måndag 26 september 2011

Is the Internet sustainable?

I've been exploring the idea of how to explore this idea ("Is the Internet sustainable?") for the better part of a year - ever since I wrote and presented the paper "Ubiquitous information in a world of limitations" at the NordForsk event (seminar, conference) "The culture of ubiquitous information" in Copenhagen last October.

I gave a presentation at Södertörn University last week. This is it - after before having hedged my bets and carefully threaded my way around sensitive words and concepts, the invitation to this seminar was more straight-forward and hard-hitting that I have previously allowed myself to be:

Abstract: How can a passion for the Internet and all the wonders it has brought us during the last decades be combined with a dawning realization that our current lifestyles are not really sustainable? Are we "fiddling while Rome burns down" when we obsess about the latest gadgets, the latest services and the latest trends on our way to a (perceived) future techno-utopian computer-mediated hive-mind Singularity? While we live in a world of possibilities, we also live in a world where severe limitations in terms of energy, economy and ecology (the "triple crisis") are making themselves knows with increasing frequency and amplitude.
Daniel's talk is partly structured as a travelogue of how an "awakening" to ecological planetary limits can be combined with communications and media technology interests.

About: Daniel Pargman is an Assistant professor in Media Technology at KTH. He read copious amounts of future-oriented techno-utopian science fiction in his youth. A positively brilliant view of the future, with hopes that the colonization of space would begin in the span of his lifetime has over time gradually been tarnished and replaced by a realization that we have large problems to solve in our back yard before we direct our gaze to space.

The talk was, despite its grim contents, well received and generated an hour-long discussion as well as a 45 minutes long continued discussion with a handful of persons after the seminar was finished. I'm a little surprised by the lack of protests and dissent, despite the fact that the picture I present is very different from the business-as-usual scenarios that we are fed every day. I guess the European debt crisis and the Greek meltdown might have something to do with audiences' willingness to consider "disruptive" narratives of where we are, how we came here, and where we are heading?

I've also recently given talks about "Social media in higher education" (to students at the Master of Science in Engineering and of Education) in the project course "Learning and ICT" and "Digital media and collective action" (to students at the Master of Science in Urban Planning and Design) in the course "Urban Theory, Advanced course".

fredag 23 september 2011

Social reading

Friday last week I did something I seldom do. I went to listen to a master's thesis presentation where I was neither the advisor nor the examiner. I just saw the title of the thesis/presentation and thought it sounded interesting, and as it fit my schedule neatly I went to listen to Johannes Koch (previous student in a course of mine) present his master's thesis; "Social reading: A study of computer-supported literature-discussions". I haven't read the thesis, so this blog post is exclusively based on his presentation and the topic is the assumptions and ideas behind the thesis.

The history of e-books can be said to have started 1971, when Project Gutenberg kicked off. Many different devices and document formats (.pdf, .epub) have come (and some have gone), but the breakthrough came with the Amazon Kindle in 2007.

Johannes has worked at/for a small Danish company, riidr, and his task was to design a "social e-book reader" What he actually did was to design and build a prototype (pre-study of user needs --> design --> build prototype --> evaluate). I don't know if he has built a "social e-book reader" as much as a tool to share text annotations within a group. I have used a shared annotation tool myself (Diigo) for the specific purpose of sharing comments on evolving thesis drafts with a group of students.

Johannes reasoning went something like this; today everything moves to the web and becomes "social", so why not build a social e-book reader? Many activities that we formerly did alone, have now moved to the web and have become activities that we do together, so why not read books "socially"? It could be construed that while the act of reading is something we do in private, reading has at the same time always been a social activity; we have always discussed the books we read with our friends, so it is only natural to build a computer system that supports such an activity. What is great now (with e-books and e-book readers) is that both the text/book itself as well as the comments can inhabit the same space. We don't need to refer to things that are elsewhere in cumbersome ways (see page 293), but can link to them directly - "you can share your thoughts on the book as you read it" (Johannes). Johannes referred to Readmill - started by some of our (KTH/Media technology) students - but I don't enough to be able to tell how Johannes' ideas and Readmill's differ from each other.

In practice, Johannes had had his share of problems. He found informants at the site bokcirklar.se [book circles], but most people there were a little older and not necessarily very technologically sophisticated. He apparently had to spend a lot of time initially performing tech support for his informants... Up until this point in the presentation, I had wondered who is supposed to use this software tool and for what purposes and in what context. Only at this (late) point did I understand that the genre he had worked on was fiction. It would have been better had he clearly stated what specific problem he was trying to solve earlier in his presentation. Instead we got information about how a specific technical feature had been implemented (highlighting a sentence of text in an e-book) - a not uninteresting, but still rather minor detail in the larger whole.

