How Podcasts Will Get Cooler

While some podcasts might be useful for some clinicians in some circumstances, I think that text is, and will likely always be, king.

Text is searchable. It can be browsed or skimmed quickly. Most clinicians (and most people) can read more words per minute than comfortably listen to in the same time. Clinicians making use of medical libraries are usually looking for some very specific information.

That being said, here’s how I think Podcasts will get cooler, and better for medical purposes:.

Eventually, the metadata of an audio file (any audio file) should contain not just a text transcript of the audio content, but searchable transcript, indexed to minutes and seconds of the audio. Lets say you want to download the latest Library 2.0 Gang podcast specifcally because you want to hear the first thing Michael Stephens has to say on the topic du jour. You should be able to search the Podcast for the word “Stephens”, select the first first hit in the returned search results, and be taken instantly to the first moment in the audio when the word “Stephens” is spoken.

Imagine the usefulness of such a feature for a clinician attempting to find specific details in a podcast he/she has downloaded.

Audio content producers will need to bundle transcripts/lyrics into the metadata of the audiofile, and playback devices need to be able to search them. I doubt this functionality is far away.

Michelle Kraft (who is in my mind a guru of medical podcasts- see links at the bottom of this post) has repeatedly and rightly raised the issue of the need for a catalogue or searchable index of medical podcasts.

Thanks to T. Scott Plutchak’s comment at the Krafty Librarian, we know that the cataloging of medical pocasts is on the radar of the NLM. Imagine how helpful the ability to search the text of podcast transcriptions would be to those good folks at the NLM who will eventually be responsible for cataloging podcasts.

Then there’s the cool factor- Imagine that you KNOW one of the songs on your iPod has the lyrics, “I listen to the Clash”- but you don’t remember which band or song. How cool would it be if you could search the contents of your iPod by lyrics, and jump instantly to playing the right verse of the right song, Hitchhiker’s Guide, by Speechwriters, LLC. ([Lyrics], [mp3])

More reading on medical podcasting
Michelle Kraft’s poster at MLA ’06
Posts on podcasting at The Krafty Librarian
Michelle Kraft’s list of medical podcasts
Dean Giustini and Jeremiah Saunders on Podcasting

5 thoughts on “How Podcasts Will Get Cooler

  1. Podzinger (http://www.podzinger.com/) attempts to do something very close to what you’re talking about, but they use some sort of voice recognition sotware to analyze podcasts. They don’t really seem to create any transferable metadata that could be used by other applications. I haven’t been terribly impressed with some of the transcripts they’ve produced. Doing searches for “Lexmark,” for example, mostly just gives me false hits. It does seem to do somewhat better with normal, everyday, dictionary-type words.

    Also, it’s a little unclear exactly which podacts they are analyzing. If nothing else, though, it’s at least fun to play around with

  2. Great post that is somewhat relevant to an independent study I’m planning for the fall semester (Content Analysis of Science Podcasts: An Evaluation Guide for Librarians). I’ve given some thought to transcripts accompanying podcasts but for fact checking purposes. For example, let’s say a student cites a podcast in her final paper. If for whatever reason her professor wants to check on that citation how will the professor do it? Listen to an entire podcast?

  3. Hi Joy-

    There are a number of podcast transcription services now (try googling for: “podcast transcription” service). I think the biggest incentive for podcasters to use transcription services is so that their content can be indexed and searched by search engines- and I think podcast transcription will probably grow in popularity for a bit. But no service currently indexes the text transcritpion to mm:ss of the audio. I’m betting that they’re coming, though. The trick is which will come first: players that can handle this sort of metadata, or services that create it.

  4. In response to your message… (i.e. profs. requiring a time stamp for information cited from a podcast):

    Are researchers (student or professional) citing from podcasts?

    Is anyone aware of any statistics or citation analysis studies?

  5. Pingback: davidrothman.net » EveryZing: Search the Transcript of a (Medical/LIS) Podcast/Video