I have been away for the weekend in London and just twenty minutes ago switched on my laptop to a staggering array of emails, messages and suchlike.
I'm priviliged to say that I was one of the very first podcasters in the UK, right back in the heady days when the code had just been formulated, there were no real aggregators, no Itunes and just lots of excitement at a new medium that was set to dominate.
Then there was the idea to set up a community - I'd been talking about that for ages, I purchased www.podpub.org but was plased to hear that a new forum was being set up - Britcaster was born and what a great place that was / still is. Still is for the next two weeks that is. I learnt less than half an hour ago that this is to evaporate on...my birthday. I feel really sad - it's a place I've visted near daily for the last two years. I've met some great people on there and made some great friends.
Why? I'm grateful for the hard work of Jen and Neil Dixon, but have to ask why the forum is going? What possible purpose other than lack of time to moderate is the reason? If this is the reason - we can find moderators. I think I'm perhaps well placed to ask the quesion as I've invested so much time and effort there over the last two years. I think I've earnt the dubious mantle of having the most posts.
Rather than allow a wonderful community to die - I ask in an open letter here for Jen and Neil to allow the forums to remain open, I'm happy to pay the continuing subs for the domain name. I don't care who 'owns' it - Neil and Jen, why not retain ownership? Problem solved.
It's often been said that Britcaster was never a commercial venture and I'm pleased about that, it would be a tragedy to see something that was and is such a great community benefit to be anything else than that, and we've had the reassurance it's not anyway.
It's great that there are a couple of other forums already, but, I'd ask folks just to sit tight and wait so that we can see if we can keep the original name that most of us know and love in situ. There's no hidden agenda, no side-swipe. I'm just saddened at the fact that a whole community could fragment in two weeks. The celebration of the community was Podcastcon 2006 - and yes, I'm definitely going to continue this. I think it's important that the conference should be organised independently at grass roots level.
Back in the day when this whole thing started, there were no networks, names, clubs or badges. Things evolve and as well as I understand this, I would urge people to stay in community and not to run in disparate groups. UKPA was an idea to forge community and some have embraced it, some not, I can't understand those who haven't embraced it, but I respect their point of view. Similarly, Podshow have some folks, some not. If you're not a UKPA member, no worry, respect those who are. If you're not a podshow artist, again, respect those who aren't, and if you aren't, respect those who are. The truth is that both UKPA and Podshow have some great podcasts - and some naff ones too. There are no kite marks of quality: your meat may be my poison and vice versa.
Whatever network, group, or club you're in, if you are involved in this wonderful media, please, continue to talk to each other and remember we're still all in this together.