I had the opportunity to ask questions after the presentation and they mostly concerned who was supposed to use the tool, in what context and how it's use was imagined. Is the idea that you will comments "whenever" - just after you've read a sentence of a paragraph, or is commenting something you are "supposed" to do after you have read a chapter?). I very much tried to understand the context of use as I think that reading and discussing a book/text differs a lot depending on what kind of text you read (course literature or fiction?), where and why you read it (to pass an exam or for your own pleasure?) and who you read it together with (people with which you have stable relationships or "anyone" on the Internet)? These issues were not very clear in the presentations, at least not initially, and had to be inferred.

My initial reaction when I heard the presentation was that my willingness to leave comments and the effort I would invest in these comments is not independent of, but rather embedded in the kind of relationship I have with those who will read the comments and my expectations of they reciprocating by providing comments of their own (and my belief in the first place that these are interesting people who will leave interesting comments that will "extend" my experience of the book in question - i.e. that there will be a net benefit for me to participate in this activity). Can it be satisfactory (or how satisfactory is it) to discuss a book independently of the social relations you have with those you discuss the book with?

If I was part of a tight-knit group that met once per month and we felt a "social e-book reader" was a good way to exchange comments in-between our meetings or to "extend" our conversations to an online space, I would probably have a go at it. But if the social e-book reader was rather a way to comment books and share these comments with "everyone", I probably would not bother. This is also the reason why I "tormented" Johannes with these kinds of questions several times. In the first kind of group, half the benefit of discussing books would be the heightened understanding of the text itself, and the other half would be the emerging common understanding not only of particular books, but also of (those specific) particular persons. Discussing books together, we might grow together in more than one sense. My concern is that decontextualized discussions about books on the Internet might turn into war-like arguments (not initially, but some time after the usage of such a tool would take off).

Another concern I have is that the possibility of leaving comments at any single moment might detract the reader from the process of reading itself. You need to concentrate and shut out the world when you read a text. But what will you concentrate on? The text, or, the comments you might write about the text you are reading right now? If you concentrate on the latter, won't that detract you from your reading experience, and won't your understanding of the book be impacted negatively - as well as the quality of your comments (like with any kind of multitasking)? This is a question that of course merits a study of its own of the actual habits of people who do social reading. But perhaps I worry too much, or even think to much.

Another related question has to do with the quality of the comments. I would presume that the more time, care and effort that goes into any endeavor, the better the resulting quality. So would hastily jotted down comments lack quality? I would presume so, but you could argue that it's better to have more comments from more people (albeit of a lower average quality) than to have fewer comments (or reviews only from bona fide literature critics). I would on the other hand not read 100 comments if only a handful would add something at all to my understanding of the text in question. For me it's a straightforward matter of comparing costs (time) and benefits (deepened understanding). Sometimes there's something to be said for exclusivity. KTH wouldn't be KTH if positively anyone could come here, rather than only the better-than-average students.

These musings make me think of the fact that everything that is technically possible is not necessarily desirable, and sometimes the simplest solutions (i.e. make reading "social" in the old-fashioned pre-computerized way) might the best. Johannes did however know from reading the log files that people didn't really interrupt their reading to leave a comment, but rather seemed to wait until they finished reading (perhaps waiting for the chapter or their reading session to end).

In the end I can think of different types of books (fiction - non-fiction - textbooks) and I can imagine that a social e-book reader would be more suitable for some types of texts and some contexts than for others. I think non-fiction, for example self-help books of different kinds would be a good genre to start with. No matter if you read a book about child upbringing, how to deal with you cocaine-snorting spouse, how to successfully negotiate a better salary or how to survive a psychopathic boss, the option to discuss these books and add your own comments and stories could truly extend the value of the book and heighten the (collective) reading experience.

The thesis itself seems to be solid but I haven't read it and this is not a text about the thesis, but rather about the very ideas behind the thesis. After the thesis has been published on the web, I will link to it.

onsdag 21 september 2011

What is radio?

I've already written about the course "Future of Media" and this year's theme which is "The future of radio / Radio of the future" in earlier blog posts (here and here). This is a note about some thought-provoking ideas presented by one of our guest lecturers, Daniel Johansson.

