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March 05, 2005

My Idea for Podsearching

One of the reasons I can't see podcasting catching on is because you can't search them.

I'm sure people are working on transcribing the audio and doing searches on that, but I had an idea that may work better than that.

If you listen to the radio, you may notice that different types of radio stations tend to have announcers with similar voices. For example on "The End" (107.7) in Seattle, all the DJs have that slacker tone of voice. If I asked you to imitate the stereotypical DJ from a country station, or a college station, or an alternative station, or a conservative talk radio station, or an easy listening station...you could probably do a pretty good job.

So when you are in a strange city, hunting the dial for a station you like, a good indicator is whether the announcer sounds like the announcer on the station you like at home.

So my idea is about how to find new podcasts you might like, given that you have a certain set you subscribe to already. My theory is that you can analyze the voice on a podcast, without interpreting what the words mean, and come up with a set of numeric values that represent the talk/music ratio, the intonation of the speakers, the speed at which people talk -- things like that. We'll call this the "Barr rating" of a podcast. If every podcast site posts its Barr ratings also, you can quickly scan all podcasts out there, and give a listen to the ones whose Barr rating are close to the Barr ratings of podcasts you already subsribe to.

What I like about this is that you don't need to do the speech-to-text conversion; I'm sure reasonably appropriate audio algorithms exist already. It won't let you search the podcast for specific "search terms" in the sense that search engines use them, but in fact you don't want to have something that reactively searches for podcasts; you want something that proactively finds podcasts you might like. And this idea actually leverages what is different about podcasts vs. blogs -- the fact that podcasts do have audio, and all the extra information that can be conveyed that way.

Posted by AdamBa at March 5, 2005 10:21 PM

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