Audio Blogs are great because you can just talk, and it's freakin' communicated. That's it. No simpler user interface. (See also: Linguistic User Interface.)

Open-close jaw, message delivered. Simple as that.

But they suck because we can't scan through them. I mean, part of the joy of blogs is not reading them. You just skip over the boring parts, and skip straight to the good stuff.

I mean, I LOVE to see a blog I like, and just yank my eyes down to the good part. It's like when you pick up that romance novel, and you just scan through the book for the good part. Hot Damn, there it is- they're making out like bunnies on page 93. No need to read all the rest of the stuff.

Same thing with blogs. "I had a cheese sandwich." Blah blah blah. "My son just turned 4." Blah blah blah. "I just invented a working time machine; download this little Python program, run it, and a webservice will open a cosmic portal to your bedroom, and a babalicious cutie will introduce you to the finer points of it's user interface."


Now, would you have found that little gem, if you had to listen to an audio recording of some guy going on and on about how little Johnny is doing, what he had for lunch, and on and on and on?

No way!

By the time he's talking about the brand of milk he drank, you're gooone. You've read 5 whole web pages by the time it takes him to speak out the words: "My wife came home, and brought some parts I needed for a pet project, that I'll tell you about in a moment."

So, what's that leave us with? Are we stuck out here, reading only those things that people have had the time to hash out in text?

I don't think so. Some people we really really really want to hear what they have to say, but they don't say much, very often, because it just takes SO freakin' long to type.

You'd think the devil'd set us up this way. Here's how it goes:

Everyone knows that it's better to listen than to talk. So goes the conventional wisdom, right? Age old bandwidth management by peer pressure. Generally spoken by someone who's talking, I might add.

But we're set up to talk. And we're set up to read. But we're not set up to write, and we're not set up to listen. Like, we can read really freakin' fast. And we can talk, really freakin' fast.

But it takes like- what- two centuries for us to write out even a simple sentance. And it takes even longer to listen to 5 people talk in sequence. I mean, if they just wrote it all out for us, we could have the whole hours discussion down and understood in a good 5-10 minutes, skimming over the stuff that doesn't matter, and figuring out the really good parts.

So, I have a really good idea on how to get around this problem:


Borrowed from OverHear, with courtesy. You know that OverHear was originally intended for a all-voice system, with captioned indexed voice-to-text, right? But anyways, carrying on.

You take your days audio blogs, and you play them, all at once.

You play them all at once. Looping, even. And then you turn the volume uup, and dooown.

It's like: You're in a crowded party. And there's all this chatter going on. Chatter over here, chatter over there, chatter going on everywhere.

And then you hear it- a word, or- a phrase.

Somehow, our unconscious mind is able to lock coordinates on things that matter. It's not so much something that we do, but- it's like we've got these little autonomous robot agents in our brains, just figuring out what's important, and making news reports for us.

And they go: "HEY! HEY!" "Listen, Man!" "There's something I think you'd like to know about, going on in sector D-3 of the party floor!"

And then- you don't even have to think a conscious thought-

Another department of your brain goes: "Aye aye, keptin. We be zooming in on D-3." And they talk to the ear people, and the next thing you know, you're listening to sector D-3 of the party floor, where Diane and Josh and Fred are all talking, and they've said magical words that have piked your ears: "(mumble mumble mumble SINGULARITY SKY mumble mumble mumble)"


But now, the phrases are being decoded. Thankfully, there's a lot of error correction built into human tongue, and that means redundancy.

Without moving a muscle, and within fractions of seconds, you're conscious mind is filling in with what they're saying. You're getting message signal that you can understand. It's not just syllables; They've been de-marshalled and are flying at you as full-on parsed and sometimes even interpreted objects. (For the non-programmers here, that means: "You can understand what they're saying. When they say things, you understand what the words mean, and sometimes, even how the words are connected to one another and how sentances and ideas connect together.")

What's my point.

I'm saying: Your brain can be a cool filtering mechanism. You can hear a whole lot of people talking, I think, and you can pick out the stuff that you care about.

I'm saying: I think we can get a heck of a lot more bandwidth out of audio, than we are using right now.

How to make this? Heck if I know. But I think these guys do. Something like UserRadio? could probably be adapted to do something like this.

Long term: At some point, we're going to be veeerry frustrated with material interfaces. We're going to want to just think a conscious thought, and have that pull a lever, or send a voice message, or whatever. I mean, even going beyond that, we probably going to have unconscious thoughts trigger various pieces, or whatever. Maybe some things can be handled at the pre-conscious level- you know, like how you immediately started getting fed the data stream from D-2, before you even consciously thought, "Oh, interesting phrases over there? Let's zoom in on that." I mean, it takes a long time to perform that decision making. I'm sure you can hack things together, so that if certain pre-conditions are met, you can just automate the wire commands.

Back to Today:

Technology really really really sucks right now. I mean, it's just super-primitive.

If we make this thing today, we'll have a bunch of problems: We'll have to manually adjust the volumes of all the equipment. Manually. As in, by hand. You sitting there, listening to messages, and adjusting the volume switches for each one. Manually. You khow: By hand. It'll suck.

And then the voice, it'll be all tinny and gross and distorted and stuff. Yyyyuck.

But, it'd be great to try it out. We're pioneering types. We live in this stuff.

Bonus ideas:

Automate leaving voice comments. You just- you were listening, and you overheard part of the article. "Wow! That's flippin' cool!" you think, and you replay the whole thing, start to finish. Paying attention to the parts you care about, or maybe read the text version of it. Whatever.

Then you hear the comments of other people. People've said various things.

And then it's your turn. And you give your two cents: "I totally agree. (one) Robots are great. (two)" And then you continue on your merry way.

Something like that. I don't know.

set speed as well as volume

One of the things that helps us skim-read so rapidly is big, bold headers, with small detailed text between them. No need to check the details when the header already bores us.

Maybe we could somehow skim-listen, letting ordinary speech blur into unintelligible chipmunk babble, but have some sort of signal tell us (or an automatic mechanism ?) to slow down for a moment as the talker summarizes "Let's move on to ___" or quotes something especially important.

(I seem to remember someone telling me there were tones on his books-on-tape that let him rapidly find Chapter 6 …)

Which reminds me – I vaguely remember reading something about testing special high-speed tape players that frequency-shift the sound so it doesn't sound like chipmunks. Supposedly volunteers who listened to pre-recorded lectures at double-speed did better on tests over the material than the control group of volunteers that listened to it at normal speed. (Please tell me if you stumble across anything similar).

If these audio blogs are pre-recorded like normal blogs, maybe it would be cool to set the "speed" as well as the volume on each one you throw into the mix. You'd speed up folks that talk real slow. Maybe you'd slow down people that use a lot of incomprehensible slang, packed into tight sound bites, in a high-speed New York accent.

I hear rumors that several people stack a set of TVs so they can watch 6 or so channels at the same time. If people can do that, surely they can handle multiple audio blogs.

This is cool Dave! A good friend of mine usually watches 4 televisions during football season. Besides that he is a real smart guy! ;-)

So the multiple-TV thing isn't just a rumor. Cool.

After recording movies and commercials, lots of stuff gets cut out. I hear rumors of mountains of short pieces of audio tape, saying things like "ummm", "aaaaannnnnnnd", "like totally", "errr", "uhhh".

Instead of saying the words "I totally agree", some people would add comments in the form of their two hands clapping.

See Wiki:VideoTapingDesign

Define external redirect: UserRadio

EditNearLinks: UserInterface