Daniel was a guest of ours already last year when the theme was "The future of music / Music of the future". His message then was powerful as he stated that we are undergoing a shift where we to a lesser extent are paying for a recording of music (a CD or an Itunes song) and to a larger extent are paying for the performance of music (a live concert, or a service like Spotify).

On Spotify, you pay a flat fee (100 SEK/month) and your money is divided and sent in different directions depending what you have listened to during that month. If you listen to 1000 different songs, your 100 SEK is divided into 1000 parts and sent in 1000 different directions. If 100 of those 1000 songs are Lady Gaga songs, Lady Gaga gets 10 of your 100 SEK. In reality, most of the money stays with the record company and all the Lady Gagas out there usually get a pittance (same is true for the composers), but let's call that an "accident" rather than the "essence" of this new way of distributing and paying for the music you actually listen to (rather than the music you own and can choose to listen to or not). We are thus moving from a copy paradigm to a streaming paradigm where music will work just like water or electricity. In some way and in some form, you pay for your usage.

Where revenue from analog distribution of music has fallen steeply in the last decade, revenue from digital distribution has risen steeply, but what had been gained by way of digital distribution does not make up for the losses in analog distribution, so there is less money in the music industries right now than what there was 10 years ago.

Daniel has since then consulted for Swedish Radio and could thus come back also this year and talk about music and radio. He had several different suggestions for what radio has been and what it is:

- Radio as a gadget, a radio set
- Radio as a companion, as comfort and a habit (turning on the radio each morning or in the car)
- Radio as availability, as a playlist or a feed that is always there for you
- Radio as a filtering mechanism (with editors doing the filtering/recommendation service)
- Radio as brands (radio stations)

What is radio? What is the "essence" of radio - rather than a historical "accident"? We may have believed that the essence of radio was the radio set 50 year ago, but the radio set has since been phased out/integrated into iPods and cell phones without radio-as-content disappearing, so what radio is (once-and-for-all) is debatable, or up for grabs.

Daniel's provocative suggestion is that the essence of radio in the age of Internet convergence and abundance is 1) a filtering mechanism that 2) is published (broadcasted in an earlier age). The essence of radio has for him thus become the function of someone making choices of what song to play next, and making those songs (or choices) available to others. According to this definition, a single individual can become a "radio station" and the title of his talk was actually "When everyone becomes a radio channel". His definition does presumably also answer the questions he himself posed before his lecture:
- Is "listening to a Spotify playlist recieved from the Sveriges Radio P3 API on Radiofy.se" radio or something else?
- Is "a video recording from the studio during a live show at Mix Megapol that is published on YouTube" radio or something else?

I'm not really finished thinking about this yet, but I did have a question for him. At an earlier lecture, we were presented with information about the music "output" from different Swedish radio stations. In last year (2010):
- Swedish Radio public service channel P3 played 13848 songs a total of 63549 times.
- Commercial radio channel Mix Megapol played 1461 songs a total of 100945 times.
- Commercial radio channel Rix played 559 songs a total of 114019 times.

As can be seen, Rix plays the same songs over and over again (the average song was played over 200 times!), while P3 plays the average song less than 5 times. Statistics such as these are right now the basis of reimbursing artists and composers (and the record companies and publishing houses that own the rights). In order to be able to reimburse artists and composers in a streaming radio paradigm, someone would have to have the same kind of detailed information not just about commercial radio stations, but about all radio stations and/or all listeners. The information about what is transmitted on "radio" (remember that everyone is/can be a radio channel), or what everyone listens to would have to exist somewhere. I asked about this as I found the concept slightly worrisome and creepy. Daniel's answer is that this information already exists - Spotify has the information about what every single person listens to and it is the basis of reimbursing musicians and composers (and everyone else who wants a piece of the action).

Daniel's lecture raised a lot of questions that are unanswered right now. Perhaps some of them will be explored by my students in the course? Who takes "responsibility" for the content? In a world of active listeners, every listener puts a lot of time into selecting what song to listen to next, or what playlist or radio channel to listen to. But can everyone be an active listener? If everyone is busy making choices and being a radio channel, who are the listeners? Does not a "radio channel" imply that it has listeners (plural), and that some listeners will continue to be rather passive? Don't some people want to hand over the responsibility to filter/edit to someone else? I mean, not everyone can have as a hobby to spend time and make choices about what song to listen to next, right?

