this WEEK in TECHTemplate:Ndash casually referred to as TWiT, and formerly known as Revenge of the Screen SaversTemplate:Ndash is an award winning, weekly podcast (and occasional videocast) of the TWiT.tv network . Hosted by Leo Laporte and many other former TechTV employees, it features roundtable discussions and debates surrounding current technology news and reviews, with a particular focus on consumer electronics.
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. Light conversation often takes place about panelists' recent projects or work, before Laporte's reading of the week's major technology headlines. Panelists respond to each headline with "round table" comment, discussion and debate, however it often drives conversation to different and sometimes unrelated directions. This causes the length of each episode to vary, sometimes considerably, from show to show.
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 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 which also contributed.
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.
The first filmed episode, TWiT 21, was recorded at the San Francisco Apple Store on September, 4, 2005. Kevin Rose's Revision3 crew recorded the show, later releasing the first ever video edition of This Week In Tech. Episodes 22 through 24 were recorded at Noonan's Bar and Grill in Larkspur Landing, California, but while Revision3 continued to provide hosting and bandwidth, Alex Lindsay's Pixel Corps began to regularly produce video installments of the program.
Since Laporte decided to move away from the video format, there is no official site hosting the video installments, many of which can no longer be found.
Laporte has recently started a site at Twitlive.tv which uses Stickam.com to present shows live using both video and audio, as well as a chat client to allow viewers to partake in the recording of the TWiT shows.
Distribution and licensingEdit
All episodes are licensed under the Creative Commons attribution share-alike noncommercial license, and are distributed via direct download from the TWiT.tv website (of which a new version was launched on July 13, 2006), or from Apple's iTunes Store. 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, and ~64 kbit/s Ogg Vorbis. 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. It appears that TWiT is now served solely through CacheFly.
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 5th 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, however this granted access to an exclusive TWiT forum from episode 40 onwards. 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 podcast contributors comes from the networks sponsors and not from listener funding. Starting from episode 99, Audible has offered a promotion on TWiT whereby listeners who sign up for the Audible service can choose one free audiobook. This promotion was initially open only to residents of the U.S but was later expanded, with some restrictions, to other countries.
Several episodes of the show prompted strong listener opinions on the TWiT.tv message boards. Episode 57, taped at the Apple Store in San Francisco, featured a large panel where the participants couldn't hear each other well, and a spirited argument between guest panelists Andrew Baron and Jason Calacanis. Laporte also mentioned that he had received several notes from listeners that he was regarded as gay-bashing. Laporte invited disgruntled listeners to edit the source audio into more listenable versions, some of which he posted on the web site. Episodes featuring Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak also attracted a large number of negative listener comments, particularly episode 40, in which Wozniak discussed his laser collection, and using lasers to trick motorists into thinking they were being followed by emergency vehicles, at length, though many listeners posted more positive comments about his subsequent appearances.
On October 22nd 2006, a blog posting surfaced on the TWiT.tv website to announce two weeks of absence for This Week In Tech. Laporte explained that the break was partly due to an upcoming technology cruise, but stressed that it was also the result of the show's panelists deciding to all 'play hookey at the same time.' It became apparent that the latter had raised serious concerns with Laporte when he proceeded to declare the show as being 'on life support with the heart monitor flatlining.', most likely because of refusal from some of the show's regular panelists to contribute to the show more if Laporte didn't give back by doing so on their respective shows. The posting became one of the week's top stories on Digg having attracted almost 500 comments in less than 4 days.
On October 26, 2006, Laporte posted a follow-up to his original article, titled "OK OK!", in which he said that he, "had no idea what a storm [his] little sentence would generate," confirming the fact that he was merely, "tired, dispirited and trying to figure out how to do the show without any contributors." Following e-mail communication with the panelists, he also promised the continued recording of This Week in Tech so long as listener demand remained strong. After this, Laporte noticeably stopped mentioning several of the panelists' names, and started inviting new people to help with the show on a regular basis, replacing some of the original hosts.
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