The Element: Chapter 20


“Rusty, when you attend a mission border crossing, you present our mission’s progress, and ask permission to take it to the next mission level,” Freelance said. “At that point you had a choice of making the project easy, something known from our experiences. Instead you chose the unknown, like an assailant that lurks in the shadows.”
“I like this dramatic side of you,” Rusty said, “but I am not sure where you are going with that statement.”


Team Leader: Freelance
Point-Man: Test Drive
First Defense-Man: Rusty
Second Defense-Man: Coach
Rear Security: T

“When you spoke with our border crossing agent, Alex, you might have suggested an E-book, or method cards as our mission’s output format.” Freelance said. “If we have to start creating prototypes, at least we have a bunch of experience with the written word. How in the hell were you talked into a pod-cast?”

“I was trying to be forward thinking,” Rusty said, “and I suggested it.”

T saw the response as a spark to Freelance’s hyper attitude. She looked directly at Freelance and pointed a finger at him.

“Calm down, because you really don’t want to go there Freelance,” T said.

“No, I will not be put off like this!” Freelance said with an elevated voice. “Answer the question straight up!”

“You asked for it,” T said.

A cool look came to Rusty’s eyes, almost as if he was tuning his mind like an instrument in preparation for a concert. Having a year’s worth of research ready to go, he knew this was an important moment to get the team off the fence with their attitude about audio.

“Here we go my man,” Rusty said. “I have a story to tell all of you. The decade starting in the year 2000 had the release of the iPhone, coupled with pod-casts being added to the iTunes store. In the 2010 decade, personal computer software for digital audio recording and editing became available. A good example can be found in 2011, where Audacity took the 11th most downloaded software application with 80 million. The pod-cast listener audiences were also having a year over year growth between 10-20%.”

“Does the story have a point?” Freelance asked.

“Be patient,” Rusty said. “Today, roughly 25% of Americans are listening to pod-casts on a monthly basis. High end culture messages are being pushed about the value personal time, and they are taking action. People have figured out that they can learn about a topic while listening to audio, while doing some other physical activity.”

Rusty paused, taking a moment to formulate his knockout punch. Don’t get in the weeds on this. They need to be hit hard and let the idea swell up for a minute.

“Now,” Rusty said, “I don’t really care to debate the studies claiming negligible comprehension differences between reading the written word and listening to the same content in audio. That may or may not be true. What I do know is that the future growth of pod-casting is certain, and it is a very popular destination for where our users consume information. If we want to provide relevant information to them, we need to have a presence in audio.”

“You really believe it is time for a knowledge pod-cast?” Freelance asked.

“We are approaching this technology target about five to six years late,” Rusty replied. “If we had made the effort to start then, we would be playing at an expert level by now.”

“I think you are getting a little Wonky,” Freelance said.

“He is inspired,” T said. “He has been studying and talking about pod-casting for almost a year. He dropped hundreds of dollars on a Peavey audio mixer, a couple of microphones and Adobe Audition software.

“Why would he spend money on something that our company, the Culture Spy Syndicate, would have purchased?” Coach asked.

“Rusty has always been a ravenous consumer of experiences,” T said. “He likes to practice, and try the ideas out before dumping a bunch of manpower into a project. He answers the initial questions. Is it feasible? Is it sustainable?”

“OK,” Said Test Drive. “We all know that experiences will often provide a richer amount of solutions to choose from. I also have a belief that communication, in any form, is the most important food for the brain.”

“What forms of communication?” Coach asked.

“All forms of reading, writing and audio.” Test Drive said. “We are so well practiced at the written word. We write for others to read and read to gain other person’s experiences. What about the audio? For that, we are often on the receiving end of it, and lack the practice of formally providing it. We can write a book by sprawling thousands of words across hundreds of pages, but how often do we put that amount of effort into capturing the audio experience?”

“So, let me get this straight,” Coach said. “Starting is often the hardest step. We feel inadequately prepared for the task at hand, and worry about what others will think about our pathetic first attempt!”

“Yes,” Test Drive said, “but maybe not that pathetic.”

“Oh yes,” Rusty said, “It will be a pathetic attempt, and we will look back years from now and cringe at what you are hearing.”

“Look at the definition of music on Wikipedia,” Test Drive said. “A noun. Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.”

“So the human voice on audio is a form a music?” Coach asked.

“Exactly,” T said. “So what is there to be afraid of? We have interesting beliefs, experiences, and Rusty has a voice that resonates similar to Sam Elliot.”

“Really?” Rusty asked.

“No sweet thing,” T said, “Not really. But with practice, and taking the team along, we should be able to work out something that is acceptable. I think you should set your expectations at the beginner level. As long as you can string together a couple of coherent thoughts that folks can understand.”

“We could sit down like Jimmie Page and Robert Plant,” Freelance said, “and lay down a #1 hit track.  Our words would be written on a scrap piece of paper from the local diner as we are nursing a whopping hangover from one hell of a party the previous night.”

“That is possible,” T said, “just like winning the lottery, but winning the lottery actually has better odds. One thing I do know is that you can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket. We can’t expect to get good at something without dedication and practice.”

“The same advice I have heard from Rusty over many years,” Freelance whined. “You guys are too weird with the common mind thing that you share.  Probably caused by being married to each other. I agree that we need to put some skin in the game.”

“So are we able to take our own advice?” Test Drive asked. “We actually know it is the right path to wander down. I think the team has been adverse to change from the written word.  When I think about it, we have been kind of lazy.  Let’s create a prototype for our mission in pod-cast format.”



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