The Latest Articles (Dec. 12, 2014)

My recent articles include:

Podcasting Hits Twitter Numbers: 39 Million Americans

In all the recent discussion about podcasting having arrived — with a lot of reliance on Edison Research's most recent in a multi-year series of interviews about radio and audio-program listening — nobody seems to have connected two numbers.

The Pew Research Internet Project's Social Networking Fact Sheet pegs regular Twitter use at 19% of online adult Americans. That's people 18 or older who use the Internet regularly, which Pew says elsewhere is about 87% of adults.

Edison Research's lengthy research deck notes that of its panel, which includes Americans aged 12 and older, so a larger pool, 15% had listened to one or more podcasts in the previous month when the survey was conducted. (Edison redefined how it counts this in 2013, which means the 9% figure in 2008 might be overstated by current terms, but helps show a slow, steady rise over the last six years.)

Edison helpfully notes that the 15% figure represents 39 million Americans. There are 309 million people in America as of the 2010 census, and the Census Bureau says 23.3% of them are not yet 18 years of age. Thus 76.7% of 309 million gets you 236 million; take 87% of that for online adult Americans, and it's 205 million; 19% who use Twitter regularly would thus mean…39 million.

A podcast and Twitter aren't comparable in nature. Someone might listen to one 30-minute episode of a radio show or their local church's sermon once a month, while they participate on Twitter every day; the opposite is also possible.

Yet given the attention paid to Twitter, it's reasonable to think that podcasting quietly arrived at a viable mass market when no one was looking. It took Serial for people outside of radio and podcasting to pay close attention.

Twitter's growth has slowed, especially for active users. Podcasting has by no means reached its top, and it's likely to be driven higher by a critical mass of adoption and shows like Serial. The number of podcast listeners could start to approach Edison's figures for online radio listeners: about 47% of the 12+ population in America, or about 124 million people.

For people who love listening to and making podcasts, 39 million is a very nice potential audience, but striving towards 124 million sounds even better.

Don't Build It Unless You Have To

My new motto for all new ventures is: If I don't have to build it, I won't. This is a marked change both in my life path and the advice I've given others. In the past, I felt that without building most elements of a digital project or a workflow from scratch, you couldn't reach something close enough to your aims to achieve those goals. Custom work, typically involving a lot of coding, was the only way.

I've gotten past that. The Magazine was a grand experiment in building it from scratch, and I credit Marco Arment tremendously for putting in the time and effort to make it happen. It was the only reasonable approach in 2012 to produce a born-digital and digital-only publication distributed to mobile devices. As I wrote at Six Colors, app ecosystems used to promise and deliver almost everything you needed for a publication; now, they promise more than they deliver, though there are still advantages.

The Magazine had these built-from-scratch properties:

  • A custom app, which was perceived (incorrectly) as iPad only
  • A built-from-scratch web site (turned into templates)
  • A custom back-end for both iOS and web app interaction
  • An in-house account management system to integrate iOS subscribers (by receipt) and Web access, as well as allow Web subscribers to use the iOS app
  • A custom Apple Push Notification (APN) system
  • Initially accepted payment solely via iTunes; then added custom ecommerce handling
  • Did not offer integration in the app to allow subscribers to add themselves to a mailing list

This all made sense in 2012 because:

  • There were no mature periodical platforms. Now there are several. (I picked TypeEngine for our 2.0 update this last summer.)
  • WordPress was the only reasonable and mature offering for hosting a web site with the complexity of what we needed in 2012, but it still wouldn't have been the right choice then. Now there's Squarespace, among others, which are much more sophisticated, even without being able to run custom PHP or the like.
  • Marco is a PHP and iOS programmer: he didn't have to hire in any expertise except in the user-interface design.

The trouble with custom everything, even if you are the person writing the code and are proficient (I can program perl and PHP but not Objective C), is that every single change you make or feature improvement you need is a slog. You're the only one who can do it. If you job out some parts of what you do for custom work, you have to manage those projects and get other people to conform to your needs, while they have other priorities they're juggling.

I have an increasingly well-formed idea for a new publication that I may launch in late winter. For this project, I swear to the heavens above, I'm going to stitch together everything I need from existing components, and only write the glue to bind them. Squarespace offers a lot of glue in its setup: linking in Stripe, Mailchimp, Disqus, and many other services by just popping in those other servcies' API keys.

