Audio Blogging: Is this the game-changer?

Wow. I don’t quite know why the first one didn’t materialise in the same spectacular fashion as the second – it’s actually in Gaelic – but hey, who’s complaining? A train of thought has been bugging me for some time, basically to do with literacy and oracy and the relative weight or “prestige” accorded to each. My preceding post, for those that don’t read Gaelic, basically ponders a catch-22 inherent in trying to reach through the written word an audience that prefers speech. I picked on Gaelic, but no doubt there are plenty other examples.

Anyway, online communities, fora, twitterers etc are all very well, and probably particularly good at pulling in enthusiastic new learners, but to the extent that they’re text-based they’re a closed book to non-readers. So a google search starting with “audio twitter” eventually brought me to this: I’m no nerd but it actually took me no time at all to set up an account and record my first “phonecast”. All you do is phone it in. What could be simpler?

OK, to get to the first one (in Gaelic) click here.

What follows below is what you get when you link your blogsite to your “phlogsite”(?) – phonecast no 2 (Hindi and Urdu) using my landline rather than the mobile.

Visit to hear my latest ipadio phonecast

Or listen here:

“Literacy” and “illiteracy” are heavily loaded terms. Strange that “oracy”, which actually comes first, is rarely even heard of. A chance here to redress the balance?

About Gordon Wells

Language learner and teacher (English, Gaelic, Hindi and Urdu). Interested in bilingualism and creativity. At home in the Hebrides.

Posted on 08/02/2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I think the problem here is quite simple:
    It’s easier for a layman to write something that reads sensibly and easily than to speak in an interesting and concise manner. Video podcasts have been touted as the “next big thing” for several years now, but really they’re only popular within closed circles of people, because to be frank, most people waffle, go off on tangents etc.

    I once sat through someone wittering for half-an-hour, when if he’d written it down instead he wouldn’t have kept going off track and it probably would have taken me 5 minutes to read his main points.

    Ok, maybe he could have planned it and scripted it before he recorded it, and then it may have taken a lot less time. But here’s a real Catch fichead s a dhà:

    How can you plan a talk in a language you can’t write?

    • gordonwellsuist

      Well, I’m interested in accentuating the positive. In that spirit, and speaking in general terms, here are some possible answers to your conundrum. You could, say, draw a storyboard (like my kids used to do before writing an essay for school), or a “mind map”, or (whisper it) make up your own orthography even (I can’t write the Urdu script to save my life), or hey, maybe make notes in one of the languages that you did get taught in school… Not the perfect solution, granted, but if it means it gives you the confidence that makes the difference between remaining silent and making a contribution then, for my money, it’s worth a go. Plus, in the case of Gaelic, it’s not as if there hasn’t been a long and strong oral tradition – degraded though it now may be.

      In any case I think more people can put together 2 to 3 minutes on the telephone off the top of their heads than you may be allowing for. They might even get a taste for it – and who knows where that might lead, perhaps to the nearest evening class?

      You’re maybe familiar with Will Lamb’s work – the kind of stuff he gets up to when he can tear himself away from drumming with the band:) The basic point is that there are differences between spoken and written language. Nobody talks like Jane Austen writes. Here’s a chance, maybe, to make more speech more readily available. OK, so “game-changer” may be a tad optimistic. It could have been worse – I could have used “silver bullet” – and there certainly ain’t one of them around.

      Yes, there are “bad” speakers, just like there are “bad” writers. Maybe the ones who “witter” on will cut it down a bit when the phone bill comes in…?

  2. Maybe an experiment could be done with a text/audio forum? Text in English, audio responses in Gaelic. After all on Fòram na Gàidhlig you have bilingual threads, Gàidhlig a-mhàin, and threads where people enter a Gaelic written conversation with English – they can understand the Gaelic but have better writing skills in English.
    Would anyone bother to take part though?

    • gordonwellsuist

      Well, I’m up for it!

    • gordonwellsuist

      You’ll see I’ve posted to Fòram na Gàidhlig. Or listen here.

      I know that forum aims to be Gaelic-medium, which I respect, so my English summary is here.

      Reasons for using a phone to make an audio blog entry (in addition to the general points about oracy and literacy covered above in English and previously in Gaelic):

      1. It’s easy.
      2. You can do it from anywhere there’s a signal.
      3. The material is saved “somewhere in cyber space”, and doesn’t clog up your own system.

  3. gordonwellsuist

    I’ve now done a couple more examples, accessible via this blog in an amalgamated post on 11/02/10 – and also now on the Island Voices: Guthan nan Eilean project blog in a single post.

  4. ‘S e an t-eadar-lìn an lìn soisealta againn’

    Seo Jeff Jarvis a-mach air Google Buzz, rinn e liosta de rudan a mhothaich e. Seo fear aca:

    ‘* Voice is rising in importance: You an post a buzz using only voice from your mobile device (read: while driving). This is one reason why Google has been working (through Goog411) to get better and better at voice recognition. Will the keyboard become less important? Will we post more when all we have to do is talk? Will Google then have more to organize for us?’

    Agus rudeigin eile a thuirt e ” S e an t-eadar-lìn an lin-soisealta a th’againn’:

    ‘* Social. Google has tried to attack social before and failed. Microsoftlike, it’s trying again. I am disappointed that its interface with Twitter, for example, is only one-way: I can bring Twitter into Buzz but not use Buzz to publish to Twitter. Silly. I’ve long said that the winner in social is not a site; the internet is our social network. The winner will be the company that helps us organize that. To do that, it must be open to all input and output. That’s where we should be looking with Google and Facebook. In that sense, Twitter is ahead of both of them.’

  1. Pingback: Musical Appendix « Gordon Wells's Weblog

  2. Pingback: Musical Appendix « Gordon Wells's Weblog

  3. Pingback: Musical Appendix | Gordon Wells's Weblog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: