With the recent landmark of SuttaCentral Voice v1.0.0 in place, for which, as others have voiced, many sadhus to @karl_lew, and to @Aminah and @sabbamitta for product development and testing, are in order, I was thinking about the future. We, dwellers in this far-flung corner of cyberspace called Discuss & Discover, are privileged to know how to press a few buttons to listen to the teachings of the Buddha on SCV. But most Buddhists and non-Buddhist do not.
That’s why I was thinking about an official SuttaCentral Podcast. This podcast could upload content from SuttaCentral Voice, and increase exposure of SuttaCentral, and with it, of the word of the Buddha. I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts on this idea. Some of my thoughts:
Are there any good reasons why we shouldn’t do this?
It will take work to maintain this podcast. I wouldn’t make this proposal without being prepared to do this myself.
With so much content available on SCV, how can we edit the source material into podcast episodes?
… does anyone actually have experience with creating podcasts?
EDIT: My intention is only to create a podcast that broadcasts suttas, and their relevant translations; not to be a commentary on the suttas. The purpose of which is increasing SuttaCentral’s exposure.
I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a podcast dedicated to discussing Buddhist texts. Something like “Partially examined life” (a philosophy podcast) but instead of western philosophical texts, we discuss suttas (“suttacast”?)
Skype can record calls. There are many free audio editors out there.
That would be a nice idea as well. However, my idea for a SuttaCentral podcast was to exclusively broadcast suttas, with only some minimal meta-information, just like SuttaCentral Voice does. I’ll edit my original post to clarify my intent.
Increasing exposure. Compare with the two BSWA podcasts (Buddhist Society of Western Australia and Deeper Dhamma). Even though they just repeat content from YouTube, they generate a lot of exposure for the BSWA: together they have generated more than 5.7 million downloads!
It is a wonderful idea @Robbie and one that has already come up (skip to the podcast section):
This ticket was closed as the bulk of the ambition here was met and coming towards the end of the current development cycle with the team we’ve engaged there was a need to draw a line.
However, I recall that when this idea was first discussed (way before any of that) the general understanding was that RSS technology should be pretty straightforward (especially if there is someone to help as you’ve kindly offered, also there may—at least then, I’m not sure about now—be someone else who’s interested in helping with this).
Bhante @sujato perhaps I could make a new ticket for this for us to pickup after things have wrapped up with STX?
Absolutely, this would be fantastic. Please make a ticket for it.
Now, I know nothing about the podcast world, the tech or the user side of it, so I will be 100% dependent on the advice of others. But I have been told that setting up a podcast is pretty simple. So I’m hoing that it’s something a volunteer can do, with support from our tech side of course.
The only thing that I’d say to bear in mind is that we keep in mind the SC philosophy:
Maybe it’s a bit OTT, but for now at least I’ve made an overarching epic and a research ticket to kick things off:
As noted the outcome should be an agreed plan of action for setting up a podcast following all due research. @Robbie, by your OP is it safe to assume you’re willing to take this on?
I know something about the user side of it; it’s really been one of the gifts of having sleeping issues. It was described in the original ticket as basically just being a stream for MP3s, and while technically true enough, I think this kinda misses the really beautiful potential of this medium. I’ve accidentally been drawn into Podcastland and have seen how rich, personal and engaging it can be (there are some really quality production companies out there, and by ‘quality’ I don’t just mean have good sound engineers, I mean have values and something substantive to offer). I’d sooner describe it as Radio 2.0 than mp3+. As I understand it folks (as in media companies and advertisers and such) are now starting to get wise to what an important avenue podcasting may be.
The start small, build up principle is always one I’ve been a massive, massive fan of; I’m just saying, I think there’s a lot of scope on the ‘building up’ side and there’s no harm in recognising that early on.
Well that is great, what we need is someone on our team who understands how it works. Getting the technical stuff set up should be easy, but figuring out the audience and the social side is where the thought and care needs to go. How about this: you give it some thought, and write up a strategy, post it here on D&D and we’ll see what the folks say.
Heeeey! You can’t go around undoing my fine delegating handiwork like that!
But, in fact, yes, I can get a bit passionate about podcasts both in terms of being a user and watching how that field (or at least a tiny sub-section of it) is developing, and I’d be delighted to input. But perhaps I’ll first wait for @Robbie’s thoughts.
I haven’t really listened to many of their offerings, but early episodes of Start Up—their first offering, before they new they would survive—documents a guy (ex public radio chap) trying to start up his new Podcast company, and goes some way to giving an account of why the space is interesting / what can be done with it / the potential he has seen.
Then less on the ‘company’ side, but just a couple of things that I’ve found can be engaging (and also interest me with respect to why I think they’re engaging hint: it’s not necessarily about production values, but people sharing what they love and being thoughtful about what they do, the world around them etc and setting up a good conditions for conveying that).
