After seven months of producing the Ape Reality podcast, I decided to put the recordings on hold - potentially indefinitely.

When I began recording Ape Reality, I held the view that podcasting was in exponential growth. This should have meant tens of thousands, if not millions, of potential listeners could have the opportunity to hear Ape Reality. Whilst I appreciate in any given group only a small fraction would be interested in artificial life development, my sense was the numbers of podcast listeners and the substantial increase in podcast listenership would promote a new kind of dialog which would bring new users to the Noble Ape development.

Initially I found the listener base grew dramatically and then remained relatively static. I tried to track this phenomenon. I attempted to correspond with a number of the ''names'' in the ''podcasting community'' to try to get more information with little success. Following my suspension of Ape Reality, I purchased a book on podcasting and found that the author's listener base remained static from when the book was published through to this day. In fact, the only noticeable jump in listenership came when Apple announced that iTunes would accept podcasts.

In short, there is no growth in podcast listeners. Those who listen to podcasts seem to exist in a community similar to the weblog community and other relatively insular technology communities. If I am going to invest time explaining artificial life to the broadest possible audience, I should pick my methods carefully.


Following this analysis, I will maintain the podcast into the new year as Conversations.

The conversations will provide an interesting resource in the future similar to the Conference audio I have been putting in the Interviews feed.

The Conversations take a group of artificial life developers and academics and pose questions like ''What is the meaning of artificial life?'' These questions have a broader interest and merit some detailed discussion. The initial interest from a diverse group of contributors is very positive.


In addition to the Conversations podcast, I introduced the Wiki to assist with inter-project collaboration. This has been challenging in the past. So much so, that there is a Conversation topic on this difficult issue.

Since Dave Kerr contacted me roughly four years ago, I have made collaborative efforts between Noble Ape and other developments a high priority. The current collaborative developments relating to Noble Ape are included in the Wiki;

In addition to this is Mridul's work. Mridul's project for the new year will see Noble Ape/Noble Warfare and NEAT combined together with additional AI structural ideas. This would create a battle simulation with all the benefits of both NEAT and Noble Ape together with considerable additional AI integration smarts. I am looking forward to seeing this project develop.

Happy New Year!

And, hope all is well with you all,

Tom Barbalet, 30 December 2006.

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