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This American Life Episode Selection [en]

This American Life Episode Selection [en]

[fr] Quelques épisodes de This American Life qui valent le détour.

I had my worst “forgot something on the stove” episode today. No fire, but I came back after three hours away to find my flat completely filled with smoke. I had to hold my breath to open the windows (everything was closed). My pan is dead (I’m not even going to try). Quintus was outside but Tounsi was inside, and was exposed to the smoke for all that time. One of the first things I did after opening the first window was throw him onto the balcony. He seems fine. Vet say to keep an eye on him for the next two days or so, as symptoms can be delayed.

Now my whole flat stinks of burnt smoke. Good thing it’s not January, as a friend noted.

Some podcast episodes for you. (And me, maybe one day). They are from This American Life, which I listened to a lot at the chalet. It’s really great — I should have started listening years ago.

  • #536: The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra: a chilling first-person account of the culture of complacency in the world of finance regulation.
  • #525: Call for Help: remember this story that was making the rounds, about a family that had to be rescued at sea because of a sick baby? and how a lot of the (uninformed) public opinion was up in arms about how irresponsible it was to go to sea with a baby, and then ask the coast guards to bail you out when things got rough? Well, as you can guess, there is much more to the story than that…
  • #555: The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind: so, one of the studies this episode is based on has been retracted, but it remains interesting. First, to note that people rarely change their mind, particularly on ideological matters. And then, and this is something I think about a lot, what makes people change their mind? We do have anecdotal evidence that knowing somebody who is gay (or trans, or kinky…) can turn us around on those issues. And I think that people’s theoretical stance on an issue can be somewhat disconnected from what they would think, or how they would react, faced with a real human being they have a connection with and who is concerned by the issue.
  • #556: Same Bed, Different Dreams: for the very moving story of the two kidnapped South Koreans, the actress and the director.
  • #557: Birds & Bees: how do we talk to children about race, death, and sex? Some very good questions about consent and its “fuzziness” (I personally don’t think we should have to say “is it OK if I kiss you?” and wait for an enthusiastic verbal “yes” — seriously?!), how you can’t escape the question of race, and a moving segment on a grief counselling centre for children. If I could go back in time, I would take my 10-year-old self there. Sadly, we weren’t quite there yet 30 years ago when it comes to grief and children.
    By the way, this episode brings me to Death, Sex & Money — a podcast about all these things we don’t talk about.
  • #562 and #563: The Problem We All Live With (two parts): how do we reinvent education to get poor minority kids to perform as well as white kids? An exploration of the solution that works, but that we’re not putting much energy into implementing: desegregation. I found this episode both fascinating and infuriating. Fascinating because issues of race are not on the forefront in Switzerland as they are in the US, and infuriating that such a simple elegant solution is not given the attention and resources it deserves.

 

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Stories to Listen to, Moderating Blog Comments, Teaching Blogging [en]

Stories to Listen to, Moderating Blog Comments, Teaching Blogging [en]

[fr] Deux ou trois épisodes de podcasts à écouter. Quelques réflexions sur les commentaires de blog (spam ou non?) et la difficulté d'apprendre à bloguer.

Listen to Greetings from Coney Island. I swear you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t make the same mistake I did, and be a bit distracted early on, not realising there are two parallel stories, told by two women with (to me) very similar voices. I actually reached the end of the story before realising I had missed the whole point, so I listened to it all again. It was worth it.

vue cham

Another episode of Love+Radio reminded me of a Moth story I heard quite a long time ago now. It’s about a volunteer at a suicide prevention hotline. That story made me understand something about suicide (which I am lucky not to know from the inside): it’s not about wanting to die, it’s about wanting the pain to stop. Like many Moth stories, it’s beautifully told and very moving. Well worth the small moment of your life you will spend listening to it.

I know, this blog is turning into a podcast review. But not only. See.

One of the challenges I face as editor-in-chief of Open Ears is approving comments. Not so much because we publish controversial articles that have people biting each other’s heads off in the comments (not at all, actually), but more because

  1. spambots are getting better and better at sounding human
  2. some humans are sounding more and more like spambots.

About the latter: people like me have been saying for years that a great way to get your website or blog known is to comment on other blogs. But that’s not quite the whole story. Aligning fluffy or self-promotional comments on other people’s blogs might get your “nofollowed” links out there, but isn’t really going to do what matters, which is encouraging people to actually know you and read your stuff because they’re interested. Clicks and visits only really mean anything if they come from the heart.

