Pragmatic on Constellation

22nd April 2014

When Ben Alexander asked if I wanted to do a show with him as part of his new "podcasting syndicate1" called "Fiat Lux" late last year, I had no idea the amount of depth he had with his vision for where he wanted to improve on podcasts as an art-form and media-format. (I just wanted to make the podcast I’d always wanted to make)

It started out like many other podcasts do with a SquareSpace front end, Libsyn on the backend, RSS feed for iTunes and Podcatchers to latch on to and some links in the show notes. As this was happening in the background Ben had assembled a team of great people that shared his vision for a better way to get podcast content from the creators to the end listeners including: Jamie Ryan, Sid O’Neill and Lorenzo Guddemi. In the last two months it became clear to me that a lot of work was going on in the background and I was approached by Ben with a concept.

What if there was a better way?

The two big problems that Constellation solves (from my perspective and just for the moment: more features are coming) are firstly show notes are now essentially full-form articles (for Pragmatic) with show notes embedded in the content in context: no longer are they bulletised lists of links. Secondly the player is embedded in the webpage (that’s nothing new) but allows chapters to be linked directly on the web based on the chapters and segments. This makes each episode searchable2, easily referrable and linkable. For a show like Pragmatic - that’s a huge deal.

What Constellation is

Same network with a new name? Sort of:

  • Constellation is the name of the network
  • Fiat Lux is the company behind the network (It’s analogous to Fox News being part of News Corp)

Previously both had been the same but the leap forward the site/delivery methods have taken demanded a new name.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are there only a small number of Pragmatic episodes on Constellation? A: I prepared four episodes with Chapter indexes and detailed show notes ready for the site launch with another episode updated and due to be posted in a few days. Eventually all episodes including follow-up episodes will be posted to Constellation.

Q: Why are you updating old shows? People have listened already haven’t they? A: For people that haven’t listened already this is the new standard I want Pragmatic to conform to consistently and it will eventually apply to all episodes of the show. For existing listeners this will make it significantly easier to go back and reference content from existing episodes. Most importantly: I care about the quality of what has been produced and want to make it better. Status-quo isn’t acceptable.

Q: It’s a lot of extra effort? A: That’s not a question professor. Not as much as you may think. I already spend a lot of time creating detailed notes for my own use, so breaking them into segments and making them readable is not too much extra work. The benefits of searchability, indexing and a more polished result are more than worth that extra effort.

Q: Why has Pragmatic been late recently? A: There’s only so much time available and in that time I’ve been updating past episodes rather than making new ones and shortly will be dealing with long-standing health issues. Pragmatic will not have a new episode for a few weeks however rest assured, we’ve still got lots of topics to cover and with all the great feedback I’ve got a backlog of follow up episodes just waiting to be recorded.

Q: Will companion articles still be posted on TechDistortion? A: A slightly modified version of the show notes for each episode may be cross-posted on TechDistortion if I believe its a standalone article that fits with the site. Companion articles however will no longer be done in their current form, no.

What do you, the listener, think?

Clearly the team behind Constellation and the other hosts on Constellation believe that what we’re doing is a step fowards. Ultimately though it’s you, the listener, that matters the most. We’re very keen to hear your thoughts on the new design, show structures, whatever you like/dislike and of course suggestions. We’re doing this for you.

As always you can contact me via the Feedback form or contact any of the Constellation team with any feedback you may have.


  1. The site is no longer referred to as a Syndicate however that was its name at the time. 

  2. Some people argued that transcription was the right answer however the problem is that spoken word doesn’t transcribe directly into easy to read text. The focus shifts from one speaker to another and back again in natural conversation that makes it painful to read. Although it’s just as searchable, transcriptions are just not as readable and since they are read and not listened to they aren’t as useful.