Thursday, April 19, 2007

Podcasting, Blogging, and Video Blogging made easy!!!!

It has come to my attention that museum professionals might be confused about how to get started in the internet outreach world. It is not confusing, I promise!!! Here are the ways that the Dr Pepper Museum got into the world of fun computer stuff!

FREE is the word of the blog!!

You are reading our blog right now! Yay! We use Google's blog program Blogger for the Museum' blog and its email newsletter, and both Jessica and myself use it for our personal blogs. It is fun, very user-friendly, and totally free!!! The website for Blogger is When we started using Blogger the templates were unchangeable and pretty basic, but now you can customize a lot of the features, and add a lot of additional features through the Template section. Very fun!

Podcasting is SO SO simple people!!! It is one of the most fun, youth-targeted ways to get your info out there!! I was very fortunate to get to go to the Texas Association of Museums meeting last year and go to a podcasting seminar. I learned so much! First, I learned about a free hosting site for podcasts called Podomatic, which is basically You Tube for podcasts. You create an account, and begin uploading your podcasts! But of course, you first have to record something wonderful! As an example, I took all the audio files used on our audio wands and uploaded them to Podomatic, creating an instant audio tour downloadable to an MP3 player. The work was already done! But recording new information is a snap! Another thing I learned about at the seminar was a free recording and editing program on the internet called Audacity. Audacity is basically a simplified version of Apple's Garageband. You just press record and start talking! Want to add music? Just import it from your musci library. Adjust volume levels, add sound effect, do whatever you like! It is SO easy! When you are done you just export it as a single file to your desktop or wherever and then upload it to podomatic. With podomatic you can put a player with all your podcasts on your website, MySpace, Blog, or wherever you want. Warning! This does require you to copy and paste (NOT EDIT) code to wherever you want the player to go. There is really so much more you can do, but these are the simple beginner steps. After you have done some podcasts go to The Podcast Directory and add your podcast so others know about it!

For those of you who use a Mac, no need to download ANY software! The Audacity-like recording studio that comes standard with any Mac is called Garageband, and is AM-A-ZING! Very easy to use, and it has a ton of sound effects, etc. built right in. The other thing that I have yet to mention is the means by which you get your voice on the computer. You need a microphone!!! Some laptops have a microphone built in, but most of us in the business world do not use laptops. THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE MONEY IS NECESSARY!!! About three years ago we bought a microphone from Wal-Mart made by Labtec that cost $10.00. Jessica and I used this microphone with my old PC with GREAT success until we convinced Jack that I needed to be working on the Mac at all times. So the Mac moved up, and since it does not have the pink headphone jack looking thing in the back, we had to buy a different one. It was a necessary sacrifice to get to use Garageband on our podcasts. We had to buy a USB microphone, and we got a Logitech from Office Depot for about $24.00. These are basically the only two expenses we have incurred doing all that we do. Isn't it amazing!

The $10.00 Labtec

The one we currently use.

Sites to know:

Video Blogs
Jessica and I have just recently delved into the world on video blogging here at the museum. It was super fun! Because purchasing a video camera would cost money, I brought my Mac laptop from home and we recorded our video blogs with the built in camera and microphone already on it. We used iMovie HD, which is a program that comes standard on Macs. This program also allows you to edit, add music; it is basically a video version of Garageband. To get our videos out on the internet we uploaded them to You Tube, which is free. Just like with Podomatic, you just copy and paste videos to wherever you want them (website, MySpace, etc.). I realize having a portable computer with a built in camera and microphone is not available to everyone. Some if you may have seen the movie that Jessica and I did. We recorded that on the video setting of Jessica's digital camera, then just imported it to our computer. However, we did use iMovie HD to edit it. If anyone has any good free recorder and editor download suggestions, let me know! But really, buying a nice webcam is not that expensive. Here is a good one:

The Logitech QuickCam Pro 5000,CRID=2204,CONTENTID=10556
DO NOT buy this form the manufacturer, it is way cheaper even at Best Buy or somewhere like that. I just wanted to show you manufacturer specs. This is a really cool camera, but NOT compatible with Macs.

You Tube also has a really neat new feature that allows you to record straight from your camera to You Tube and skip the uploading part. That is just another way to do it!

Anyway, the point is, Museums can do this! Even if you CAN spend the money, you don't have to! I hope this has helps, and if anyone wants to share their technological experiences with us please feel free!

~ Mary Beth

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