June 2009: IT Conversations

Technology conferences, lectures, and presentations are premiere venues for professional development. You have the opportunity to hear experts and researchers, to learn about new and emerging technology, sit in on important, potentially world-changing discussions. Yet attendance has its literal and figurative costs. In addition to travel and registration expenses conference halls and meeting rooms can be crowded and under-ventilated forcing you to sit shoulder to shoulder with live-blogging strangers jostling each other for that one electrical outlet in the room. So if you could stay home and listen to these presentations from the comfort of your own home for free, you probably would.

IT Conversations, which bills itself as the "longest running podcast on the planet", brings you keynote speeches, conference presentations, discussions and debates without the hassle of actual conference attendance.

The conference itself is made up of twenty, ongoing series including a half dozen O'Reilly Media conferences, Singularity Summit and Supernova Conference presentations, plus several stand-alone podcasts. Individual podcasts range in length from a short 15-minute argument about the inaccessibility of Internet data to an hour and a half-long panel discussion of blogging strategies.

As the topics range so does the sound quality, depending on the source. Conference presentations can be tinny and sound as if they were recorded from the audience, or they can play quite clearly. Moira Gunn's podcast, Tech Nation, has the production power of Public Radio, while another series, Technometria, often features poor quality call-in conversations.

Each IT Conversations episode begins with a brief introduction of the content, a musical interlude featuring the IT Conversations jazzy saxophone music, and often a brief comment from either the executive producer or executive director encouraging listeners to join the Conversations Network as a paid member.

Free registration for the Conversation Network allows users to rate episodes, create a personal playlist and receive a free email newsletter. Paid membership helps support the not-for-profit network and provides access to episodes without promos, introductions or music. Listeners can also subscribe to individual channels, the entire IT Conversations channel or play or download individual episodes from the website.

With such a diverse collection of content, IT Conversations is practically guaranteed to hold something of interest for everyone, whether you didn't make it to the Tools of Change Conference last year or just enjoy Interviews with Innovators, you can surely get your tech fix with any one of IT Conversations' hundreds of podcasts.

Jennifer Kelley