Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Pencasting professional development

Livescribe recently sent me an Echo smartpen to try out for an article I wrote on digital pens. I’ve been geeking out on the thing ever since. As part of my geeking out, I’ve been creating “pencasts” and this blog post contains one.

Pencasts, in a nutshell, play back a recording and “fill in” notes taken during said recording (in this case, during a professional development session during MagNet 2011, a Magazines Canada conference).

The session was on becoming a subject matter expert (which presenter Ann Douglas gleefully called a “smee”). Thanks, Ann, for your permission to publish this pencast.

Here it is. Let me know what you think. Would you find this type of tool useful?

Pencast playback instructions

  • Click anywhere in the notes to hear what Ann was saying at that moment. (A red dot appears under your mouse pointer.)
  • You might need to wait a minute or two for the audio. It didn’t start right away on my system, although it works fine in Adobe Reader (I created a pencast PDF of my seminar notes for myself) and Livescribe Desktop software.
  • To better read my writing chicken scratch, click the full screen icon in the top right corner of the notes.

Pencast technical details

  • I sat in the front row of the meeting room.
  • I used external mics embedded in a custom set of earbuds to get what Livescribe calls “binaural” sound.
  • Ann was between 10 and 15 feet away from me.
  • For comparison, you can hear me speaking at about the 1:15:00 mark (and laughing and chugging down water at other times).
  • The original paper was lined.
  • Posting this pencast was tricky (I hope it shows up today!). WordPress did accept it after several tries, but I later had to fix the link. I then resorted to a third-party video posting tool called VodPod (which I hope continues to work).
  • I pared down the “Embed this file” code offered by Livescribe Desktop to the “pure” embed code.
  • If you’re curious, here’s the article I wrote about smartpens.