11 Av 5772 - 30 July 2012
One of the hardest things to do is to take a project for which one had high hopes and give up on it.
Today, I'm sad to announce that the Dafcast project is on "indefinite hiatus."
For those who haven't been following this, the Dafcast was an idea I had a few years ago for a different kind of Daf Yomi podcast. All DY podcasts that I've heard have been recordings of a maggid shiur reading the daf and explaining it as he goes. My idea was to actually turn the Talmud into a podcast, using the "news/talk radio" idioms of panel discussions, interviews, and news reports as appropriate to the various sugyot.
Before I could write the scripts, though, I needed an English rendition of the Talmud to start from, and all the existing ones are either under copyright or otherwise unusable. (And I had issues with both Soncino and Artscroll anyway; my ideal was the Steinsaltz but Random House had abandoned translating those into English, and at the time I didn't know what Koren was planning.)
So I figured, hey, it's the Internet age; I bet I could crowdsource this, and get a few hundred interested people to each volunteer to translate three to five dapim. But I was wrong.
Next I wrote a web-based closed-corpus translation system, and tried to do it myself. I made excellent progress at first, but then I realized that even if I put in an hour a day, it would take me about ten years to finish all the detail work. And it would mean basically not working on any of my other projects for that decade --- and we *still* wouldn't have scripts, much less a podcast, just a mediocre translation whose only advantage would be that it was freely licensed for reuse by others.
When I posted on my blog a couple of weeks ago, asking for a "sanity check" on whether or not to continue, the response convinced me that I should devote my time to my other projects.
Meanwhile, Koren has started publishing an English version of Rabbi Steinsaltz's explication of the Talmud, which is going to fill the niche that I saw. It's under copyright, so I can't use it as the basis for my podcast idea, but the Aleph Society has been making great use of modern media, so I'm going to send them a link to this post. Maybe they'll like my idea --- they'd do a much better job of producing it than I would, anyway.
So, with regret, I'm mothballing the Dafcast website. I'm not deleting the website yet, but unless someone else wants to take it on, this is probably not a case of "Hadran Alach" -- "We will return to you."
I thank the handful of volunteers who submitted translations and comments over the last few years. I thank those who supported me in my original vision. I thank those who helped me face the reality that this was not a good use of my time and talents.
And I look forward to learning Daf Yomi in cycle 13, and hope b'ezrat Hashem to make it through all 2,711 pages this time.
The Cycle 12 site remains live at cycle12.dafcast.net and the prototype for the Cycle 13 site is at cycle13.dafcast.net.