Prometheus Unbound:
The Birth of Internet Broadcasting

by Wandarer

   In this jaded twentieth-cum-twenty-first century western world, grown jaundiced by the apparent sameness of life, disenchantment with fad and the inevitable co-opting of anything good by the society-at-large, one might ALMOST forgive an otherwise incorrigible Yetinsyny for not recognizing a truly bona-fide REVOLUTION when he stumbles on one - almost, but not quite, especially in light of the fact that if he DID recognize the nature of the revolution of which I will speak, he'd quite likely run naked through the streets, proclaiming it to everyone, everywhere, day and night, and loudly.

   No, I'm not talking about the Internet - not exclusively - that's a whole OTHER revolution in itself that can, may and currently is fundamentally changing the ways in which an entire subculture of western mortals live their lives. It is, however, the very engine by which the revolution of which I will speak is powered. That revolution is the PC Broadcasting revolution - or in other words, Internet Broadcasting.

real audio player   It often takes a long time for a people to get really hip with a innovation when it comes 'round. Almost as often, the initial response to a given innovation has often reflected their inexperience with it, and their immature appreciation of it. Saint Rev. Baron Von Richthofen might have been able to say a thing or two about this in his old age if they weren't designing planes for acrobatic ability rather than speed in his day - took 'em twenty more years to figure out speed was more important, and that at a time when the manned flight phenomenon was in it's mid-teens. But, the aerial bible said "Thou Shalt Build Planes To Be Maneouverable", & it took some time to get hip to the truth. So it has been in terms of the internet - that is, folks see files on a net & see only that and little more - while others are beginning to see & understand them for what they are in essence - *broadcast segments*.

   Got a web page with stuff for folks to see or hear? Guess what? You're broadcastin'. You've got people tuned in to you & they're recievin' your signal. It's identical in practice to sending or receiving a TV, Radio or Cable signal. Pretty heady stuff when you think about it, but the differences are even headier - for on the internet, one single individual can broadcast whatever one wants to clear across the globe, with no controls exercised over content except one's own, quite literally at the fingertips of an already-qualified audience that can find your site on the web by looking through search engines for exactly what you have - as opposed to a TV viewer or Radio listener, who has to wait for the broadcaster to get 'round to playing something they only conceivably *might* be interested in.

   At this point, some MIGHT be forgiven for thinking this is all a lot of abstract simile. If you're one, then guess again, buddy - cuz Internet Broadcasting has come of age & is here NOW, redefining what came before & defining what will come after it - and it's come in the form of RealAudio Internet Radio.

   Very simply, the RealAudio Corporation has come out with a brand-new internet sound format, RealAudio 3.0, that allows you to hear sound files as they download with unprecedented sound quality and clarity. In fact, it sounds so good you can literally barely tell it from a FM radio broadcast. Combine that with the fact that the RealAudio 3.0 encoding software for making these sound files is FREE - yes, FREE, thanks to yet another child of the internet revolution, the Freeware software revolution - and you have a fundamental revolution in the empowerment of the individual to make their voice heard.

cool edit sound app   Got a band? Frustrated that you aren't getting heard, or can't get people to hear or buy your stuff? With RealAudio 3.0, for the first time, you can broadcast it to the world in FM quality and it will cost you nothing. Frustrated DJ? With RealAudio 3.0, rather than needing a job at, let alone own, a radio station with an antennae & overhead & staff & licences, etc., etc., etc., all you need is a 1993 or better computer, a run-of-the-mill sound card and a modem, and you're ALWAYS on the air, day or night, sleeping or waking, playing exactly what you want to play, for free. Underground tape collector? Now, you can collect & trade this very same material as FM quality sound files on the internet, reaping the added benefit of having a worldwide network of folks with similar material with which to trade, let alone a worldwide audience, and all of that at the tip of one's fingers, available anytime, anywhere from here to Shanghai.

   At the CotSG Audio Administry we were, for some number of months, under the impression, as was everyone else we knew, that one needed to own some very expensive server software to broadcast individual sound files in RealAudio format. Indeed, RealAudio's website did nothing to make this issue clear, compounding this impression, such poor clarity being either by chance or, as we may well suspect, design. It was simply because ole Wandarer got restless about all this that he found out, simply by fooling around with it, that RealAudio files could be made to stream, i.e. play while downloading, by simply following a simple procedure we will mention further on. At first we wondered if we had somehow done something wrong, something that the RealAudio Corporation might get angry with us for doing; but then we noticed that some other web masters were doing the same thing the same way. After a serious of urgent email consultations between some very excited & enthused people, we went ahead & made the first "Hour of Slack" in RealAudio for show #563. It is interesting, therefore, be it coincidental or otherwise, that a mere two days after we started streaming "The Hour of Slack" in RealAudio that the RealAudio Corporation put up a new page at their website, pejoratively called the "HTTP Pseudo-Streaming" Page, which process is now at least clearly defined by them as being different than their $$$ LIVE RealAudio broadcasting. It is now our mission to get every true-blooded yeti to stream their own RealAudio files as we have done.

   To this end, I'm including my unofficial FAQ on streaming RealAudio 3.0 sound files on the World Wide Web. It's the result of Wandarer's original investigations combined with RealAudio's streaming page material, the latter edited for clarity:

   Before you can stream clips through HTTP, you must define the following MIME types for your Web server:

   Some World Wide Web servers are pre-configured with these MIME types.

   Note: If you are running a web page off an ISP server, send mail to the ISP administrator asking them to setup the RealAudio mime type.

To stream RealAudio content using HTTP:

  1. Upload your RealAudio files (files with the .ra extension) to your webspace.
  2. Use a text editor (such as Notepad) to create a metafile containing the url of your RealAudio file - i.e.:
  3. Save this metafile as a text file with an .ram extention - i.e.:
    and upload it to your webspace.
  4. In the HTML document which you wish to have access your RealAudio file, hyperlink to the .ram file - i.e.:
    <A HREF="myrealaudiofile.ram">
    <A HREF="http://myhostname/mydirectory/myrealaudiofile.ram">
    and upload that HTML document to your webspace.
  5. Now, when a user clicks on this link, the RealAudioPlayer will open, and the RealAudio file will begin playing after a few seconds; it won't have to wait for the entire file to be downloaded.

       With this information, very literally, you are now empowered to broadcast your own personal agenda as far and wide as you want. If utilized to it's full potential, it will not only revolutionize broadcasting in a way not seen since the early days of radio - it will revolutionize the power of the individual voice to a degree unprecedented in history. The rest is up to you.

    Jim Kaelin 1997

    Wandarer -- Jim Kaelin -- is responsible for most of the real audio material on SubSite.

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