I made a connection to my RSS reader that collects "news" from lots of blogs and other sources on the Internet. Is this a newspaper? "Yes" says Daniel, but only if I make this "newspaper" available to others. If I "publish" it ("Daniel's selection of news"), then it becomes a newspaper. One could (again) ask if it is a newspaper even if it has no "subscribers"? This all makes my head spin. While the ideas are intriguing, it feels like they raise as many (or more) questions than they answer... I guess that's where we're at right now. Hopefully I will have a better grip on things after the course and the students' projects are finished at Christmas.

söndag 18 september 2011

Books I've read lately

"Books I've read recently" is a recurring topic and here is the previous blog post (same topic, different books). I actually read most of the books below before the summer, but I like to gather some books together in these blog posts and for some reason it took a couple of months to read the last 25 pages of one of the books below. All three books below are books that I have owned for some time, but for one or another reason have not come around to read until now.

T. L. Taylor is an acquaintance of mine, I think we met at a conference in Australia in 2003 for the first time. She present results that has afterwards been incorporated into her ethnography of the massively multiplayer online game Everquest, "Play between worlds: Exploring online game culture" (2006). Five years is a long time and the position of the one-time king-of-the-hill Everquest has long ago been usurped by World of Warcraft and other more modern games. Fortunately, that doesn't matter much as the book focuses on people (players, gamers) and their behaviors, rather than on the technology itself. It is right up my alley and I very much like the perspectives she presents in her book, including how she attends an Everquest convention, the description of networks of relationships spanning and tying together both the online (game) and the offline (real-life) worlds, on the instrumental play of power gamers and raiding/uber guilds, on women gamers and on combining the dual roles of being a player as well as a researcher.

Malcolm Gladwell's "The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference" (2000) is one of those popular science/pop culture books that you just have to have read (much like Levitt and Dubner's "Freakonomics" or Anderson's "The long tail"). I had high hopes, but feel that the book didn't live up to these. Trying to transfer characteristics of medical epidemics into the world of trends and ideas, the book is supposed to explain how small changes (can) have big effects, but to me it just didn't come together, but rather came out as a muddle of half-baked ideas, bloomy language and not-very-stringent chains of reasoning. The book tried to bite off too much, trying to explain too many phenomena with a long string of interesting, perhaps even captivating stories (anecdotes), but without enough backing. Or perhaps there were just too many ideas, making it difficult to see a red thread or discern what ideas are more and what ideas are less important to Malcolm's line off reasoning. While the book was entertaining (lots of examples), it just didn't come together for me.

I bought Albert Hirschman's "Exit, voice, and loyalty: Responses to decline in firms, organizations, and states" (1970) quite some time ago but can't remember exactly why. I do however think the title says it all - who hasn't worked or interacted with an organization or a company where their products or services were less than perfect? The book is mostly about the tradeoff between "exit" and "voice" strategies - when should you complain in order to try to change things (voice - a political choice) and when should you just move on (exit - an economic choice)? Voice covers the whole gamut from faint grumblings to violent protests, and exit includes everything from switching to another brand/product/service to quitting your job (or deserting from the army). Albert for example asks questions about what difference a monopoly does, and under what conditions will one option prevail over the other:

"When the consumer has been dissatisfied with an inexpensive, nondurable good, he will most probably go over to a different variety without making a fuss. But if he is stuck with an expensive durable good such as an automobile which disappoints him day-in and day-out, he is much less likely to remain silent."

"the role of voice would increase as the opportunities for exit decline, up to the point where, with exit fully unavailable, voice must carry the entire burden of altering management to its failings"

"Latin American powerholders have long encouraged their political enemies and potential critics to remove themselves from the scene through voluntary exile. The right of asylum [...] could almost be considered as a 'conspiracy in restraint of voice'."

Have you read any of these books (or would you like to)? What is your opinion about them?

lördag 10 september 2011

Green Futures

I went to a two-day workshop/conference, "Green futures: From utopian grand schemes to micro-practices" in Norrköping this week. It was single-track event with a dozen speakers of which 2/3 were Swedes and the rest were international guests. The program stated that:

"The symposium analyses alternative socio-environmental futures on the basis of the following areas:
- Analysis of contemporary and/or historical utopias/ecotopias/ideas on alternative futures presented in for example architectural visions, politics, or popular culture
- Analysis of existing utopian/alternative practices. How to go beyond current categories, hegemonies, centers, normalities - queer, post-capitalist ecofeminst etc. strategies?
- Theoretical reflections on the tension between what may be described as mainstream and alternative images of the future - alternative in what sense and in comparison to what?
- Reflections on how "utopian" visions and ideas turn "real", processes that enable institutional change, how radical initiative travel or spread and how they change during the process of going from the marginal to the mainstream."

