Why is audio embedded in text a good idea?

April 14, 2016

Making the most recent Pick of the Podcasts was a deeply frustrating experience, but I'm not here to moan. At least, not about that. Maybe another time.

One lead appeared to be an extract from an article about pigments. It sounded promising enough to set me off in search of the whole thing, and after a lot of footling around, I eventually found the original audio on SoundCloud. Frustratingly, it was one of a playlist of clips, of "Sound files included in Harvard Gazette stories". But no link from each clip to its story. I'm OK at internet search, so I did eventually run the story down (A wall of color, a window to the past, well worth a read), and it was just as the playlist had promised. There were clips, tucked between paragraphs. No podcast. Just clips.

Why? To prove that the person who wrote the story actually spoke to the source? To give butterfly minds something to alight on? I'm at a loss.

Judging from the playlist, this is something the Harvard Gazette does fairly often. Maybe other places do it too. And then, while I was still puzzling out the purpose, along comes SoundCite, "a simple-to-use tool that lets you add inline audio to your story. The audio is not isolated; it plays right under the text you choose."

And again, why? Some of the friends I discussed it with think it is a good idea and one that will enhance reading online. I remain unconvinced. So go ahead. Convince me.

By Jeremy

Overcoming the Matthew Effect

March 29, 2016

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath.

The main reason I make Pick of the Podcasts is to help other people (and myself) to find something new to listen to. Most of the best-of lists and recommendations seem to me to feature the same old regulars we know and love. That's not to say that some of them aren't worth listening to. But there is so much more out there.

Obviously, in search of stuff to recommend, I subscribe to other people's recommendations, and very good some of them are. (I'm looking at you, Dana Gerber-Margie.) So when I saw that audiosear.ch had launched a one a day newsletter with a single episode selected from their vast audio archive to recommend, I was all for that.

Alas, it is comprehensively useless.

You can listen to the episode on audiosear.ch's lacklustre streaming, scrolling app, or you can find a link to the episode on iTunes. Terrific. The only upside to listening to the stream is that you get to hoot at the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time transcript.

There's no download link from the audio -- not even from the original site, which would be the right thing to do -- and no easy way to find the original in case, like me, you might want to listen to it some other way.

I think this is the first time I have unsubscribed from a newsletter less than 24 hours after signing up.

The Matthew Effect

By Jeremy

A bit about huffduffer

January 19, 2016

What have U-boats got to do with podcast discovery?
One obstacle to listening to new podcasts is that it isn't easy to get a single episode, especially on a phone. None of the podcatchers I know of will capture a single episode so you can see whether you like it. You either subscribe to the whole series, or you don't. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

Huffduffer makes it possible to subscribe to your personal podcast stream of single epsiodes.

HFDF -- high-frequency direction finding, _aka_ huff-duff -- helped to locate and sink many German U-boats during World War II. It also inspired one of the most useful websites for people who like to listen to audio: huffduffer.com. Why? Jeremy Keith, who built Huffduffer, put it this way:

It refers to a technique, widely employed during World War II, to triangulate the position of radio transmissions. I thought that was a suitable term to revive for the practice of finding interesting MP3 files on the web.

There's a great explanation of how it all works at Huffduffer. All I want to do here is recommend that you check it out. It is an ideal way to create a personalised podcast series of one-off episodes that you come across, so you don't have to subscribe to a show in its entirety. Plus, you can see what other people have huffduffed and add them to your own feed. If you want, you can follow me and if you do I may well decide to reciprocate.

Nothing is perfect, of course. I haven't yet found a way to huffduff an audio file that I've discovered on my iPhone. I'm sure there are Workflows that would do this, but I have not found them.

And if the audio is hosted somewhere that doesn't permit straightforward downloads, it won't work either (although there is a brilliant thing that will snarf the audio from many flavours of video). But then, if you can't download the audio, maybe it isn't a podcast?

If the episode page for your podcast doesn't have a clear link to a downloadable audio file? -- That ain't no podcast! [mic drop]

-- Merlin Mann @hotdogsladies December 23, 2014.

By Jeremy

Pick of the Podcasts: A Manifesto

January 1, 2016

Two things that people say about podcasting annoy me. They say "podcast discovery is broken," implying that there was a time when it worked. I do not believe that is true. They also say it would be great if podcasts could "go viral," as if that is self-evidently a good thing.

I am finally annoyed enough to stop talking and do something to address the first. The second will have to wait.

I am opening the doors to a new podcast that will be housed here at potp.it. The initials stand for Pick of the Podcasts, and that's what it will be. Each episode will contain self-contained clips from three podcasts with a little bit of linking material. The podcasts will generally be independent productions, rather than part of a podcast network or radio spin-offs, and each show will likely be 20-30 minutes long.

What do I hope to achieve?

Mostly, I want to amplify word-of-mouth recommendations and give a little context, while also making it easier to subscribe to the shows. Many current podcast recommendation efforts do neither.

It would also be wonderful if I could attract enough listeners to also attract advertisers or sponsors, both to cover costs and, if possible, cross-subsidise my own show, Eat This Podcast.

What do I need?

Suggestions! There is no way I can spend the time looking for and listening to interesting podcasts (one reason why the whole "viral" question is moot). So I need your word-of-mouth recommendations, and if you want to tell me why, that would be a great help too. But I will always listen to the episodes in the show.

What's in it for you?

As a listener, some interesting listening and, from time to time, the chance to discover a new podcast that you like enough to stick in your queue.

As a podcast producer, an inbound link and, I hope, new listeners. Plus a warm inner glow. Maybe, eventually, if the whole thing takes off in a big way, a token payment.

Now what?

I'm hoping to have the first episode up around Christmas, and to publish every two weeks thereafter, at least to begin with. After a couple of episodes I will submit the feed to iTunes. And then ... well, let's just see how it goes.

By Jeremy

About the Show

January 1, 2016

Pick of the Podcasts is just that: a selection chosen by an individual and offered as a way to find interesting shows.

It depends on you, the audience, to share the shows and episodes you enjoy. There's a suggestions form on every page.

As well as individual episodes, there will also be occasional written pieces here about podcasting in general and this show in particular.

Commenting is not currently enabled, although if there is a loud enough clamour I'll consider it. In the meantime, feel free to email me or use the suggestions form.

By Jeremy