The Cambridge Geek

Trying to Improve Audio Fiction Discoverability

With the creation of Luminary, and the rather poor approach it has to finding different audio dramas, I've been thinking about how we go about specifying them. Currently, most tagging is done to the iTunes categories, but these are very limited for audio fiction.

There are a few different directories that use tags, such as Audio-Drama, Independent Audio Drama and Podchaser, but this requires an external system to look things up. I'm wondering whether it's possible to improve the existing process in a grassroots manner, by altering the RSS/XML feed to something that podcatchers could use.

Luckily, it seems the RSS/XML format has the capability for this, with the use of namespaces. Essentially you can define your own tags within the RSS format, with more or less anything you want in them. To that end, it seems quite a neat idea to come up with a new standard that could be used for finding new fiction podcasts.

Since no one else has done that yet (as far I can tell), and I'm a maniacal egoist, I thought I'd have a bit of a crack at it. Obviously, I recommend shouting at me in the comments to tell me where I'm horribly wrong.

Based on what people want to listen to, it seems like there's a need to separate the different types of storytelling, the format of the podcast, and the genre. That would equate to three different tags (the presence of which would indicate that a podcast was fiction):

- which would be for how the stories are laid out. (Yes, I stole this from <itunes:type>.) I think options would include (with examples):
Anthology - for a series of short stories (Escape Pod).
Serial - a long story broken down into parts (Decoder Ring Theatre).
Standalone - told all in one go (Big Finish).

- for the style of the delivery:
Actual play - for roleplaying games and the variations on them (How We Roll).
Book - long form storytelling, which is read, not performed, but can be read with a cast and sound effects (Earthcore).
Dramatised - the fourth wall is entirely in place, with actors playing scripted parts and the characters having no idea they're being recorded (The Monster Hunters).
Dramatic narration - a single narrator (possibly per episode) tells the story, in the style of the great oral tradition, that is, not reading out a book (Scenic Byways).
Fictional show - where the podcast is pretending to be a show in a different world (King Falls AM).
Found footage - someone is assembling audio recordings into a podcast (The White Vault).
Musical - lots of singing (36 Questions).
Personal recording - the podcast is ostensibly someone's audio journal into some event (The Magnus Archives).
Short story - short form storytelling, which is read not performed, but takes less time than a book (LeVar Burton Reads).
Sitcom - it's funny (Wooden Overcoats).

- exactly what you're expecting. A few options would include:
Science fiction
And a shedload of other possibilities. Wikipedia can probably help out there. It seems sensible to come up with some sort of agreed list, which I'll happily update in response to comments.

So for each of these, you'd have to include the various tags in the RSS <Channel> section, eg in the form:
Science Fiction
For something like We Fix Space Junk.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on this. Any ideas?

Tagged: Feature Opinion Audio fiction