So what does work? Well, actually, being a valued member of the communities you are part of. At the time, during the Golden Age of Blogging, leaving meaningful comments on blogs you read and linked to was a way of being that. It’s not about the links, it’s about the place you respectfully take or are given willingly. Add value. Be helpful. Try and make friends. That’s the spirit of “leaving comments”.

Which brings me to an important piece of blogging advice I came up with while trying to teach my latest batch of students the basics of blogging (it was, to put it kindly, a mixed success): blog about stuff that’s in your head. Write about what you know. If you have to google around to factcheck this or that, find a link, or look up a detail, that’s fine. But if you find yourself doing research and reading up to gather the material for your blog post (and the post is not about your research), chances are you’re “doing it wrong”.

Blogging is this weird thing which as at the same time so easy (for “natural bloggers”) but so hard to learn or teach. I think that is because it touches upon “being” more than “doing”. It’s about daring a certain degree of authenticity that we are not encouraged to wear in our school or professional lives. And it’s definitely not how we learn to write. In a way, teaching blogging is a bit like trying to teach people to dare to be themselves in public. This makes you think of Brené Brown and vulnerability, does it not? Exactly. And that is why, I think, blogging is a powerful tool to connect people.

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Invisibilia: A Podcast About the Hidden Forces That Shape our Behaviour [en]

Invisibilia: A Podcast About the Hidden Forces That Shape our Behaviour [en]

[fr] Un super podcast à découvrir: Invisibilia. Ça parle des forces invisibles qui conditionnent le comportement humain. Et c'est super bien fait. Quelques histoires pour démarrer: l'homme aveugle (sans yeux) qui voit par écholocalisation et fait du vélo, la femme qui ressent physiquement ce qui arrive à ceux autour d'elle (un cas extrême de "synesthésie miroir"), le rapport entre nos pensées et qui nous sommes (sommes-nous nos pensées? quelle importance leur accorder?), et j'en passe.

I thought I’d written a post somewhere introducing the podcasts I listen to regularly. I don’t watch TV, but I do listen to a bunch of podcasts religiously: Radiolab, On The Media, The Savage Lovecast, and The Moth. Serial was great, too.

Through Radiolab, I recently discovered the new show Invisibilia. It’s actually co-hosted by one of Radiolab’s former producers, and there is clearly in the choice of subject matter a kinship with what drew me to Radiolab in the first place all these years ago.

Invisibilia is about the stuff that we can’t see and which shapes human behaviour. In the pilot season, you’ll find stories about a blind man who can actually see by using echolocation, a woman who cannot feel fear, and Paige, tragically flipping through gender categories. And that’s just the beginning. Subscribe to the podcast and start listening.

Here’s a bunch of random takeaways for me after listening to the first episodes:

  • the three “stages” in the history of our thoughts: 1) all thoughts are meaningful (Freud), 2) some thoughts are BS and we can think ourselves out of them (CBT), 3) our thoughts don’t deserve that much attention (mindfulness)
  • how important categories are in helping us make sense of the world (I kind of knew that); reminded me of India again and the utter confusion of the first weeks where all my European categories broke down, and I didn’t have any Indian ones yet to work with
  • how gently facing one’s fears works much better in getting rid of them than obsessing about them and trying to avoid their object
  • how important our expectations of what people can do are in determining what they actually are going to be capable of doing (“blind people can’t do that“)
  • venting when angry, whilst therapeutic in the moment, actually makes us more angry and aggressive in the long run

Sound interesting? Check out the list of the previous episodes. If you start listening, let me know!

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Non, ce n'est pas un podcast, ça [fr]

Non, ce n'est pas un podcast, ça [fr]

A l’occasion de mon workshop dans le cadre de Pollens Pédagogiques, j’ai réalisé qu’il n’était pas inutile de rappeler ce qu’est et n’est pas un podcast.

En effet, dans le “langage courant”, on entend beaucoup le mot “podcast” utilisé pour faire référence “du contenu audio ou vidéo qu’on peut télécharger”.

Un podcast, ce n’est pas ça. Ce n’est pas juste “une vidéo en ligne”.

Un podcast, c’est l’équivalent audio ou vidéo du blog. (Avec le programme blogueurs de Solar Impulse, en passant, j’ai aussi réalisé à quel point il n’est absolument pas clair pour la majorité du public ce qu’est… un blog.)