  • If there is an app component, it will be a publishing platform that I license or to which I subscribe, not an app I commission.
  • Any content available through a platform will also be available in ebook format.
  • Web hosting will be on Squarespace.
  • I will not write a line of ecommerce code, but design the project around the capabilities of existing integration in Squarespace or another system that I can link to the web site.
  • I will not build an account-management system.
  • An email list (using Mailchimp) will be a fundamental part of communication.
  • It will not be beholden to Apple or any monolithic company for funding, ongoing subscription revenue, or feature approval.

I will focus all of my efforts on editorial, marketing, and design. Am I being naive to think that what I need is available? Not really. I've tested every one of the elements I mention in the last bullet list in isolation. The trick is making sure I can create an integrated whole. I believe it's possible.

Journalists and Patronage

(See also my essay on Patreon and its literal problem with nazis.)

It's about ethics in journalism. Seriously, it is. The rise of direct funding of creative and business projects through Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others, and the ongoing support of same through Patreon (which is not sui generis, but generates the only substantive volume), brings out new issues regarding conflicts of issues between journalists and the people and organizations they cover.

This has been highlighted speciously as a major component of GamerGate (GG). Somewhere a few months ago, it became a trope in the harassment campaign against Zoe Quinn (that morphed into GG) that journalists contributing to Patreon projects were de facto corrupt: their collusion in helping a creator make things on a regular basis (Patreon is per item created or per month) meant that they couldn't fairly review or write about that creator's work.

There's a kernel of truth in this. It's not absolute, and the basis on which the conflict arises isn't the one that GGers maintain.

Journalists are expected to avoid conflicts of interest. As I wrote a month ago, personal ethical standards and disclosure to one's editors are key tenets in avoiding conflicts. Editors have to be vigilant as well, especially when dealing with large numbers of freelance writers, to ensure that policies aren't violated.

Journalists can write about friends, enemies, family members, projects towards which they have donated money, financial vehicles in which they have invested, companies in which they own stock, firms they have founded, etc. But that can only be done when the publication in which the article appears has been fully informed of all the connections and, typically, disclosed them all to readers. (Some publications fall afoul of this by deciding not to disclose even when a writer has provided full disclosure, and then get called on it later.)

Hanna Rosin penned a remarkable example of this in The New Republic recently, describing getting back in touch with noted fabulist Stephen Glass, who was a good friend of hers at that publication before his lies were uncovered. It's both a work of solid journalism and a deeply personal essay that's informed by her biases and emotional response, which she reveals as she goes.

The odd part with patronage and conflicts, though, is that journalists typically aren't prohibited from buying things — we're allowed to pay for stuff we want and use. The exception is investment. If you work for a news organization, you're typically required to not invest in specific companies; if you have a financial planner who handles this for you, it can be ok. It depends on the publication. This is done to put reporters and publications beyond reproach, although most reporters, except with penny stocks, cannot move the price of an investment. (Reporters may obtain inside information, however, which is illegal to trade upon, so that's another reason to be disinvested from individual companies.)

Reward-based crowdfunding was essentially zero in 2009, and now represents hundreds of millions of dollars a year. A recent US law also enabled investment-style crowdfunding, which will likely grow into the billions per year, but is more easily dealt with, because a return on the investment is expected, and thus conflicts must be avoided.

If I give $50 to a Kickstarter campaign and am both supporting a person making a thing, but also expect to get a DVD and a poster of the final result, is that a conflict? The answer would seem to be no. In that case, it's like a pre-order, even if it costs more than the final result, because I'm getting something premium. Do I expect something from the creator as a result? Only the reward.

It gets murkier, in my view, when you go into purely patronage level support. If I give $1,000 to become a Supreme Angel of a project, and get my name emblazoned in the credits, can I credibly write about the project later? Again, disclosure matters. If I want to write about it, I have to be clear with my editors that I paid that money and my name is splashed all over the place. I have a bias towards the project's success as a result.

In Patreon, the equation is typically different. Patreon offers ongoing support for creators, where you pledge a fixed amount that is billed either monthly or at project milestones, such as the creation of a video. The nature of support is different. The goals may be specific (an artist plans to make five new casual videogames over two years), but the intent to me always seems more warm and fuzzy than with a goal-based, closed-end crowdfunding campaign.

However, money is still a key defining attribute. If someone gives $1 per month to Zoe Quinn, as I have done for months, does $12 per year actually make a difference in Quinn's life? Does it give me undue influence over her work or make it possible for me to demand an exclusive interview that would boost my pageviews? (Never mind that I don't write about or review games, and that I don't write for any outlet that pays me based in pageviews.)

