Where’s the Text?

Who cares about text when you can have pictures and sound? We do… That’s who.

In listening to Steve Jobs introduction of Apple’s latest Mac mini with it’s Front Row capabilities,
I heard Steve mention audio, video, and photos. This makes sense, because in this new “digital lifestyle” we are facing a multimedia world, and who cares about text when you can have pictures and sound?

We do… That’s who.

I suppose most people sit in front of the television and don’t want to read. If you put it that way, I’d agree. But what I want – at a minimum – is the metadata. The “info” if you will, as it’s labeled on my Moxi’s remote.

When I first got involved in what was later to be called “podcasting” I think I made a mistake in attempting to force people to subscribe and download without providing a web presence for each bundle of passion. My thoughts at the time were along the lines of “this is how it can work, try it” but I may have fallen short on my thinking.

In contrast, the videobloggers have endless debates about what a defines a videoblog, with most saying it’s video on a blog, with an RSS (with enclosures) feed you can subscribe to, and the normal features of a blog, comments, permalinks, textual descriptions, etc. Right on. (I’ll assume right now that people who do “video podcasting” think somewhat similar thoughts.)

In iTunes most of the metadata, the stuff surrounding a podcast or videoblog post are lost. How do you easily see the tags people used? Get to the permalink? Comment on it? Support the creator with a donation? Luckily, many of these problems are being solved by the new breed of media aggregators like FireAnt and Democracy.

These new aggregators do not just toss the text and present you with audio or video, they make sure that the text (the metadata) is included and presented to you to act upon. Obviously when using Front Row on your TV, following hyperlinks might not be ideal, but seeing the metadata would be, just like I do with the Moxi when I press that “info” button.

Dammit! Let’s not lose that text!