If you ever happen to be in the sleepy little town of Petaluma, California just North of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge then keep your eyes out for a small grey house with a sign outside that says TWiT Cottage. GeekBeat.TV is a part of a greater tech and gadget podcasting / new media space and one of the oldest podcasts in that space is TWiT (This Week in Tech) which is over 5 years old. Cali has been a guest on TWiT numerous times, including this last week (TWiT 258). The TWiT Cottage in Petaluma is the world headquarters for an experiment in new media that is still unfolding. Leo Laporte is the main personality behind what is now a network of shows being produced in this unlikely studio.
The differences between old media and new media are pretty obvious when you visit the cottage. Anyone can email Leo’s sister Eva to ask to attend a show taping (firstname.lastname@example.org). There are no tickets, no security guard at the gate like in the movies, no gate for that matter, and what passes for a green room is a covered porch with free wi-fi, a chess set and a wine fridge. The Cottage is decorated in “Early American Tech” with magazine ads for the Apple Lisa, Microsoft Multiplan and Wang Computers. These ads document how far technology has come since Leo has been reporting on it. It has progressed to the point that the equipment necessary to create a world-wide audience of technophiles can now fit in a small studio and an old kitchen closet.
The cottage has two floors with Leo’s office, and editing room and another office upstairs and an office, kitchen and the main studio downstairs. When there are 4 people in the studio as there were Monday for the live streaming of Tech News Today then there is barely room in the studio for one more chair off camera for a “studio audience”. But within that cramped space are at least six video cameras, 4 microphones, a tricaster, at least 8 flat screens, and more computer power than it took to put men on the moon.
The cottage is a historic building. It was constructed in 1912 originally as the Cavanagh Cottage by a lumber baron John W. Cavanagh who arrived in town in 1867. The Cavanagh Lumber Company went out of business in the 1970s, which means it had a run of more than 100 years. Cavanagh’s old cottage is now part of a larger experiment in media. The TWiT network is not even close to that longevity in “internet years”, but if this new media experiment works out perhaps this little cottage will have one more claim to fame.
If you can’t get to Petaluma then you can take a video tour of the cottage.