This Week in Tech
|This Week in Tech|
The TWiT logo
|Debut||April 17, 2005|
This Week in Tech–casually referred to as TWiT, and briefly known as Revenge of the Screen Savers–is the weekly flagship podcast of the TWiT.tv network. It is hosted by Leo Laporte and many other former TechTV employees and is currently produced by Chad Johnson. It features roundtable discussions and debates surrounding current technology news and reviews, with a particular focus on consumer electronics and the Internet. TWiT now broadcasts from the TWiT 'brickhouse' studios, as of the 24th July 2011. The brickhouse is based in Petaluma, California, USA, a few blocks away from the former TWiT 'cottage', from which they broadcast for over 6 years.
Following the show's number, title, sponsors and theme tune, Leo Laporte typically begins an episode of TWiT by introducing the week's panelists one-by-one, allowing each panelist to discuss his or her recent projects or work. The main portion of the show consists of a round-table discussion and debate, pegged loosely to a selection of the week's major technology headlines. The format of the show encourages spontaneity and the conversation often diverges wildly from technology topics. This causes the length of each episode to vary, sometimes considerably, from show to show. Each episode typically features three or four commercial breaks, usually in the form of a "live read" from Leo that may include interaction with the panelists (e.g., Leo usually prompts guests for recommended audiobooks during spots for frequent advertiser Audible.com). The show closes with each panelist giving a personal "plug" for their affiliated website or Twitter account.
Opening theme of TWiT since 2005
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The top ten most frequent recurring guests on TWiT include John C. Dvorak, Patrick Norton, Wil Harris, Kevin Rose, Robert Heron, David Prager, Tom Merritt, Roger Chang, Dwight Silverman and Jason Calacanis. Other guests include Becky Worley, Steve Gibson, Xeni Jardin, Alex Lindsay, Owen Stone, Veronica Belmont and Molly Wood.
The show has had a number of famous guests, including Steve Wozniak, Kevin Mitnick, John Hodgman, Lawrence Lessig, artist Roger McGuinn, and Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge) and Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher).
The program began when Laporte recorded a one-off "roundtable" discussion between himself, Patrick Norton, Sarah Norton, Kevin Rose, David Prager, and Roger Chang at the 2005 Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Having published the show on his blog to an incredible public reception, Laporte decided to rename his original recording "episode 0" and turned the round table concept into a weekly downloadable audio file, or 'podcast', featuring more cast members from his former TechTV program The Screen Savers. The first episode was posted on Monday, April 18, 2005 as "Revenge of The Screen Savers", but was temporarily renamed "Return of the [BEEP]" in response to a cease and desist letter sent to Laporte by copyright-holder Comcast. In episode 2, Laporte announced a contest in which listeners could suggest a new name for the show. One listener suggested This Week in Geek, which inspired Laporte to create with the eventual name, This Week in Tech, or TWiT.
The weekly show was recorded with all of the hosts staying at their respective homes and talking via Voice over IP (mostly using Skype). Starting around episode 10, Norton began physically coming to Leo's Petaluma office during the taping. Upon Rose's announcement that he was moving to San Francisco, Laporte started to gather the panelists for public live tapings in the San Francisco area, most being videotaped and released as a video podcast download.
During the fall of 2005, several of the previously regular hosts started moving on to other projects, which changed the format of the show from being a show with a core group of hosts and occasional guests, into Laporte being the only regular host, inviting in a variety of different people from show to show. Around the same time, the people responsible for filming the shows, the Pixel Corps and their leader, Alex Lindsay became more involved with the show, many of whom also contributed.
At one point, TWiT was offered in the most formats of any podcast on the network. These included a standard 64 kbit/s MP3, low-bandwidth 16 kbit/s MP3, Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), and Ogg Vorbis versions. However, Leo Laporte announced the ending of the Ogg Vorbis version in August 2009 and finally the AAC and low bandwidth versions in early November 2009. The reasoning was the time and energy it took to encode all the versions of TWiT wasn't justified by the number of people choosing to listen to the show in those alternative formats. The show is usually posted every Monday morning at 1 a.m. Eastern to minimize the impact on the hosting company's servers.
As well as having been ranked #1 on Podcast Alley, Yahoo Podcasts, and the iTunes Podcast Directory (where it records around 315,000 downloads a week), it has also won two Podcast Awards, as both the "People's Choice" and as "Best Technology Podcast". This WEEK in TECH also made Time Magazine's Top 10 Podcasts of 2006, ranked 9th. It also won Podcast of the Year from the 2007 Weblog Awards.
TWiT began as an audio podcast, although several episodes were filmed in the first few years of the show. Starting in 2008, the show was made available for live streaming in both audio and video formats. Since episode 215 in October 2009, the show has been available weekly as both an audio and video download.
Distribution and licensing
All episodes are licensed under the Creative Commons attribution share-alike noncommercial license, and are distributed via direct download from the TWiT.tv website, from Apple's iTunes Store, or as a subscription using the Zune software 2.0 or higher. There is no download charge from either source.
The show is typically available in four formats: 64 kbit/s MP3, 32 kbit/s MP3, 64 kbit/s AAC. Occasionally, other bitrates are used for episodes produced in stereo, however most episodes are monaural. The files are available as direct downloads, with bandwidth provided by AOL and Cachefly. The occasional video episodes are available from Libsyn.
The sponsorship deal with America Online was announced on July 4, 2005, following the server demand that resulted from the release of iTunes 4.9's built-in podcasting directory. Since the new TWiT website was launched, the TWiT Torrent server initially preferred by Laporte has ceased operation. In several episodes, Laporte has noted that the distributed nature of BitTorrent makes it impossible to accurately gauge the popularity of the show, decreasing the likelihood of attracting advertisers. As of episode 174, TWiT is being hosted from AOL Radio.
Laporte stated in episode 3 that the show would always remain free and without advertising. However, due to ongoing costs as a result of TWiT.tv's constant expansion, a roadmap for the introduction of podcast and web-based advertising was announced during episode 45 of This WEEK in TECH. On 5 September 2006, TWiT.tv officially became one of the first major advertising-supported podcast networks, sponsored initially by both Visa and Dell. Listeners have always been invited to support the network by means of an automatic PayPal subscription or one-time payment. In the past, this granted access to an exclusive TWiT forum which no longer exists, yet donations are still being submitted. Listener funding has been used for the operational costs of the network including improvements to Laporte's recording studio and to purchase radio-quality microphones and digital audio-recording devices for the hosts. Financial compensation for the network mostly comes from the networks sponsors. Sponsors of the Network include Ford, Audible, Lantronix, Squarespace, Hulu, Rackspace, Hover, Carbonite, Stamps.com and more.
Before recording started for this WEEK in TECH 268 on 3 October 2010, while discussing the sale of TechCrunch to AOL, Laporte mentioned that his network would “do three to four [million US$]” in advertising revenue for 2010. Based on the increase in the number of sponsored programs as well as the increase in sponsors, the 2013 gross revenue is estimated to be in the eight million dollar range.
- "TWiT Live Specials 87". Twit.Tv. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "this WEEK in TECH 2". Twit.Tv. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Top 10 Everything 2006". Time.
- Maria Bunai (2006-12-20). "ranked 9th in Podcasts from Time Magazine". Time MAgazine. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
- Best Podcast - The 2007 Weblog Awards
- "TWiT 174". Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- Justin.tv video broadcast, TWiT Live, 15:01 PDT Sunday 3 October 2010
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