Opening up the conversation

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 (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:

  1. Create an audio comment (Odeo is good for this).
  2. Get its URL.
  3. Tag it appropriately using your 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, 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?

Read the follow-up post to this idea.






11 responses to “Opening up the conversation”

  1. ba Avatar

    on a totally unrelated topic.
    i had to share this with you. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Chris Avatar

    Interesting points mate. I’m going to have a look into this.

    (I’m also looking into a decent net chess programm for our game) – do you know of one?

    All the best mate.

  3. Alex Avatar

    Now that’s a tight idea… good to see intersections are back at, hopefully Amazon will get their shit together… then we could write some buzz-word heavy web 2.0 masterpiece that mixes all these feeds together into some… thing… I don’t know what, but I do know it would be… a thing…


  4. Podcasts as Talk Radio

    (Tags: Podcasts | Talk Radio | Conversations | OPML | RSS | Attention) I only have a few minutes, but I wanted make sure that I cleared up one point from my Podcasts as Conversations post yesterday. I have received

  5. mhp Avatar

    It is great that finally got things fixed. It will be a great testbed for gauging the responsivness of listeners to engage in the conversation. I see the long-run problems we discussed occuring, especially if Curry starts to get his listeners doing this, it will happen sooner than later. (not to mention the hitting bandwidth caps with the massive amounts of downloads)

    Like you said, the only difference between most podcaters and their listeners are that the latter don’t bother recording what comes out of their mouths. Now that there are easy ways to record, upload, and (now) tag your audio comments there is no excuse. Think of posting audio comments as a first step towards becoming a podcaster. There is much less time/effort overhead involved in commenting than there is producing your own show (time – currently the single barrier preventing me from putting out a show)… so get on it people! Who knows where this will go? or where it might lead you!?

  6. groundctrl Avatar

    I’m 100% with you.

    Todd Sampson (who I linked to on this post) is envisioning a transformation of podcasting into a series of comments (2-3 min ones) that evolve into podcast ‘clouds’ of their own. We’ll see how it goes.

  7. mtl3p Avatar

    hmm. methinks I told you this idea, no? or at the very least we came up with it together?

    that’s twice now in the last two weeks I’m getting burned on conversations that I’ve had with friends giving them ideas. it sucks. not saying that I deserve any credit for the actual work of implementing it or anything.

    maybe i’m just being grouchy ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. mtl3p Avatar

    hehe. ๐Ÿ™‚

    thanks for placating me, julien. you didn’t have to put it at the beginning of the post though.

  9. groundctrl Avatar

    S’okay, I should have done it in the first place.

  10. Krash Coarse Avatar

    Man this is an awesome idea! I had already tried to start encouraging audio comments (unsuccessfully) by having 3 channels: direct via email, phone-line, and uploading audio file to my blog page for all to hear.
    In fact, I have NEVER gotten one on the blog.

    No matter how I publicize it, I don’t get comments.

    I have the option of 2 separate feeds with the CMS I’m using as a backend: 1 for the shows only, #2 for the shows + comments. That way you get the comments specific for the show at the same time.

  11. […] For those that missed the first round, I will try to summarize what we’re trying to do: […]

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