It's de minimus: something so small, that it doesn't matter. In aggregate, 5,000 people giving $1 per month each is significant; but my individual contribution is nearly meaningless on its own, except as a point of morale and support. If I were giving $20 per month, that's not much each month, but it starts to add up to something decent over a year.

I think the crux is that aspect of support versus purchase. If the primary intent, expressed even by the low dollar amount, is for me to indicate that I agree with someone, that is a conflict, even if there's no "corruption" to use GG's favorite word. I am not corrupted by giving money, nor the recipient by receiving it. But it does indicate the basis of a relationship, and should be disclosed. When I give $25 to a Kickstarter campaign, it's both de minimus and it doesn't indicate that I care for more than the value of what I'll get in return.

I supported Brianna Wu's Kickstarter campaign to bring Revolution 60 to Windows for $25, but I don't own a PC, and it was a gesture of support. But I also publicly promoted the Kickstarter, and as someone rallying others to contribute, it would only be fair for me to be clear in writing about the game or Brianna that I was a booster.

It's a problem to try to impose a blanket ban on patronage by journalists and reviewers, and not just because it's seemingly a demand of GamerGate. (In the confusion that is GG, some of the leading voices — represented by the graph of those who profess support for GG and who follow those people — have used crowdfunding and are game designers or writers. And many people cited as being "corrupt" aren't writers or aren't involved in games journalist whatsoever.)

Rather, it boils down to personal agency. Most people who write about games are freelance or independent. Freelancers (like yours truly) are allowed a lot more leeway, because we don't strictly represent a publication. This requires that we disclose more to ensure our editors aren't tripped up by connections they don't know about. But it also means we're more free to engage outside one aspect of our professional lives. Some games writers make games; some game developers also write. Full-time writers face many more restrictions already against what they can do because of that paycheck. Kotaku decided Patreon, for some of the reasons I mention, is simply too entangling in general, and now bans contributions through that means by all their writers.

Part of the irony in GamerGate is the idea that many indie developers and games journalists make robust livings from their work. One trope in GG has it that both categories are nearly entirely comprised of those with parental wealth, trust funds, or millions earned through other means. Yes, GGers seriously believe this.

It's the thought that counts more than the money: if all publications banned all contributors from using Patreon, I would suspect the reduction in patronage would be slight for any individual creator. Most games journalists don't make enough money to support anything heavily.

Three Serious Weekend Stories: Encryption's Ease, Apps' Ecosystems, Patreon's Abusers

For the holiday weekend, I wrote three rather serious stories that may be of interest.

In the Economist, you'll find my feature at the start of the Science and Technology section in print (read online). I noticed a trend that was accelerating: it's easier than ever for people with no interest in tweaking configuration settings or installing special software to have robust encryption for messaging, email, and elsewhere — so good, in fact, that governments are now complaining. My editors agreed, and "Cryptography for dummies" is the result. Governments can still obtain what they need, but not "wholesale": they can't vacuum up all our data and sift it. They'll have to use better police work, and our privacy will be better protected.

At Six Colors, Jason Snell's Apple-focused site, I wrote about the tradeoffs between Web apps and native apps. The difference isn't so much the coding for a lot of apps, which are often thin wrappers around the equivalent of web sites; rather, it's often about the payment, notification, and offline storage offered in an app ecosystem.

And on this very blog, I explained the trouble Patreon is having with settling a policy about users of its subscription-style crowdfunding site that supports creators in the regular production of work. Patreon's policies and enforcement have allowed a literal national socialist and many harassers and abusers to stay onboard. Should Patreon be more determined in kicking out people who, not on Patreon's site, engage in behavior that violates its terms of service?


The Problem with Patreon: Nazis, Pedophilia Pushers, Harassers, and More

This post updated with information about 8chan on December 16.

Patreon is the single greatest thing to come into being to support the ongoing needs of creative people by allowing those who want to ask for financial contributions that allow them the time to make art, music, podcasts, videos, and much more from people who most want to support them. Rather than the tip jar of old or a PayPal link or what have you, Patreon is about direct patronage. Give $X per thing (video, cartoon, song) or $X per month, and that person or group will make those things.

This is a fantastic idea embodied in a site that's celebratory. I kind of love everything about Patreon, and used it myself for over a year (collecting around $3,000) with my podcast The New Disruptors. It's a pretty frictionless way to provide ongoing patronage, and establish a wonderfully direct conduit between people who make ideas and things and their audience. I know dozens of folks for whom Patreon pays the rent up to paying most of what they need to make. Some "superstars" are on the system, too, like Zach Weinersmith, who gets over $8,700 a month for creating cartoons in addition to his other revenue sources.

