Powwow by the Thames

Danesfield House

Well, I’m in an airport once again, on the way back from this place above. This is where I have been holed up for two days with an astonishing group of people: many of my colleagues at The Economist. The setting quite reminded me of the movie Mansfield Park. It is a castle-ish place in the foggy English hills by a bend of the Thames. But who cares about that?

What I cared about was the incredible level of intellect, wit, irony and cosmopolitan curiosity of the people inside. We gathered in order to think. Debate. Laugh. Argue. About the future of the world, the media, the economy and our place in it. The main focus was our web strategy, but it went beyond it.

I’m not at liberty to say much more about it for the time being. But I can say that this was a highlight. There is no other group of people like this. I consider myself lucky.

7 thoughts on “Powwow by the Thames

  1. It was very interesting, Jonathan: Most of us (ie, the writers) did NOT know that the entire magazine is available in audio. Now we know. Apparently, it is very popular in iTunes.
    Too bad you couldn’t be a fly on the wall. We were often trying to figure out the needs and habits of our next generation of readers–you, basically. You might have been smirking the entire time.

  2. What a pow-wow! Did you ever watch the interview which Bill Moyers gave a while back with a collection of former editors from The Economist? If it is online, would love to re-watch the series.

    I guess I am one of those that attempts to listen to the entire audio edition of The Economist each week. I find that I get through much more of the content that way during spare moments in the day. Example: I will listen to 1-2 features while walking to the bus-stop. Once on the bus, if I find a seat I will read the newspaper or a book. If I have to stand due to rush-hour, I will carry on listening to the audio edition.

    Here’s how I do it. It is painful, compared to what I have to do to listen to a regular podcast from BBC or Indicast:

    1. Go to the The Economist.com website.
    2. Navigate to find a link that states “download audio edition” – this link is not aways quick to find and is confusing compared to audio contributions (along with video) on the site itself.
    3. Go to the 3rd party site and start to download the 100+ MB zip file to my desktop.
    4. Wait for the download to complete…
    5. Unzip the file to my desktop in a separate folder.
    6. Open iTunes.
    7. Delete Playlist called “Economist” with last week’s content.
    8. Go to “Music” in iTunes. Search for “The Econo mist”
    9. Delete all relevant audio files
    10. Add folder (of unzipped files) to iTunes
    11. Move relevant files to playlist
    12. Plug-in my iPod
    13. Synchronise iPod

    A dozen steps!!!

    Is there an easier way to listen to the entire audio edition on my iPod? Feedback appreciated!

    Also, I’m happy music changed on audio edition from what used to be a snippet from the Pengiun Café Orchestra. It now sounds more like something composed by Kronos Quartet! Who is the composer?

  3. Haha Siddhartha, I hate the new music. It seems way to bright for the tone of most of the articles. For example “Winterbirds- met the repo man” … followed by some bright and shiny music seems wrong.

    And for your steps, if you’re listening to the entire issue, why do you bother with a playlist? You can just listen to the album sequentially and skip that step. But I think most of what you do there is what has to be done. Luckily it only needs to be done once a week.

    Andreas, do you know how to find the print edition from iTunes? I thought it was only available from the TalkingIssues site.

  4. Siddhartha, did Jonathan answer your question?
    Personally, as thrilled as I am to have found out that we have an audio edition, I am now amazed that we subject our loyal listeners to the pain that you describe. I will pass this on and maybe get an answers. But I can’t guarantee anything. In time, all this will be sorted, though.
    Jonathan, your last questions once again stumps me. I don’t know. I will try to find out….

  5. Jonathan – I put the entire issue into a playlist because I “only” have 8GB on my iPod nano and hence need to ensure that it only replicates from desktop to iPod those pieces I can “afford” to listen to. In my case this is pretty much only podcasts and some selected music pieces.

    Andreas – I think what Jonathan says is correct. On iTunes you can subscribe to a selection of pieces “from the audio edition” – this is however *not* the entire issue. Only a preview, so to speak.

  6. Jonathan,

    Thank your query about our audio edition. I help to distribute our audio content so Andreas passed your query on to me.

    I’m afraid that at the moment the steps outlined are just about correct. The file does need to be downloaded in a zip format and then unzipped and uploaded into your iTunes account, the only step which you may be able to cut out is deleting the previous edition (as the articles should sort based on date).

    The reason for zipping is to speed up download times and reduce amount of bandwidth needed which we thought was a lesser of the two evils (the second being longer download times with the added potential of the download being interrupted). We are looking to improve our service in the new year, especially now that the audio edition is becoming much more popular, so I am hoping we will have a neater solution in the not to distant future.

    If you have any queries about the audio edition, please feel free to drop me a line.

    Kind regards,

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