‘This American Life’ Tool for Podcast Sharing Has Gone Live

Tekserve's antique radio collection.

Tekserve’s antique radio collection. Courtesy of Roland Auctions

We have been reporting on the problem of podcast sharing for a while, but the conversation really started over at Digg, with its original story on why audio seldom goes viral.

First, we wrote about the need to marry audio with text, to improve searchability. Since then, we were disappointed by Clammr, intrigued by Smab’s auto transcripts and reported on how Pop Up Archive explored the problem at This American Life‘s audio hackathon.

Then, in February, news came out that Team Ira Glass had secured funding from the Knight Foundation to further develop their ideas around a sharing tool, one that would let listeners easily pick and share excerpts they love from audio shows. We spotted a clip made with a new tool, now called “Shortcut,” on Twitter today, and found a story about it at Smithsonian Magazine, which confirms that this is the app we’ve been waiting for. The magazine reports that the team ultimately turned to Feel Train to help build the final product.

Long story short: Shortcut does everything we’ve been saying a clipping tool needs to do. Most importantly, it lets a listener select audio by selecting text. Then it generates a really attractive embeddable video. A viewer can hit play and listen, or they can just watch the words play out as animation. It’s nice.

This reporter recently listened to the show’s story “Becoming A Badger,” about a guy who spent time pretending to actually be a badger in the forest, living by his nose alone. It’s extraordinary. Here’s a piece from the intro that we clipped and posted to Twitter using the new tool:

Stephanie Foo, the project lead from the show, told Smithsonian that the show plans to release the code as an open source project, so that other podcasts can use it and other developers can build on it. The project cites 12 other existing open source projects it drew from to build this new one.

For now, podcasts interested in using the tool should contact the show through Shortcut’s “about” page.

‘This American Life’ Tool for Podcast Sharing Has Gone Live