But Patreon has a problem. It hasn't drawn a bright line about what constitutes acceptable kinds of things to fund. In not drawing that line, it is allowing people who engage in and perpetuate in hate crimes, online abuse, and other forms of harassment to have a forum from which they raise money that lets them perpetuate their ideology. And yet. Where do they re-draw that line to exclude them without throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

I'll focus on three cases that are extreme; I'm sure there are many more, but these three highlight the problem.


Andrew Auernheimer ("weev") is a notorious Internet troll who took credit for orchestrating and being involved in an array of harassment against others, until he decided he could troll everyone again by denying any involvement later. He is a literal national socialist, with a large swastika tattooed on his chest. Most of his public utterances are beyond the pale of acceptable speech in most online forums, and yet carefully calibrated to fall within the provisions of constitutionally protected speech in government-controlled venues. Pando published a superb interview with him in Lebanon that links to a lot of the background as well. It neither overstates him nor plays down his worst attributes.

He became a darling of some because the US government prosecuted him for a ridiculous hacking charge involved AT&T's unsecured iPad account system. He should never have been charged, prosecuted, or convicted, and a judge had him released because of a technicality involving venues. However, that doesn't mitigate the hateful ideology he pursues against both individuals and groups. And he has a Patreon account which raises a modest sum (under $300 per month) as well as promotes his crypto-currency addresses for contributions.

In his Patreon campaign, he carefully avoids blaming Jews and using racial and other obscenities to stay within the ostensible rules. It takes a moment's searching to find out his actual sympathies and the behavior he engages in elsewhere. He notes that he's been banned from another service.


When 4chan, a notoriously freewheeling site that is known for launching pranks and far worse, kicked out the GamerGate forum, 8chan was there to welcome them. 8chan was founded more than a year ago as a no-holds-barred site, in which "free speech" — really, "no site moderation," since 8chan isn't a government entity — was the essential rule.

Daily Dot documented how 8chan's lack of restrictions has led to content that goes beyond unpalatable into the very possibly or absolutely certainly illegal. The site's operator openly finds appalling some of the content on 8chan, but he doesn't make judgments about what is posted. This is why both legally odious and likely illegal (and much actionable) content has migrated to 8chan.

The site's operator uses Patreon to raise funds that cover his costs, and apparently partly or in full allowed him to focus on the site full time. He's currently in the Philippines, apparently working on a joint project with another site.

The Sarkeesian Effect

Two rabid individuals, Jordan Owen and Davis Aurini, use Patreon to receive funds for every monthly update video they make about their movie, The Sarkeesian Effect. Their backers currently fund them at over $9,200 per monthly video.

Owen and Aurini's behavior is well documented. They believe "social justice warriors" (SJWs) have a specific agenda to change society and are succeeding, particularly in the area of game journalist and game development. We Hunted the Mammoth, a site that exposes and dissects the Men's Right Activists (MRAs) movement has a large number of articles about Aurini. Both Owen and Aurini regularly post long videos talking endlessly about Sarkeesian and others.

Their campaign raises more specific issues than Auernheimer's: his threats are of a general variety; their campaign focuses on a single person, who is absolutely in the public eye and clearly qualifies as a public figure. Yet they have kept the tone of their Patreon campaign calm and almost professional. Yet they slip at times:

The lie that Ms. Sarkeesian has perpetuated is that there is no legitimate criticism of her views whatsoever and that anyone who disagrees with her is harassing her.  This, among many other falsehoods, will be debunked in our film."

This skirts the line on personal harassment, but seems to fall just short of it.

As with Auernheimer, it takes no effort at all to determine the nature of their typical behavior outside fundraising.

Should Anything Be Done?

Here's the tough part: should Patreon be considering the behavior of people except on their site, in what is stated or posted there? There are absolutely other Patreon campaigns that tiptoe on the boundaries of topics that I believe strongly in. Under what standard can those campaigns be evaluated without taking a political or personal stance?

Jack Conte, Patreon's founder and half of Pomplamoose, responded around the end of September on Twitter to concerns about The Sarkeesian Effect. Among other things, Conte wrote:

please try to understand. This is so hard - as a society, we must let the fringe have a voice - it's so important, even if we disagree
who doesn't deserve an opportunity to speak. Even murderers get a right to a fair trial, right?