Alors un blog, c’est… une succession d’articles organisés anti-chronologiquement.

Un blog est généralement disponible en HTML (ce que vous lisez peut-être en ce moment) et en RSS, format de publication que vous ne remarquez pas sauf si vous utilisez un lecteur de news, et qui vous permet de vous abonner au blog.

Un podcast, à la base, c’est un fil (flux) RSS dont le contenu n’est pas du texte, mais de l’audio ou de la vidéo. C’est une évolution de ce qu’on appelait à l’époque “l’audioblogging”. Ce qu’ajoutait le podcast, c’était l’inclusion dans le fil RSS du contenu “riche” (audio/vidéo) et l’automatisation (initialement à l’aide de scripts, puis via iTunes) qui permettait aux épisodes du podcast de se retrouver directement sur l’iPod de l’auditeur (d’où le nom podcasting).

J’ai en passant suivi l’histoire de la naissance du podcasting d’assez près à l’époque: fin 2003, mon ami Kevin Marks étant justement la personne à avoir fait la démonstration d’un script qui copiait automatiquement le contenu audio lié à un fil RSS vers iTunes, et donc vers un iPod. (J’adore quand le web nous permet de revivre l’histoire en direct, pas vous? Voici un extrait vidéo de la démo de Kevin.)

Donc, un podcast, c’est un blog dont le contenu n’est pas des articles composés de texte et de photos, mais d’épisodes audio ou vidéo.

Je me demande, en écrivant ça, si l’abus de langage qui nomme une “vidéo sur internet” un podcast n’est pas simplement le même que celui (bien trop répandu) qui nomme malencontreusement “blog” une publication isolée sur un blog, au lieu de “article” ou “post” ou “billet”. Ça ne viendrait à l’esprit de personne d’appeler “magazine” un article de magazine (on réserve ce nom pour l’ensemble des articles) ou “livre” une page dans un livre, pourtant.

Donc:

  • un livre est composé de pages
  • un magazine est composé d’articles
  • un podcast est composé d’épisodes (de podcast)
  • un blog est composé de billets, d’articles (de blog), de posts

Happy blogging and podcasting!

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On The Media: Hyperlocal and Numbers [en]

On The Media: Hyperlocal and Numbers [en]

[fr] Trois sujets à écouter sur On The Media: un sur le journalisme hyperlocal (qui me fait penser au Bondy Blog -- d'ailleurs, pourquoi a-t-on le Lausanne Bondy Blog et non le Renens Bondy Blog? mystère...), et deux sur l'abus de chiffres dans les médias et le chiffre magique 50'000.

I’ve started catching up with my On The Media backlog. Here are two pieces I suggest you listen to.

Is Hyperlocal the Future of News?

This reminds me of Bondy Blog. Started by a bunch of Swiss journalists covering civil unrest around Paris in 2005 from the Paris suburbs themselves, it has since then been handed over to young local reporters. Bondy Blogs have sprouted since then in various cities, including Lausanne and Vernier — though I remain convinced that the Lausanne Bondy Blog should be the Lausanne Bondy Blog at all, but the Renens Bondy Blog. Isn’t it about putting the local spotlight on the underpriviledged suburbs?

Are Bondy Blogs hyperlocal?

Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts followed by Prime Number

You probably know my distaste for numbers and our obsession with metrics (including in the media, which is the topic of these two pieces). Refresher: my rant about un-scientific Twitter metrics, fan-quoting Seth Godin, and Suw‘s heartily recommended “Metrics” series: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. (I’m not dead against analytics, though. Just cautious.)

Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict is a book, and it’s now in my Amazon shopping basket.

Enjoy!

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On The Media: Discovering a New Podcast I Like [en]

On The Media: Discovering a New Podcast I Like [en]

[fr] Deux podcasts en anglais que je recommande chaudement: RadioLab, une émission scientifique, et On The Media, une émission sur les médias.

You may or may not know that my number one podcast and radio show love is RadioLab. It’s an incredibly smart and funny science programme, and I’ve finally worked through the whole backlog of episodes I had sitting on my iPhone. That’s a lot of hours of listening (and pedaling on my exercise bike in the morning, which is where I do most of my podcast listening).

If you are not listening to RadioLab yet, trust me — subscribe in iTunes right now, you won’t regret it.