There is nothing in the program itself what would seem to point in any specific disciplinary direction, and so it would not be unfeasible to imagine the people from sociology and psychology, literature and engineering to be represented at the event. For some reason though, people from a few specific backgrounds where overwhelmingly represented both as speakers and as audience at this event; architects, city planners and geographers. My hunch was that this had to do with 1) disciplinary background of the organizers and 2) a perceived responsibility, prerogative or mandate of people in these disciplines to think and to talk about the future (in relationship to and in terms of the build environment) and of formulating and discussion visions of what society could be or become. My hunch was confirmed by one of the two organizers, my friend/acquaintance Karin Bradley.

While many of the presentation were interesting to me in an abstract sense, I think I will have any practical use for only a few of them, and none had much to do with information technology. The highlight for me was hearing (and meeting) Alf Hornborg, a professor in human ecology, who gave a talk about technological utopianism called "Why solar panels doesn't grow in trees". He started by showing a map with a legend I've never seen before, namely GDP per square kilometer. This map is congruent with a world map of nighttime electricity usage, leading to the observation that money and technology and ecology are intimately intertwined, but that we seldom see this connection being emphasized. We usually instead see and treat these three areas separately. Where in the world is advanced technologies happening? Look for the money (GDP/km2). Hornborg's view on technology is so radical that it is way beyond this blog post to discuss it here beyond saying that to him, technology is not so much about progress, as it is about globally redistributing wealth, (embodied labor) time, energy and (the fruits of) productive land use. See further his book "The power of the machine: Global inequalities of economy, technology, and environment" (2001).

I also liked Karin Bradley's talk about commons, commoning and peer production in both software/online phenomena as well as in commons-based housing, agriculture and energy provisioning. How can certain principles that are embodied in online/peer produced social media phenomena be generalized to also encompass (certain aspects of) physical goods - taking into account the difference of non-rival vs scarce resources? Surplus resources can be commoned, but where everything is infinitely reproducible online, many real-world/offline resources can not be seen as "surplus". What are the implication for commoning virtual vs physical resources? Me and Karin have common interests in the commons from differing-but-complimentary perspectives, and this is a great starting point for possible future collaborations. To be continued...

A third who gave an interesting presentation was Catherine Gibson. She hastened through a number of different things, but what I really liked was a table where she had summarized a lot of different phenomena and divided them into 1) market, alternative market and non-market transactions, 2) wage, alternatively paid and unpaid labor, and 3) capitalist, alternative capitalist and non-capitalist enterprises. Alternative market transactions are for example fair trade, alternative currencies, underground market and barter, while non-market transactions are for example household sharing, gift giving, hunting, fishing, gleaning, poaching and theft. The table did unfortunately not come from a specific text/publication, but she instead directed me towards the research project "diverse economics" and the website communityeconomies.org.

Other things I want to keep track of and remember from the conference were:
  • I had a great conversation with Martin Hultman. He suggested I get in contact with two of his colleagues at Umeå University; Finn-Arne Jörgensen who is interested in the intersection between technology and environmental concerns, and, Astrid Mager who is interested in the norms, values and ideas that are built into search engines.
  • "Hackitectura" is a cool name for (Spanish) architects being inspired by hacker principles!
  • Some participants (notably Alf Hornborg) suggested that it might actually be desirable for society to slow down the pace of technological innovation. This made me think of a podcast I recently heard on This American Life called "When patents attack". So-called "patent trolls" are a pain in the ass and create uncertainty in the tech business. The fact that there might be a broad-but-fuzzy patent somewhere that sort of covers what you do in your startup company acts as a wet blanket on innovation, and as a tax on more established companies (and their products that we all love to buy). When I heard the radio show, patent trolls sounded like the biggest waste in history. But as a way of slowing down the pace of technological innovation, what they do is pure brilliance, especially taking into account that it makes stuff not happen or become more expensive without using any natural resources at all. It might very well be that the patent trolls are so much more effective than the Luddites ever where...!
  • Something I wondered was if there would have been a difference if the conference was called "from dystopian grand schemes to micro-practices"? Would we end up in the same place and with the same suggestions? There are a couple of movements with a dystopian bend, most notably the Dark Mountain project/movement. How do their ideas and proposals for going forward differ from more utopian schemes? Or don't they in the end?
  • This made me think of my master's thesis proposal on "social media and sustainability". It would be great writing up a similar proposal but focusing not on the "utopian" Transition Town movement, but rather on the "dystopian" survivalists and their use of social media.
  • Recent readings also made me think about adding a normative dimension to this master's thesis proposal and to my thinking about computer use in general. Some use of computers is truly a boon to humanity, but we can't disregard the fact that much is a waste of time. Inspired by Clay Shirky, I think we can make a difference between lean-back (TV-like use) and lean-forward (active) use of computers. But even the active, creative use of computers can be further divided up and Shirky makes a difference between personal, communal, public and civic use of computers and (social) media.

lördag 3 september 2011

I met NPR Planet Money!