There's a longer post from November signed by the Patreon team that goes into more depth, but seems to continue to focus on the creative angle, rather than sorting out the difference between abuse and a range of free expression.

I find myself trying to sort out whether Jack is right or not. As a neutral platform that doesn't have an opinion about the nature of the content that creators make, it is a horribly slippery slope — even when you have a literal Nazi — when said national-socialist troll isn't posting hateful ideology that violates the rules of the site. Likewise, 8chan may host terrible things, but they don't post those terrible things on Patreon itself, nor do they per se create them, but give a place for such awfulness to fester.

Patreon's terms of use has these three items about content that is posted:

  • Defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights (such as, but not limited to, rights of privacy and publicity) of others.
  • Publish, post, upload, distribute or disseminate any profane, defamatory, infringing, obscene or unlawful topic, name, material or information.
  • Use the Service for any purpose, including, but not limited to posting or creating content, in violation of local, state, national, or international law.

Kickstarter has a quite similar policy on these aspects, though more broadly defined:

We prohibit projects that are illegal, heavily regulated, or potentially dangerous for backers, as well as rewards that the creator did not make. … [later in the list] Offensive material (e.g., hate speech, encouraging violence against others, etc).

For the Owens/Aurini updates, it's possible some of the posted content violates point two, but they may be exceedingly careful again about material posted to Patreon as updates versus what they unleash on their own followers.

Patreon isn't required to either apply a legal standard ("a fair trial"); they're not the government. Free speech isn't absolute in the public sphere, and it's not a requirement for an inclusive online service designed to help people create things. The flip side is that marginalized people, whose opinions are disliked, do find it hard to speak online because the Internet is so largely a commercial space. The positive parts of Reddit and 4chan are that they allow legitimate speech that is difficult to hear a place to flourish and challenge; they too often also permit activity that is blatantly over the line, and that's their fault.

As a result, any approach that limits unpopular points of view that aren't actually violating the principles cited above would remove points of view that you, dear reader, and I also think should be expressed (even when we don't support their stridency or specifics): on one side, anti-SJWs and people who admire Timothy McVeigh without specifically advocating for repeating his behavior; on the other, say, people who believe the police are criminal gangs in America or believe the Tea Party is an evil force that will destroy America.

Far below a legal standard of proof, there's the question of whether Patreon is encouraging speech and behavior that is detrimental to the Patreon community and larger society. I would argue that it is: that in supporting fringe opinion, you can differentiate between activities that intend to incite harassment or harm on others, whether specific individuals or entire peoples. As a Jew who has friends directly and regularly attacked by the component of the gaming community that agrees with Owens and Aurini, I see specific harm that has and could come of such opinions.

And yet. As I gathered the materials for this post, I kept asking myself: can Patreon vet behavior by its creators outside the scope of its site? The answer seems to be yes, but then one has to ask the limits. There are sex-positive and other kinds of creators on the site, yet Patreon bans pornography with a number of specifics, including "anything we forgot to put on this list but makes our users uncomfortable." If those creators are squeaky "clean" on Patreon, but have explicit material elsewhere, should their Patreon campaigns by canceled, too?

I am so not a believer in the slippery slope in most cases, yet I find myself on one. Patreon has to navigate these troubled waters, and is likely up to their neck in the same conundrums I am. It has to draw the line somewhere, and its current mark seems to enable those who wish to cause distress or harm to others. Can that line be moved without destroying what makes Patreon great?

The Latest Articles and Podcasts

As usual, I've been a busy boy, especially regarding podcasts. I have three podcasts I want to launch, and when the The Magazine finishes its run in three weeks, I'll be gearing up to work on all of those. In the meantime, I'm recording all over and filing articles like mad, too. (I've got three more articles queued up that should run later this week at Macworld, the Economist, and Six Colors.)

Recent articles:

Recent podcast appearances:

  • Random Trek, "Collective" from Voyager, back in August. This is Scott McNulty's bold project to randomly go through every episode across all Star Trek series and movies.
  • The Incomparable has split up its radio-play specials into bite-sized servings as The Incomparable Radio Theater! Listen to me as Nicola Tesla, with as good a Serbian accent as I can muster, in Two-Fisted Tales of Tesla (show episodes 0.2 and 0.5). You can also hear me with an exceptionally plummy accident in 0.1 as a character in The Fog.
  • Jason Snell and Dan Moren had Jacqui Cheng and me as guests on Clockwise episode 63 (Nov. 20). It's a strict 30-minute format. In a separately available bonus question, I explain the joys of the Bed Buddy.
  • Jason and I recorded a new episode of The Periodicalist, my irregular show about the future of publishing. In "Episode IV: A New Beginning," we talk about how a company with all the advantages of IDG fell into the innovator's dilemma, me shutting down The Magazine, and Jason booting up several new efforts in his new career.
  • On the Incomparable's main podcast, I appear in episode 220, "Authentic Cop Mustache," discussing webcomics; and episode 221, "Do the Hand-Wavy Thing," rounding  up the recent Doctor Who season. Listen to the extra for episode 221, "Gerbils and Tamagotchis."
  • I appeared on MedaTwits, a PBS videocast/podcast, on Nov. 14 to talk about new models for long-form journalism.

Show Me the Numbers: Serial's Data Transfer Costs

Serial is the most accessed podcast ever from iTunes, according to Apple. By November 18, it was downloaded and streamed 5 million times. The show claims some 1.5 million listeners per episode, of which nine have so far been produced. That would mean nearly 9 million downloads or streaming sessions (assuming people went back to listen to the whole thing) from non-iTunes sources, which seems high, but would also indicate a better distribution of means by which people obtain podcasts, which is good for all podcasters!

David Carr, the lead media reporter at the New York Times, wrote that the episodes were downloaded "at a cost of nothing," which may refer to what it costs to deliver or what listeners pay; hard to tell. But I'd like to guess at the amount. What does it cost to deliver that many episodes?

Let's take the notion for simplicity that roughly 13.5 million downloads or equivalent streams occurred evenly over three months, or 4.5 million downloads a month. Episode 9 is typical and roughly 30 megabytes (MB). That's 135 terabytes (TB) per month. (Yes, some months would be more and others less, but still good for estimating.)

Via Amazon S3, Serial would have paid $12,000 a month or $36,000 so far. Amazon charges on usage, not on a monthly basis. (It charges for storage on a monthly basis, but all the podcast files together aren't even half a gigabyte.)

But, as my information technology friends tell me, that's way too much to pay; instead, Serial is using a content distribution network (CDN), which is designed to take media files and feed them out a bazillion times more cheaply and efficiently. Serial's CDN, Highwinds, doesn't publish its rates and any CDNs only offer private estimates, but MaxCDN has a rate schedule. Serial would pick the 150 TB per month plan, which runs $6,144 per month plus 4¢ a GB over 150 TB ($40 per extra TB). That would be over $18,000 so far. CacheFly has a bandwidth calculator, and reckons a bit over $3,700 per month for 135 TB, or about $11,000 so far.

If Serial has cut an excellent deal, piggybacking as one expects on This American Life's downloads, it's probably paying the least possible, and that sub-$4,000 per month figure seems accurate. But in public radio, that's the same cost as part or all of a full-time entry-level-or-above position. If the show becomes more popular, the costs go up as well, where conventional radio distribution has a very high fixed cost and none of these sorts of high variable costs for extremely popular programs. Some podcast and audio hosting sites, like Libsyn and SoundCloud, absorb some or all of the bandwidth costs — but they're still paying the piper, even if they bill $0 to the podcast producers.

Over time, the price of data transfer has dropped relatively quickly, but it doesn't plummet nearly as fast as hard drives or hosted storage. In 2006, Amazon charged 16¢ per GB for downstream transfer (its servers to the Internet); in 2014, it's 33% lower, or 12¢ per GB. In the same time, hard drive storage dropped from 60¢ per GB to 3¢, or a 95% drop.

Increasingly successful podcasts will need to budget serious sums that, as listenership grows and prices slowly drop, might stay constant for a while, and be a significant line item in the budget.

A T-Shirt Celebrating The Magazine

With our friends at Cotton Bureau, The Magazine is offering a limited-time-availability T-shirt to commemorate our 28-month run, which ends next month. The color is from Issue #1. The back shows our three-diamond "end of story" icon and our run date.

This shirt is an American Apparel Tri-Blend Tri-Black with long-lasting ink — I've got others from Cotton Bureau using this method, and they remain vibrant and stand up to many, many washings.


Mediatwits: Long-Form Journalism

I appear on today's Mediatwits, speaking from my experience at The Magazine. The show's description:


Long-form journalism is seeing something of a resurgence on the web. While many people believe digital media has pushed people toward short, bite-sized listicles, deeper stories continue to resonate when they hit the right audience. Plus, online publications such as Atavist, The Verge and even BuzzFeed regularly publish long-form pieces.