Podcasts are over-hyped.  This is unfortunate because their utility may be overlooked.  Look at the rising popularity of what was once known as "books on tape" (I'm sure even those are growing) and audible.com's success.  There needs to be a closer look at "mobile speech audio" and less hype about podcasts.  Attribute it to the internet as a distribution platform, DAPs (digital audio players), and finally, RSS (though it's still not in the major apps, and therefore limited to geeks).  As commute times grow, the need for efficiency increases, and the emergence of the 'mobile office', mobile speech audio becomes important as an efficient method of consuming information.

We've been waiting for speech to become useful.  HCI speech research has been around for a couple decades now (most notably, in the MIT speech group).  Were the social needs never there?  Now it seems we are approaching the time when the research will begin to be useful.

In this vein, our recent project introduced the notion of what we are currently calling "audio citations" though that name doesn't really work.  The idea is to leverage an incredibly useful feature of text and use it for audio: the quote-and-comment.

Since email was in its infancy, we recognized the importance to be able to reply, include text, indent it, and reply to the whole thing or to individual sentences.  If I'm going to begin to listen to my magazine articles in addition to reading them, I'm going to need a fundamental tool like this to work with the content.  One wants to quote some portion, add a comment, and send it off.

Looking at the podcastosphere, this is one thing that keeps podcasting from building on one another. They are all self-contained & independent.  Looking at blogs, they comment on each other so frequently, it makes sense to experiment with a similar system for audio.

-neema