Reflections on Rocketboom

Reflections on Rocketboom

Rocketboom is an inspiring example of vodcasting (or video-on-demand casting… or video blogging). As they describe themselves, the show is “a three minute daily videoblog based in New York City” which covers and creates “a wide range of information and commentary from top news stories to quirky internet culture”… with an emphasis on the quirky.

They do a great job of using the video medium to communicate things visually and in ways they could not in a text or audio blog. I look to this vodcast as a model going into the process of producing the OCDE podcasts, which will actually be created using video and offered using iTunes bookmarks in the style of the cutting edge Apple Distinguished Educators podcasts. Robert Craven of the OCDE Ed Tech department has also been involved in the ADE podcasts and is helping to spearhead the efforts at the OCDE too.

Having caught up on several back issues of Rocketboom during flights lately (where podcasting is perfect for driving commutes, vodcasting is great for flying commutes… try it out, ML, if you haven’t already), I’ve had a chance to reflect on the show… in the light of preparing to do one at the OCDE.

  • Especially since the show is an example of cutting edge internet distribution, I wonder why Amanda has paper in her hands… other than for dramatic effect. Do network newscasters still use paper? I seem to remember that they all have video monitors in their desks now, but I don’t watch much news on TV anymore. Will we use paper for the OCDE vodcasts? I hope not. ;)
  • Amanda is a great anchor… quirky, yes… but dynamic and fun to watch. Much of the visual element of this show is simply her performance… and it’s worth it. If we go video, we will need to be as interesting. And if we include visual bookmarks in the audio version in iTunes 4.9, then I hope we can avoid the stationary talking head effect of the Bernie Dodge podcast. Stacy Deeble-Reynolds and I had something of a crack at this when we recorded the Showcase Grant Overview videoconference back in January. (Bummer, this seems to have been taken down from the archive now that the info is no longer needed). Now that I think about it… Stacy and I used laptops instead of paper for this video… and they were beneath the shot of the camera.
  • Still, the best shows are not all Amanda. She has some contributing reporters (some better than others, to be sure), and often includes other clips contributed by her viewers. I hope we can do the same, similar to the way we’re now including community highlights in the Promising Practices newsletter. Perhaps we can also include clips from Michael Guerena’s video conferences and webcasts.
  • The camera work and editing is pretty sophisticated. We’ll need to tap the Media department at OCDE to compete. (The OCDE actually has a full fledged television studio setup). It seems Robert and Michael have already taken this step in my absence. :)
  • That being said, I’ve been reading a lot of Clark Aldrich lately, and am conscious of his phrase, “don’t use calculus when algebra will do.” I know we’ll have to keep it simple, especially since this can’t take more than an afternoon a week for a couple of us to throw together. Rocketboom seems to have struck a good balance, as much of their production is rather low tech, too.
  • Rocketboom is well archived and offered in many formats… I hope we will be able to do the same. (They even offer PSP format!)

This has been a valuable process for me, and perhaps these reflections will be a helpful starting point for others who are interested in producing something similar.

Thanks for reading.