Most of us have heard the philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Today we might ask, “If a podcast exists online and no text is around to optimize it, does it get shared?” Because audio resources lack text, audio content, like podcasts, are invisible to traditional searches–creating a virtual a black hole for knowledge-building and content amplification.
There’s no sweeter story to share than when technology is harnessed to solve a technological challenge, and that’s what cofounders Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith of Pop Up Archive, and now Audiosear.ch have been up to – they’ve shined a light on the blackhole of audio search, and plowed a chaotic field of audio content into neat, user-friendly rows to enhance discovery, accessibility and shareability.
Pop Up Archive transcribes and tags audio material to make it more discoverable on the web, and Audiosear.ch (beta version) gives developers the tools to make thousands of podcasts and radio shows searchable by show, episode, category, network, tags, related audio, relevancy, or recency.
In addition to their target audience of media companies, news organizations and archivists, the work of Pop Up and Audiosear.ch has potential to be particularly helpful to professionals in the applied communication sectors–public relations, advertising and marketing–especially those working in small and mid-size agencies who struggle to keep pace with technological innovations, gain competitive intelligence, and position and amplify original content to appropriate communities.
These improved audio search capabilities help communication professionals in three ways:
1) Knowledge-building – Constant training is expensive, and experimentation can be risky in terms of both time and results. Being able to more efficiently locate audio materials that help personnel stay abreast of new technologies benefit organizations by creating and supplementing robust training materials for a minimal investment of resources.
2) Competitive Intelligence - Audio search tools can help organizations more efficiently discover audio content related to clients, their competitors, and unearth historic audio resources to enhance research, relevancy and storytelling capabilities.
3) Content Amplification – Audio archive and search tools can position content to be more readily discovered.
According to the company's May 28 release on the new project, Audiosear.ch generates data about trending topics, and provides a simple way for audio platforms to enable users to search within and share specific moments from podcasts. As with most new tools, there is room to improve the specificity of the search function (much as Getty Images evolved to know that a user’s search for “break” varies depending on the context. Does the user want an image of someone “taking a break” or of something that is broken?) Currently the Audiosear.ch database contains content from the top 250 podcasts and radio programs on iTunes and SoundCloud. The Audiosear.ch API and developer docs are free for noncommercial use.
Communication professionals who have clients creating audio content, or who create their own audio content for business development, should consider how these tools can enhance their own organization, and improve the services they offer clients.