Archive for September 2006

Can you learn Irish by listening to my podcasts?

September 24, 2006

Proabably not!  But I’d love to know if it helps.

The subject has come up over at An Líonra Sóisialta:

This is very important to me.  One of the reasons I strive to promote blogging and podcasting in Irish is that I personally use these media to practice and improve my own Irish.  I am not a native speaker.

On the other hand, I am not a teacher either, and this is not a language course.  It is a grown-up podcast (or radio show – call it what you like!) about a particular subject which happens to be in Irish.

if you want to learn Irish, you might want to consider Oideas Gael, or perhaps an online course such as

However, I do believe that An Líonra Sóisialta may be of some value as an authentic source of material to learners, for the following reasons.

  • We’re going to keep it simple – and short.  Each episode of An Líonra Sóisialta will last no more than 12 minutes – and that includes 5 minutes of music.  That leaves just 7 minutes of speech, and that 7 minutes will be broken down further into segments ranging from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
  • We’re going to repeat ourselves ad nauseam.  While we are not trying to teach Irish, we are trying to teach people about online social networking.  That’s a big area – and a new idea for many people.  We’ll be taking it nice and slowly.
  • There’s more than one way to find out what’s going on.  Listen to the podcast.  Read the shownotes.  (On Fridays you’ll find a transcript for 5 minutes worth of the show – otherwise: bullet points.)  Follow the links to the web sources we reference – most of them will be in English.  Listen to the podcast again.
  • Feedback!  Let us know what you find easiest to understand or otherwise.  We don’t want to make this hard if we can help it.  Help us!  (I’ll be posting contact details in the right hand margin later today.)

An Líonra Sóisialta Launched

September 23, 2006

Here’s the press-release which did the damageJett would probably describe it as “King Kong Long”, and he’d be right.  But at least it’s only text! 🙂

Ground-Breaking New Radio Show To Teach Internet
“As Gaeilge”

Radio listeners across Ireland will join internet users worldwide next Monday, as they tune in to the first episode of a new series focusing on the social aspects of the internet.

It’s the first time an Irish radio series has been devoted exclusively to the phenomenon of “online social networking”, of which the best known example in recent months has been Bebo. What’s more: all 59 episodes of the show will be in Irish.

The programme is called An Líonra Sóisialta, which translates to The Social Network. It will broadcast a 12 minute episode each day for 12 weeks.

So far, 7 Irish radio stations have confirmed that they will broadcast the show and its producer believes several more will join over the next few weeks as the series gathers steam.

Thanks to the internet, however, the show will be available to anyone who wants to hear it, anywhere in the world. An Líonra Sóisialta will also be a “podcast” – a downloadable MP3 sound file that users can listen to on their PC, or copy to a mobile device to enjoy at their convenience.

The new series is the brainchild of independent producer Conn Ó Muíneacháin from Ennis, County Clare. After a successful career in local radio, he gave up broadcasting for the computer industry. 10 years later, he sees the two fields converging as technology has put the media into the hands of anyone who has access to the internet.

“Anyone can publish. Anyone can speak. Like a letters page, or a phone-in show, the internet gives the public a voice. The difference is that there are no editors or programme controllers.”

To some this sounds like a recipe for anarchy. How is all this self-published material organised? How can the consumer be helped to find information which is useful and interesting to them?

“That’s the most exciting thing about it”, says Conn. “Nobody knows for sure! The tools and rules are being developed as we speak. New services and business models are launched every week. Some fail. Some develop and grow. All of them help us to understand how this new kind of media is supposed to work.”

These kinds of ideas are discussed daily in the “blogosphere” – the global community of self-published websites: weblogs, or simply “blogs”. They are familiar to people who collect the “feeds” from scores of such sites for easy reading in “aggregators”. They are debated in interviews and panel discussions on podcasts.

Conn Ó Muíneacháin wants to bring this discussion to a wider audience. “An Líonra Sóisialta is designed for non-technical people. It’s for people who are interested in media, but not necessarily in technology. It will introduce new ideas gently with short daily episodes over 12 weeks.”

But why do it in Irish? “Irish is why I became interested in citizen media in the first place. People employed in Irish language media do a wonderful job with limited resources. But the choice isn’t there. And what is there may be broadcast at a time, or published in a way, that does not suit someone who would otherwise be interested. But if you look at the web, you see that there is a global community of Irish speakers and
learners who are contributing their own efforts to media in the Irish language.”

As an experiment, last year Conn launched An tImeall, the first podcast in the Irish language. The project has been extremely successful, reaching a global audience. In March, the site was honoured for it’s use of Irish at the inaugural Irish Blog Awards.