The problem I have now is that I’ve run out of RadioLab episodes to listen to, and they “only” air a new episode every two weeks. For somebody who aims to spend 30 minutes a day pedaling on a bike going nowhere with interesting talk stuff in her ears, well, that leaves quite a few hours a week to fill in. Enter On The Media, a one-hour weekly show about… yeah, you guessed, the media (and related things).

I discovered On The Media because I was pointed to their episode Facing the (Free) Music, about the music industry and the internet, you know. I thought it was very good. Actually, you might want to download the MP3 directly or even stop reading and listen right here.

I’ve listened to a couple of other episodes so far and would like to highlight a few pieces I particularly liked. You can even read the transcripts by clicking on the links below if you don’t feel like listening.

Take For Granted [download] is about the reactions to the possibility that news services could be subsidized by state grants. I found it interesting, because I don’t think we have this prejudice against government-subsidized news here. Quite on the contrary, I would tend to consider a state-funded radio or TV station as more likely to be high quality than a private one. I think there is a cultural issue here — but maybe I’m just naive. If news has never been a commercially viable product, then it needs to be funded, and I’d rather have the state behind it rather than big corporations.

News Ex Machina [download] is about Demand Media (heard of them? I hadn’t) and the way they work to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) content producers online. Here’s a brief summary of how they do it: monitor search keywords; figure out if there is already a lot of content for them (bad); figure out if there is a lot of demand to advertise targeted on them (good); search for other keywords frequently used in combination with those top keywords; bring in a human being to create a headline out of those words; bring in another human being to write an article based on that headline. I know why this chills my spine: because it’s not content creation anymore, it’s pure SEO. It’s keyword stuffing at such a level that the whole content is just stuffing. Sure, one can argue that it is providing searchers with what they’re looking for — but maybe, sometimes, there is something to be said with not finding what you want, and finding something else instead. (Cue A Perfect Mess riff.)

Shot of Fear [download] is a good example of what happens when we mistake correlation for causation, and once the cat is out of the bag, it’s hard to stuff it back in. (“Girl dies of unrelated heart condition” doesn’t stand a chance once “Girl dies after taking vaccine” is doing the rounds.)

Infant Mortality [download] is a walk through history to look at the occasions “baby killer” was used to discredit adversaries (and not only on abortion issues). And what it means when you brand somebody as a “baby killer”.

Star Search [download] is about star ratings, and how these are always way too positive (they average around 4.3 stars out of 5). Interesting to know, given how ubiquitous this type of rating is!

Happy listening!

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Gérer sa réputation numérique [fr]

Gérer sa réputation numérique [fr]

[en] Online reputation management: know what people are saying about you, and concentrate on putting yourself out there in a good (honest) light rather than getting stuff pulled down and risking the Streisand Effect. This is exactly what Anil Dash explained on his blog many years ago in "Privacy through identity control".

En allant faire un saut à la boulangerie du coin, iPhone sur les oreilles, le hasard de la playliste aléatoire m’a permis d’écouter “La mauvaise réputation“, épisode de l’émission RSR1 “On en parle” que j’avais téléchargé il y a une semaine environ.

Eh bien, même si par moments j’ai un peu grincé des dents face à l’approche un peu “contrôler sa réputation” de certaines parties de l’émission, et au fait qu’on insistait un peu beaucoup sur comment savoir ce qui est dit de nous, mais pas tellement sur “et bon ensuite, on en fait quoi?”, les conclusions sont tout à fait bonnes. Je vous encourage donc à écouter l’émission (surtout la fin!) si ce sujet vous intéresse.

En résumé:

  • ayez une présence internet, et utilisez-la pour être proactifs par rapport à ce qu’on peut trouver sur vous en ligne (en termes moins élégants: ça peut aider à “noyer le poisson” ou tout au moins, équilibrer un peu le message si des choses négatives sont publiées sur vous)
  • gardez un oeil sur ce qui est publié à votre sujet (Google, alertes, Technorati, abonnements, ou même entreprise spécialisée)
  • il y a des moyens de faire retirer des contenus, mais attention: ils vont resurgir ailleurs, et risque de Streisand effect
  • tenter d’éviter le problème en faisant l’autruche et en restant aussi loin d’internet que possible, c’est donner le contrôle total de votre réputation numérique à autrui!

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Suw and Steph Q&A Session on Seesmic [en]

Suw and Steph Q&A Session on Seesmic [en]

[fr] Sur seesmic, Suw et moi-même répondons à vos questions!

