking to get it included on Indiepodder – without any reply.  Not to worry, though, because that’s one of the advantages of OPML.  As Dave Winer has explained it, there really is no “top” of the directory.  So while it gives a large number of volunteer users the power to organise their information, if key volunteers get distracted it does not fall apart. may be effectively defunct, but the guts of that directory is not on at all, but merely included in it.  The various nodes which make up the directory can be, and already have been, included in other directories also.

It’s over 6 months since James suggested I do an Open Directory of resources in the Irish language.  I’ve been distracted by all kinds of things in the meantime, and hampered by the dearth of user-friendly OPML editing tools.  (Anybody know how do I set the “type” attribute of “outline” using Dave’s OPML editor?)  But I kept being encouraged by seeing the work James, RowanGrazr and others were doing.  We’ve learned how to render and browse OPML beautifully – and in doing so developed some new ideas about how feeds can be discovered and consumed – by grazing OPML.

Then last week, I reported in my column for  on how Damien Mulley had created 166 watchlists, John Handelaar had OPML-ised them and James had included that OPML in the Open Irish Directory, resulting in an easily browseable (grazeable!) list of Irish TDs (members of parliament) which expands into a watchlist for each of their names.  What more encouragement did I need?  It was time to act!

So today’s posts and podcasts are by way of announcing Eolaire Oscailte na Gaeilge, the Open Directory of the Irish Language.  It’s just a start, but I think I know a community of volunteers who can help to build on it!  Tús maith, leath na h-oibre!

How to Podcast

July 2, 2006

Temporary Portable Podcast StudioToday is the anniversary of my first podcast and, to celebrate, I’m beginning a series of posts on this blog on the technical side of podcasting.  I don’t claim to have all the answers on this, but I hope to encourage a dialogue which will help me as well as others.

To get the ball rolling, visit this Flickr post for a description of my current “ad hoc” podcasting setup.  An tImeall episodes 126 to 130 have been produced in this way.