Monday, March 14, 2011

Idea: Recording top web content (plain text) into podcasts

Thinking out loud:

What if you took popular news articles and blog posts and "automatically" converted them into podcasts (using real human beings)?

For example, see this article (popular on TechCrunch and on LinkedIn Today):

Original blog post:
The City By The Meh: Thoughts On Falling Out Of Love With The Valley

Podcast I recorded - click the play button:

Check this out on Chirbit

Create a content factory (using some simple workflow software) whereby a handful of dictators (with great speaking ability) get fed the text content - their job is to speak the text out loud.  Their speech gets recorded and is instantly made available for download to iPods, web browsers, and whatever other devices.  Maybe even other distribution channels like XM satellite radio and Pandora (folks who might want to passively hear the news in the car, at home, at work, etc.)

To start, the task of recording, say, a few hundred podcasts per day would be trivial.  Considering that there would be no "transformation" (that is, the dictator just reads the content aloud; doesn't summarize or anything), each podcast would only take a few minutes to record.

I wonder how this could be monetized and also how the original writers could be compensated?

Works for any country in any language.


Adam said...

Very interesting idea, Yarone. Monetization could take the form of advertising similar to radio ads, or device-based (think mobile banners). You could also do a subscription model (ad-free), but I suspect most people will tolerate ads.

Alon said...

I also see this as a simple wordpress plugin for bloggers to self serve. Sign up > Record a voice version of your own blog post > publish. That particular blog post gets automatically added to your blogs own podcast feed, is made available on Yarone's super news podcast site and then it also has the chance of getting dropped into one of Yarone's super news podcast site's daily/weekly podcasts that combine many related articles.

Random thought. Allow these self serve bloggers to create their own channels/podcasts. Choose other blogs they enjoy and let the system automatically create a podcast/mashup of all of their articles. For example, I would love to create a weekly digest of Southern California tech blogs and listen every Monday morning on my drive to work.

jm said...

I read techcrunch every day, but I only thoroughly read a few articles -- the rest I just skim though. I don't think audio is well suited to skimming like text, so the challenge might be determining the right content to present to the user, so he or she doesn't need to skip around.

Beyond that I think it's harder to keep a listener's attention than it is a reader's attention. Especially today, you're competing with the user's cell phone, e-mail, etc. I've listened to a few books from audible, and in each case I found it tough to stay focused, even though they have good readers. It certainly is possible to capture attention well -- the folks at do it with every show -- but I can only imagine how much effort it takes to put together an hour of content with special effects and creative editing like radiolab does.