Wakefield, Qc web business offers audio talks for ‘nerds on the go’


by admin on November 19, 2009

Ever wanted to learn about Chinese history on your morning run? Or perhaps about the modern crime of stalking on the commute to work?

A new Wakefield-based company aims to deliver just that via the internet.

Michael Valerio recently launched Yourprof, the new website that offers 30-minute lecture-style talks by university professors on a wide range of topics.

Geared toward the “life-long learner”, Valerio said Yourprof offers a new avenue for those interested in knowledge for its own sake. Working people and parents often don’t have time to read massive history volumes or attend seminars, but his talks are digestible on a commute or while making dinner without descending to Reader’s Digest-type simplification.

“I like to think of them as something for nerds on the go,” quipped the 36-year-old.

Ever wondered if celebrity stalking was around when grandma mooned over Cary Grant? University of Portsmouth English literature professor Bran Nicol delivers a history of celebrity stalking and an explanation for its modern heyday in one of Valerio’s favourites of the 25 lectures currently available.

Other topics include “Churchill’s Military Romanticism”, a series on ethics in global health research, and biographies of prominent figures in Chinese history. He plans to continually add new talks to the website.

A former acquisitions editor for a publishing company in Toronto dealing in university textbooks, Valerio came up with the idea for Yourprof a few years ago during the iPod’s ascendance. He was listening to BBC and TVO podcasts and thought a market existed for “original, authoritative content in a convenient format.” He left his job two years ago, moved to Wakefield and committed full time to Yourprof, which officially launched Oct. 5.

While some universities use their websites to offer free lectures where a camera is simply installed in the classroom, Valerio wanted to make sure he could offer something original and engaging specifically for the people outside the lecture hall. No snoozing to droning profs at the back of the classroom at Yourprof.

Valerio scanned university websites for ideas, pouring over professors’ resumes and soliciting more than a hundred. When the academics were interested, they would “kick the idea around back and forth by email” and then work through two or three drafts before reaching the current, download-able product.

“It is really important not to lose the listener,” Valerio said. “(Some professors) are very experienced talking to their peers but not necessarily talking to people unfamiliar with the subject matter.”

Yourprof’s talks are available individually for $4.99 to stream and $7.99 to download. Memberships offer full access to the site for streaming for $39.99 and $59.99 to download lectures. Memberships are 50 per cent off until Dec. 14. Yourprof can be found at yourprof.com