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Genre = Podcast & Doug Kaye

Blogarithms: Doug Kaye posted this opinion on Podcasting and the Genre tag. He’s wrong – but for the right reasons. From an altruistic or purist point of view he is correct, but we live in the real world. See my comments below.

Doug,

Regarding your comments about genre assignment as podcast – in an ideal world where all podcaster’s take the time to carefully complete their metadata in a consitent manner, I would agree with you. However, as anyone who is aggregating podcasts can attest, the id3 tags are all over the map from nonexistent to quite informative. My original suggestion as setting genre to podcast was to make it easy for people to set playlists of newly acquired material. Without some consistent tag it becomes difficult to organize podcasts from your audio books, music and actual speech recordings. While one can argue that podcast is not a genre in the dictionary sense of the word (I would agree with you there) that is not really the point. Genre in terms of mp3s and playlists is a subjective tag used to identify content. From my reading of the id3 v2.4 spec, genre is part of the TCON or content type frame. Of all the possible choices, that seems the most accessible for setting as a consistent identifier of podcasts.

As an example, would you suggest the genre of a show with interviews, music and commentary to be set as rock, speech, interview, audioblog or commentary? How would you find it among the 8000 other audio items on your hard disk a year from now? (Obviously, as a skilled producer of audio content I know that you have a sophisticated organizational system, but I am talking about the average user here my wife for example.) If it has a tag consistent to the transmission mechanism “podcast” the average user will be much closer to finding it quickly. Additionally, should the content be passed along to someone else, that person would be introduced to the world of podcasts by simply looking at the tags. One more way of growing the community couldn’t hurt.

Ultimately, I think we agree. Podcasting is a transmission mechanism. It is, I believe, revolutionary and important. However, the reality is that we are currently importing podcasts into organizational systems whose default assumption is that the content is music. As such, items like audio books get a genre assignment of audiobook rather than the countless possible “real” genres one could assign them. Not because one is trying to undermine the importance of autobiography vs. murder mystery, but because it makes it easier and more convenient for the end user. I don’t see how that is a “bad idea”.

P.S. I really enjoy your work with IT Conversations, I look forward to each edition. Though, in the spirit of full disclosure I must confess, iPodderX is set to change the genre to “podcast”when it imports that way it gets right onto my iPod.