Interviewed About Multilingualism by Andrea Vascellari [en]

Interviewed About Multilingualism by Andrea Vascellari [en]

[fr] Une interview qui date de novembre, mais que je ne regarde qu'aujourd'hui (à ma grande honte). Andrea Vascellari m'a attrapée à Berlin lors de Web2.0Expo, et m'a interviewée sur les questions de multilinguisme en ligne que j'affectionne. Il a ajouté au début une petite partie sur Going Solo, donc si vous avez déjà vu mon discours donné à LIFT, sautez sans arrière-pensée les premières trois minutes de la vidéo. La suite est nouvelle, je vous rassure!

At Web2.0Expo in Berlin, last November, I met [Andrea Vascellari](http://media.vascellari.com/?page_id=2). He’s Italian, lives in Finland, and does a regular video podcast on [Vascellari Media Channel — VMC](http://media.vascellari.com/). I was [speaking on multilingualism at Web2Open](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/05/reminder-speaking-tuesday-at-web2open-berlin/), so we sat down in a corridor (we thought it would be nice and quiet, but we picked a spot just near… the loo/bathroom/restroom/toilets) for a little chat on the topic of [languages online](/focus/multilingual).

Upon editing, Andrea added a few words about [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net) and inserted my [speech](http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8270350768335569204) about it — so if you already saw [the LIFT08 speech](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/02/07/lift08-my-going-solo-open-stage-speech/), feel free to skip the first 3-4 minutes. There’s a whole bunch of new material waiting for you after it.

[VMC #30, where Andrea introduces Going Solo and makes me talk about multilingualism online](http://media.vascellari.com/?p=46). Andrea clearly knows the art of making his guest look good — thanks a lot!

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Lunch at Seesmic [en]

Lunch at Seesmic [en]

[fr] Apparition dans le Seesmic du Jour suite à mon passage dans les bureaux de la startup de Loïc Le Meur hier. Je passe les commentaires sur mon accent vaudois... 😉

I was invited to drop in at the [Seesmic](http://seesmic.com/) offices yesterday for lunch and a chat. Lunch was really nice — sushi in a place where you can tell the chef to serve you what he wants. My dream come true! We need more restaurants like that. Where we don’t need to choose what we eat.

But anyway. Over lunch, Loïc was mentioning that his e-mail had become unmanageable, and that the only way he actually managed to deal with “stuff” was to do things immediately, when he thought of them. There’s something to be said for that — I’ve been doing it more and more with e-mail myself. Anyway, poor Loïc seemed swamped (and Vinvin chimed in with similar feelings), so I asked if they’d heard of/read [Getting Things Done](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done). Yes, they’d heard about it, but had never really investigated.

I heard about GTD for a year before actually heading over to [43 Folders](http://www.43folders.com/), reading up, and ordering the book. Many people had sung the praises of Getting Things Done to me, but I kept thinking “just another over-hyped magical self-help productivity solve-all-your-problems snake-oil method”. I guess one person too much told me about it, and once I read the book, I really kicked myself for not doing it earlier. [It’s changed my life](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/11/getting-things-done-its-just-about-stress/), even though I keep falling off the GTD wagon — but one nice thing about it is that it’s a *forgiving* system.

It takes a certain amount of commitment to learn and get on (if you’re not commited enough to read the book, fuggedaboudit), but once it’s in place, it’s not that hard to get back on when you fall off. In my opinion, it can also be beneficial even if [imperfectly implemented](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/08/21/bridging-the-gap-between-me-and-orthodox-gtd/) (which is my case: I have an overflowing inbox, my lists aren’t up-to-date, and I never really managed to get the daily/weekly/monthly review thing going — but I strive towards that).

So anyway, Loïc immediately decided he was going to have me talk about GTD on the [daily Loic.tv show](http://www.loic.tv/). Here we are, then, me trying to actually get some information across (not easy with the two French clowns) in [Seesmic du Jour 107](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MwGxSFLeLU):

I got to say a few words about [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net) too, which was nice 🙂

Unfortunately they left out the bit where I hit Loïc on the head with my teaspoon, and nearly whacked him with my MacBook. He spent his whole time interrupting me, and then complaining that I wasn’t saying anything! I actually got him to leave the table so I could say a few words about Going Solo with a reasonably straight face…

Thanks for the invitation!

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