Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Giving voice to blog posts

posted by Andy Leff
First there was vox humana. Then came vox populi. Now we have vox post -- or voice posts -- unrolled last week on sites such as OhGizmo and Boing Boing.

But wait! you say. The concept sounds vaguely familiar. That's because voice posts aren't new. Odeo's Audioblogger service hit the scene a couple years ago and partnered with Google and Blogger, only to be laid to rest in November 2006.

Still, it was enough time to pique interest among forward-thinking bloggers. And now HP is resurrecting the technology as a marketing strategy.

You might also be thinking voice posts are podcasts by another name. Well, not quite. Voice posts consist mainly of voice recordings sent by mobile phone, and posted directly to blogs. Essentially, they are aural versions of traditional text posts, where authors speak their views instead of typing them.

Podcasts, on the other hand, are digital media files distributed via syndication feed, and available for download and playback. They often feature interviews and shows, which range in production value, length, and complexity.

Voice posts offer some unique benefits to experimental authors. Faithful blog audiences get to hear raw, unedited views expressed in their favorite bloggers' actual voices. This strengthens a personal connection to writer and content.

Plus, varying written and spoken formats add interest and texture to blog sites, and can attract a new subset of followers who prefer listening to reading.

Now the drawbacks. Some authors express themselves better through the keyboard than the recorder. And while blog posts aren't usually heavily edited, their publishing structure does let writers add some spit and polish before sending them into the great wide Web.

In contrast, off-the-cuff voice posts risk becoming rambling streams of consciousness, where the most cogent points are lost in the babble, rather than called out on the page.

That said, I think authors who apply basic blogging guidelines for readable text to voice posts will make the format work. These best practices include offering clear, concise information; calling out links; and providing interesting analysis for your audience.

If any of you already use voice posts on your business or personal blogs, let me know how it's working out. We welcome all dos, don'ts, and dohs you've discovered along the way.

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