Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Searching podcasts

What you'd really need on the quest for podcasts would be a search engine, such as the known search engines on the web, that can take your keyword and look for it inside audio and video. MIT is developing such an engine and calls it the Lecture Browser.
The Lecture Browser is a web interface to video recordings of lectures and seminars that have been indexed using automatic speech recognition technology. You can search for topics, much like a regular web search engine.

Follow the link to the Lecture Browser and you can experience this search adapted onto the lectures of MIT. I suppose from here it will not take too long and in your search engine, in addition to text search and image search, you will have audio search.

As a side note on image search: for now, the search is with keywords in the text that accompany the pictures, but technology is also being developed to recognize text inside the picture (either captions or captured text) and include that in the search.

Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis

Stanford's Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis is not my first enhanced podcast. In the summer of 2006 I followed a World Cup podcast by The Guardian, which was enhanced, but this hardly made a lasting impression on me. It did make clear, though, what enhancement in a podcast entails. The podcast is chopped up in subsections. In your iPod you can navigate from section to section with the next and previous click. And each section carries a different picture, displayed on the screen. With the football show, this was a mere illustration, but in GWC, these are the maps that go along with the lecture.

As a consequence, the screen on my iPod nano is way too small to be of much help, but the sound level is too low for iPod anyway. Enhanced podcasts are not mp3 files and as a consequence, I could not enhance the sound with MP3Gain, on acount of an unsupported format. In front of my PC, the podcast can be enjoyed, for better sound and for larger visuals. The result is enchanting.

GWC engages into a search for the boundaries in the world. Pondering language, religion and political divides and concluding, in advance, these categorizations hardly run along each other and promising for some splendid in depth lectures. And wonderful maps. Not just for map addicts such as myself, but for everybody a great podcast right from the start.