Ready? It’s time for you to take notes. Today we’re going to put in place a system that will allow podcasters to create and enable conversations with their listeners, without the awful system of audio comments, as it currently exists.
(Addendum: Since it came up, allow me to say, before anything, that this concept comes from Michael, not from me. I mentioned this before, but I hadn’t specifically mentioned in this post, so I’m correcting that by doing so now. Capiche? Him, not me. I’m just following up.)
First, what’s the problem with the current system of audio comments? Well, it puts the burden on the podcaster. I’ve been a podcaster for over a year, and listening to audio comments is cool and encouraging, but sometimes you have a lot sitting in your inbox. So we need to get them out of the inbox and into where they belong: the aggregator.
Also, it makes the podcaster a gatekeeper of sorts – he controls what gets onto his show, so he is directing the flow of discussion. I wouldn’t say this is terrible – good podcasters are followed because they are great at pointing their audience to interesting subjects – but again the burden is on the producer for choosing good comments and keeping a certain format. Sometimes, the podcaster doesn’t want to go in a direction, but the listeners do. Let’s enable that.
What about forums? I agree that forums have a place for discussion of podcasts (so do comments), but podcasts are audio, and they encourage audio as a response system (or at least they should). Let’s try to keep them in audio formats.
Have you got iTunes? Great. Try subscribing to this RSS feed (dragging usually works) and you’ll get not only every In Over Your Head show (your favourite, I know), but also any audio comment someone posts to me. Mark and I have tried this (you’ll see his comments in there as well), so we know it works. We did this using a system of tagging through del.icio.us (using the tag ‘inoveryourhead’ along with a combination of others) to ensure you can get exactly the kind of audio you want brought to your listening device. We also did it in case you only want to receive my DJ sets, or only my talk shows.
Why should you care about this? Simple: You don’t know it yet, but this system revokes my ability as gatekeeper. Now my podcast can begin conversations, and just let them go from here on in. Do you want two seperate feeds for the show and for comments? Ok, drag both of these to your aggregator and you get them: Show + Comments
If you want to participate in the conversation, here’s how:
- Create an audio comment (Odeo is good for this).
- Get its URL.
- Tag it appropriately using your del.icio.us account. (In my case, just use the tags inoveryourhead and comment.)
Now, you get to send audio comments not only to me (since I’m subscribed), but also to anyone else who cares to listen to the comments coming from my listeners (or detractors, whatever). Sound interesting yet?
Also: If you’ve ever listened to Daily Source Code, you know that Adam receives a ridiculous amount of comments. Too many to play, too many to sift through – he doesn’t even have a real system for keeping them organized in his Gmail inbox, if I recall correctly. So let’s fix that too: Adam, stop receiving comments in your Gmail inbox – in fact, stop receiving emails about them at all. Instead, subscribe to a custom RSS feed that is fed to you (or anyone) via del.icio.us, through a use of tags unique to your show. As an example: DSC+comment (there’s nothing there right now, so it’s perfect). Thereafter, you receive them in your aggregator of choice! Even better, you (the listener) can subscribe to the comment feed yourself, and receive all of Adam’s comments, if you want. So get to it! (I know there are some of you out there that want this, don’t lie.)
Anyway, I’m still developing these ideas – you’ll note this post is terribly written due to lack of sleep – but the concepts are sound and will be amazingly helpful to the podcasting world at large. Time to start embracing them – but now, how to make it catch on?