In addition to the radio show and podcast, An Líonra Sóisialta will also have a daily feature in the Irish language newspaper . There’s also a website:  Over the next few weeks the site will grow and develop as it becomes the focus for audience participation.

And participation, Conn says, is the key. “These new forms of media make much less distinction between producer and consumer. An Líonra Sóisialta will encourage audience participation in every way possible: by phone, by text, by mail or by leaving a comment on the website.” The series has been planned to appeal to people with a wide range of abilities in Irish, and in particular, it has been designed to be suitable for use as discussion material for Irish classes at Transition Year level in Irish schools.

Conn will co-present the show with Fiona Ní Chéirín, a native of An Spidéal, Co. Galway, and a recent graduate of the multimedia degree programme at Tipperary Institute.

The series has been provisionally approved for funding under the “Sound and Vision” scheme operated by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland.

The 7 radio stations which have confirmed their participation in An Líonra Sóisialta are: Flirt FM in Galway, Raidio na Life in Dublin, Ocean FM (Sligo, North Leitrim, South Donegal), Clare FM, KCLR (Kilkenny and Carlow), Wired FM in Limerick, and Raidio Fáilte, Belfast’s new Irish language station which launched last week.

How to Spam Friends and (adversely) Influence People

September 23, 2006

Yesterday I was expaining to someone why the 900-word press-release I had written for the launch of An Líonra Sóisialta was so long: “I didn’t have time to write a short one!”*

I wish I’d taken the time to check the file sizes though.  Just before I sent it out, I decided to add pictures.  The pictures amounted to a few hundred KB – and were probably too big in themselves – but that was nothing compared to what happened when I embedded them in a MS Word document.

The resulting email, with pictures, plus bloated Word file, amounted to 5MB!

All things considered, people were nice about it really.  Michele and Cionaodh each took the trouble to make me a PDF of my document.  Some people on broadband didn’t even notice.  Some company email servers simply didn’t allow it through.

I can’t plead ignorance: I’ve been on the receiving end of a 56kbps download from a choked mailbox often enough in the past.  I do blame stress, and lack of sleep.

If you got mail from me on Thursday, it’s because you’re a friend of mine.  You read my blogs, or I read yours, or we’ve been in touch before because we share common interests.  I sent you that mail because I thought you’d be interested in it.   If you’ve got an audience, I hoped you’d think they would be interested in it.

I figured it would just show up in your mailbox, and, with an informative subject line, you’d give it whatever level of attention your interest warranted.  Instead however, it ended up drawing unwelcome attention to itself.

If my email caused you problems on Thursday, please accept my apology.  Mea Culpa.

* I know that’s paraphrasing something I’ve heard before.  Anybody know what it is?

Podsafe Music Appeal

September 19, 2006

An Líonra Sóisialta aims to spread the word about the exciting things happening on the net right now – and podsafe music is a major element of that.

Each one of the 59 episodes will showcase a piece of podsafe music. That’s a lot of music – and I could use your help.

Got a podsafe favourite you’d like to share with Irish radio listeners? Let me know! Leave a comment, or email

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

September 16, 2006

I’ve been too busy to blog.  And that was probably my biggest mistake!

When I first had the idea of An Líonra Sóisialta I wanted it to be a blogged project.  Do it all in the open.  Get the support and feedback of others.  I’ve seen how a blog thrives on this feedback, recycles it, re-uses it, feeds on it.  An Líonra Sóisialta is about the community – I want to produce it with the scrutiny and help of that community.

So what’s happened?  The good news is that An Líonra Sóisialta is still on track.  In fact there’s lots of good news – which I’ll get to in a moment!  But first: what went wrong?

I underestimated the work involved.  On the other hand, it’s probably fair to say that if I had been realistic about it I would never have taken the project on in the first place!  It’s not the production work (most of the first week’s material is recorded) but the administration work that has caught me out.  There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

I had originally planned to start the project on Monday 18th of September.  I could still do that, but I won’t.  I’ve put the show back by one week, in order to get all my ducks in a row!

You can take a peek at the building site over at AnLionra.Com.  I’m running a beta programme of “test transmissions”, so please do let me know if you have any problems downloading the podcasts, or subscribing to the feed.

The first podcast in the new series will show up on that feed on Monday 25th September.  Depending where you live, you can also choose to hear it on your radio!  Discussions with broadcasters are ongoing, but I’m delighted to be able to announce the following stations have confirmed their participation:

Finally, for now, huge thanks to Cionaodh for the An Líonra Sóisialta logo.  Nach deas é?

An Lïnra Sóisialta

Stay tuned for further credits.  This project is getting a lot of help, from a lot of people!

Over and Out! 🙂