I will try very hard not to let any of that late-'90s Internet gush creep into this item. But Web developers do still come up with technical achievements that make you simply stop and say, Damn! That's cool!
(Google Earth is one recent example, although I can't think of any way to connect it to podcasting.)
Today's cool thing is Podscope. Simply put, it's Google for audio. You type in a search term (I tried "slate"), and it searches the actual audio of thousands of podcasts, returning a list of results in which it thinks it heard those words. Then it offers to play for you the relevant sound snippets.
And the results are pretty darn good. I found numerous mentions of Slate articles in various podcasts. Of course, using a computer to try to decipher human speech also leads to a fair number of false positives. In one clip from "The Dawn and Drew Show," Podscope mistook the phrase "this lady" for the word "slate." Still …
The company that developed Podscope, TVEyes, released the free search engine in April, after creating the technology to monitor live TV and radio broadcasts. Company spokesman Ken Lempit says what's actually going on behind the scenes of your search is that voice-recognition software has already converted the audio to text. You're really searching a text file for keywords, but the results then link you back to the original audio recording. Lempit says the technology has been used among other things to help certain government agencies keep tabs on Arabic language broadcasts. But my favorite use: Politicians can (and do) monitor their opponents' recorded utterances.
And in case you haven't been able to monitor all of Slate's recent podcasts, below is a list of the past week's crop (or click here for our complete podcast archive):
Sept. 23: Tom Joyner, Voice of the Hurricane (Slate piece)
Sept. 22: Anal Sex: Media Taboo? (Slate piece)
Sept. 21: Why I Killed My Cat (Slate piece)
Sept. 20: Orwell's PR Firm (Slate piece)
Sept. 19: Golf vs. Tennis (Slate piece)
Comments? Questions? Ideas? Send them to Podcasts@slate.com. (E-mail you send may be quoted unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)