One thing I was really excited about with Five Weeks to a Social Library was playing around with Odeo. I’d seen a lot of people using it and it looked like a really great service. I love their cute embedded players. Unfortunately, I seem to have come to it at the point where things are falling apart over there. Odeo has been having weird outages where none of us can access the audio. The embedded player will give an error message and when you try to click through to the Odeo page for the podcast, you get this screen (?!?!?? it’s not exactly descriptive of what the problem is and it kind of makes you feel like it’s your fault). Then five minutes later it will work fine. And five minutes after that, it won’t. Then I tried to upload one presenter’s MP3 file, it uploaded, but I got an error message every time I tried to play it. Not cool, especially not in a class like this where we’re trying to make people excited about social software. How many negative experiences does it take for a newbie to be turned off to something?
So I’m moving all of the audio content over to blip.tv, which is where some of our video content for the course is already living. With all the hubbub (deserved, yes) over YouTube, I had not discovered blip.tv until recently. YouTube really doesn’t allow you to display screencasts in a way that people can easily make out what’s on the screen, so I had thought that there was nowhere for me to host the screencasts for 5 Weeks other than my own server (which was a scary thought considering bandwidth issues). I was happy to find that blip.tv works beautifully with (most) screencasts and has a full-screen option for viewing. Hot! They also take audio files and allow you to embed a player on your Website. I’m really impressed with blip.tv and am glad that we will be using it for this course. You can see our “show” at blip.tv here.
I guess this is a good lesson for our participants: always have a backup plan, because with these Web 2.0 companies, you never know what might happen. Perpetual beta can mean “we’re constantly improving things” or it can mean “never having to say you’re sorry.”