This past week my course, "Future of media" - this year featuring "Radio of the future/future of radio" started (see the previous blog post). I was extremely happy to have bagged a guest from my no. 1 favorite radio show (podcast), NPR Planet Money.

I think the guys doing that show are brilliant, turning "boring" economics into great radio. I'm actually amazed that they manage to churn out two 25 minutes long radio shows twice per week, week after week, and that these radio shows are riveting. I've been glued to the program ever since I listened to it the first time a year ago. As a service to my students, I listed a dozen or so of my favorite shows from the past year for the to listen to. I'm sure there is something for everyone there.

Our guest from Planet Money was Adam Davidson, co-founder and co-host of the show. This is who he is and what he talked about. It was great having this voice, and this agile mind that I have heard week after week right there, in our classroom. Ah, I "forgot" to mention that Adam was in New York, visiting our class through Skype. We chose a late afternoon time slot in Stockholm so that Adam, six time zones behind us, could connect to us in what was to him morning in NY.

I was of course a little nervous and worried a lot beforehand about different things that could go wrong; what if there was a problem with the connections, or with the sound, or if Adam wouldn't answer when we called him up? But despite having to do it over a wireless network connection, it worked like a charm for the most part, with only the sound failing us slightly now and then. It's the first time a have a remote guest appearing through Skype, but the overall successful execution made an impact on me personally - with some added preparations, it really is possible to invite anyone anywhere in the world to give a guest lecture!

Well, there were of course a couple of things that were a little difficult. We connected my computer, with the Skype window open, to a projector that projected the image of Adam on to a big screen. He started by giving a talk, and I turned the computer around so that he could see the class through my computer's camera. When his talk came to an end, I turned the computer around again so that he faced me instead. That meant I had to mediate between the students and Adam, repeating questions from the audience to him. I also had a battery of back-up questions that I had prepared (sort of like an interview).

Some curious things that I noticed in my own behavior was for example that I felt compelled to look at Adam and into the computer/camera all the time. I really did need to glance at my prepared notes and questions now and then (to figure out which question to choose next), or at the audience to see if there were any questions out there, but it for some reason felt rude to look away from the screen since Adam one and only on thing to look at - and that was me.

I also felt that when he talked to the class and the computer faced the auditorium, he would probably not see the eyes and perhaps neither slight movements (nods etc.) from the students (feedback through backchannels). After I while I felt that I needed to do him the service of standing beside the computer and humming my approval (or understanding or something) now and then just so as to provide him with feedback. That felt a little strange and silly though since he couldn't see me (I was besides, not in front of the computer). I still felt that I needed to provide him with that service, since it must otherwise be difficult for someone to "speak into the air" to a for the most part unseen audience. On second thought though, that's what he does for a living; recording a radio program and talking "directly" to people as if they were right next to him... I didn't think of that at the time. In fact, I only thought about it right now as I write this text.

My dual (or triple) role of talking/interviewing Adam, mediating between him and the students, and just generally thinking about how to mediate between the characteristics (limitations) of the technology left me totally exhausted. The effort was much large and it was much tougher on me that giving an "ordinary" lecture - mostly probably because of lack of experience and having to think so much about content, delivery and format. I had at the time absolutely no feeling for if the lecture was successful or not because all my brain cycles went towards just making it all work while at the same time thinking about how to make it work better (again overcoming the limitations of the technology). After the lecture, my co-teacher said it worked like a charm though and I believe him. Not the least since Adam got a loooooooooong applause from the audience - so I think the whole thing really was a success with them.

I too was happy. I got to know a lot more about public radio in general and Planet Money in particular, and I got to ask and get a lot of questions answered by one of the Planet Money founders/hosts. Awesome. The course will (among other things) produce a book(let) about the future of radio, and I promised to send a thank-you copy to Adam when it was printed, at the end of the year.