Then just a random episode that stuck in my mind of a podcast I’ve only listened to once:
Episode 656: Why Management History Needs to Reckon with Slavery
And well this is I guess just my final admission that I have some issues, but I can’t help it, I love it:
I trust you’ll take this as more or less a 5sec scribble that I’m not expecting to make a great deal of sense, but it is on the back of listening to things like these and a bunch of others (I didn’t even mentioned the awful ones which are also valuable reflection material when considering the components of something that works well) that some general ideas can be extracted.
If I’ve done it right you should have been sent an invitation. I’ll add you to the relevant tickets once accepted.
Well, it’s certainly an intro. There’d be many others. Including ones that maybe aren’t so USA centric. Funnily enough, I think I first only started listening to podcasts to get BBC Radio 4 content when I wanted it. That’s a different type of podcasting, much more along the lines of the streamed mp3 idea. I think it’s a very broad space in which a whole bunch of things happen.
Today I listened to a lot of podcasts, which gave me some thoughts on the SuttaCentral Podcast (SCP). I’ll first share my ideas here to get some feedback, Monday the 28th i’ll get to the tickets.
The best podcasts feel energetic and strike a balance between arousing curiosity and satisfying it. The listener feels like they are around friends, who have interesting stories to tell. I’d like to soak the SuttaCentral Podcast in these qualities as well. That’s why I’d recommend waiting until we have human-narrated audios. Even though Amy, Raveena, and Russell are amazing—I love listening to them—I believe a podcast needs human voices. @Viveka, is this something you’re working on?
With regard to structuring the actual podcast episodes, I also have a few thoughts. I’d like to keep the music to a minimum so that people who keep eight or more precepts won’t have to feel uncomfortable to tune in. Optionally we could use a gong sound, like SuttaCentral Voice (SCV). Then a short introduction to the sutta/suttas/vagga at hand, followed by a live or prerecorded narration of the sutta/suttas/vagga. Perhaps we might address sutta parallels afterward; giving some more depth for those interested–while keeping commentary on the sutta to a minimum. And then finish with a simple ‘thank you for listening’ message. Maybe 18-25 min total/episode.
With regard to sutta/vagga selection: I envision loosely following the structure of the Pali canon, without dogmatic adherence. Episodes could also be grouped in larger wholes, for example, episodes on the Middle Discourses, perhaps in three “seasons.” I like the idea of publishing one episode per day, like the BSWA podcast. But maybe just start out with one episode/week.
It would be amazing to use Ven @yodha’s artwork for the icons of sutta episodes. I’m thinking of using one doodle for each larger whole of episodes, analogous to how @Gus used one drawing for the first volume of the Middle Discourses, and another for the second volume.
I’m leaving the question of podcast client and audio software selection open. Just for illustration purposes, I have created one sample episode with Podbean. Unfortunately, Podbean is not free (I think the BSWA uses the premium version). However, the free version is pretty good. This test episode consists only of an mp3 downloaded from SCV. In a way, i like the rawness of it, but i don’t think it would work well with a broader audience… Don’t worry about the web address; the SuttaCentral Podcast will get its own.
Some concluding remarks…
Everything I have proposed here is up for debate. Please share your ideas and suggestions!
I’m not a native English speaker myself, so for the introductions and thank you message I’d need some help.
Sorry, I haven’t read the rest yet, and I can’t give it anything more than the quickest skim just this minute, but really, you’ve nailed it in just this sentence. It gives me the warm and fuzzes to read that you hear these qualities too.
Thanks so much for the magnificent work you’ve put into this, I can’t wait to have a more leisurely read.
That’s great to hear. Just so you know, I haven’t forgotten! In fact I have made some inquiries about getting a mic, and we may have one here soon. We’ll see how that goes and see about getting one for you, too.
I’m thinking of doing some recordings myself. Reading my own translations is really useful, you get a feel for the cadence of it.
It sounds like the best thing to do with the podcasts will be to have a single session, reading and introducing the sutta.
That sounds fine.
I’m sure she’d be happy to do this.
Remember, we have our own SC theme music, from the Vimeo video. We can use this, or get it remixed.
So how does this work? When you make a podcast, does it go over a “channel”? Do only some clients work with it, or all of them? How are things discovered?
Should the timing be consistent, or should we follow the sutta? The basic issue is that SC itself is strongly structured around the sutta as an entity. If we start doing things like breaking up a long sutta into several sessions, or combining short suttas into one, we make the integration with SC or SCV bucketloads harder. Perhaps we should start by choosing suttas of about 20 minutes reading time, and worry about the length problem later.