Shortcut and Short Falls

How am I only now learning of the existence of the Shortcut app? Probably because I rarely listen to This American Life’s (TAL) show on their website. Nevertheless, I have recently heard their latest development, and boy is it exciting!

So what is Shortcut?

To quote TAL – the creators:

“Shortcut is a web app that lets you quickly and easily turn your favorite podcast moments into personalized, animated, and transcribed videos that can be shared to social media with just one click.”

It was originally only available on their website. Now it is open source and available for all. In typical TAL style it is not being beautifully packaged or sold to us, just yet (it is only at Beta stage), however, like everything they do, it is bound to break boundaries and open up avenues that haven’t been previously pummelled. 

Sounds great? Well, yes it is. What Stephanie Foo & co. have realised is that podcasters and producers are losing out through not being able to share their content as easily as video and print can. Despite the surge of interest in podcasts and their potential listening power, they’re not on the easy hit list for the uninitiated. As saying watching a video on YouTube is for a novice.

So what does this do?

Well, firstly it will make it easier for you to share your content online – on your website, your social media – wherevs! Which is great. Someone shares a snippet of their show, and millions of your followers can share it over and over again. It will help drive traffic to your website, your app, your podcast. 

Win! Win!

Nevertheless, it has highlighted something.

As I have written about previously, listening to a podcast depends on your choice of maker. Are you an Apple-ite? Or an Android head? Or maybe you’re a Windows worshipper? This lack of central space dilutes one of the main the powers of a podcast. Accessibility. Yes, Stitcher and Podbean have transcended the technological disparities between these makers, but for many listeners podcast playing is still a two fold process. You search and find through iTunes (it is by far the go to search engine), but then you listen through your specific app. Not every app has all podcasts, hence why people still revert to iTunes.

And what about the archives? All that ground breaking audio that no longer sees the light of day? I get many an email desperately searching for links to certain memorable pieces from years gone by.

So, are we missing a trick?

Unlike video, where YouTube monopolises the market, audio does not have that one queen among princesses. That one stop shop for old and new. A place to search for the memorable moments from a piece of audio. There is a whole world of captivating audio that has been hidden through decades of new technology and a growing love of video. As podcasting continues to extend beyond the audio enthusiasts and sound fanatics, now is the chance to delve into those archives and create a much richer, engaged audience. To continue to evolve and show that audio will never die. Has never died!

So, in theory, Shortcut is the tool to share that audio.

Now we just need a place to put it.

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