Being a content producer ain’t always easy

Picture of a crumpled, batter book left outside, by penelopejonzeDon’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Opportunities abound for everyone to create and share creative and serious work online. Here we all come, as the saying goes.

Yet, it’s not always easy.

I’ll give you a real life example from last night.

In a bit of an experiment (cos I’m that sort of guy), I decided to add audio to a presentation of mine available on SlideShare. In May I gave a lecture to Visual Communication Design masters students at Massey University on the august topic of the “Future of the book”.

My starting point was as a common, garden reader talking about where reading fits in my life, blurring boundaries between being a producer and consumers, and what really is a book.

When I sat down at my computer last night, my slides were already uploaded to slideshare. All I had to do was transfer the recording from my dictaphone to create something they call a slidecast. Simple, huh?

After two and a half hours of expletives and wild swipes at my (inanimate) screen I eventually got there. This is what the real web is like, not the airbrushed version you’ll see in ads for apps.

Here’s a brief outline of what I went through:

  1. Dictaphone storage drive is not appearing in the finder after I plug it in via USB port – it normally pops up straight away.
  2. Hmmmm, maybe I need special software for Mac OS version 10.7.
  3. Find and install Olympus’ Digital Speech Standard (DSS) software.
  4. Oh, a serial number is needed for the software to work.
  5. Search for the box, find serial and enter it.
  6. The drive is still not appearing.
  7. Strange error message pops up when I remove the USB cable.
  8. Time to dive into the help forums.
  9. Try various restarts and key combinations.
  10. Still no joy.
  11. Try swapping cables. Brilliant!! I can now see and transfer the .wma files.
  12. Upload the file to iTunes as AIF, then convert to MP3.
  13. At least an hour has elapsed.
  14. Time to import the file into SlideShare. It takes five minutes of fluffing around.
  15. As it’s the first time I’m using their browser based audio editor, it takes a while to make the manual adjustments so that the audio plays with the right slides.
  16. Argh… the editor keeps freezing!!! I find a work around which involves quitting Firefox, reopening the browser and waiting for the full audio file to reload.
  17. Very slow to buffer after refresh and editing is fiddly.
  18. Finally, DONE – it’s 11.06pm.

Okay, so I skipped a few steps, but I’m sure you get the idea.

In detailing all this, I’m not saying that what slideshare offer isn’t user friendly. But I am saying the process of uploading was agonising and not terribly creative in itself. It took some willpower to persevere to the end.

Using any new online publishing tool tends to involve a similar amount of wrestling formats, fiddly interfaces and delays. I could easily write a couple of other blog posts about this in relation to video codecs (argh!!!).

While the opportunity to share and be creative definitely exists, it’s not without hurdles. I wonder how others surmount these types of barriers, or if it’s all too much?

PS My “Future of the book” slidecast is now online with audio. A list of publication, links, etc I referred to are also available.

Photo credit: penelopejonze