Learning Search

Taking Audioburst For a Test Drive

When it comes to Calishain’s List of Search Frustrations, podcast searching is definitely #1. And possibly #2, #3, and #4. I just have not found a podcast discovery tool that has all the features and delinations I want to keep my ears happy.

Audioburst is not going to fulfill all my podcast-search dreams. Not by a long shot. But it has a “burst” search that I could come to love — and it does have a keyword-based search for podcasts, though my love for that is minimal. Let me show you around.

I mentioned Audioburst in ResearchBuzz last October. Its about page describes the company this way: “Every day, our technology listens to, understands, segments and indexes millions of minutes of audio information from top radio stations and podcasts.” So AI and machine transcription?

Don’t start with the Audioburst front page. Go straight to https://search.audioburst.com/ , which is where you’ll find the fun stuff.

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There are two ways you can search here: Shows (where you’re searching for the names of shows and podcasts) or Bursts (where you’re searching for text and topics within podcasts.) Let’s look at Bursts first. I did a search for archive:

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Audioburst immediately pulls up not only clips but a playlist. The first result showed the name of the podcast, what I think is some context for the clip, and then a player for the clip. (Note that when the search results come up the first audio clip starts playing immediately, which can be startling.) The player has the forward/back and pause/play controls that’ll be familiar to you if you’ve used podcast apps before. The descriptive text also has a link to a page of information about the podcast to which you’re listening. (Not the single show specifically, but the podcast in general.)

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In the case of this search, Audioburst started playing the first clip from the results literally in the middle of a sentence. If you are perplexed by what you’re hearing, use the Keep Listening button under the search result, which loads the entire program from which the clip is taken. A player progress bar allows to rewind or just start the episode from the beginning.

But let’s say you understand the clip without additional context. Audioburst will play through the clip and proceed to the next one. Just by doing one search you’ve queued up a playlist. I like that.

General words like archive are not your best choice, though. Better to find keywords from current events, famous people, or — not my cup of tea but it worked really well — professional athletes.

You’ll have to be careful with your search terms, though. For example, searching for LeBron James found just one result. Searching for just LeBron found five results, all relevant. Searching for wildfires found three results, while searching for California fires found five.

Sometimes if you’re searching for a current events item you’ll get clips from news radio that are the same story rehashed at a different time of day. Perhaps offer a way to limit search results to one per source?

If you like what the Bursts search finds you, you can sign up (looks like the only way you can is by connecting your Google Account) and specify a bunch of keywords and topics you like.

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Audioburst will put together a set of clips to play for you. In the case of the topics I chose I got a half-dozen clips ranging from 20 seconds to about four minutes. It would be good if I could specify hey, I want fifteen minutes’ worth of clips for a walk. If you don’t like the set of clips that you’re given, you can refresh the page for another set. When I tried that, I got seven clips ranging from under a minute to over 26 minutes.

The ability to do word- and topic- level searches for podcast clips are the big draw here, but Audioburst offers more proasic podcast-related searches as well.  They’re a bit disappointing, though; doing a Shows search for learn found two results. Doing the same search on Listen Notes found over 1600 results, even when filtering just for the keyword in the title.

I like what Audioburst has started here, even though I have to tweak the keywords to get substantive results. I’d like to see a lot more content (With all the controversy of the last few days, how is it that a search for Pelosi only gets one result?  Paul Ryan search got same.) I’d like to see filters for clip length and source as well as the ability to sort by date in addition to what I think is relevance. With those kinds of additions, I can easily see this as a go-to tool when searching for background on current events or even, if they’re famous enough, individuals.

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