Tom Coates offers this very interesting sneak peek at a new BBC feature called Annotable Audio. And damn, this has some serious possibilities. Essentially, users will be able to take an audio file and annotate specific sections of it for other users. If there’s any downfall to the idea, it’s that the brain (or, at least, mine anyway) may not be able to process text information and audio information at the same time. But as a reference tool, I can see this as an invaluable interface for something like a podcast. Let’s say, for example, that an interview subject mentions an arcane topic and the listener might be scratching his head, wondering what he’s on about. Well, the informative text is there, perhaps with a few links to other audio segments or alternative presentations.
The BBC has been very ahead of the curve in exploring new technologies. No accident that they were the ones to take on Douglas Adams’ notion of a Web-based Hitchhiker’s Guide. But with all this talk of Web 2.0, this Annotable Audio tool is the kind of thing that represents a transition point between the web language of today (hyperlinks) and its integration with other mediums (sound). And hopefully we’ll see other organizations and companies working to extend vernacular along these lines.