Why listen to audio on the Internet when you can read an article or watch a video? This is the problem in creating a viral audio clip:
In a provocative piece for Digg on viral sound, reporter Stan Alcorn asked Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian: “Why does the Internet so rarely mobilize around audio? What would it take to put audio on the Reddit front page?”
Since audio is, of course, our business, we asked Stan Alcorn to make us an audio version (listen above). We want our work to be sharable – and so we’ve decided to be proactive…
As Stan reports, there are certainly exceptions to the rule. For instance, the audio I share usually falls into a few different categories: Isolated David Bowie vocals, super-awkward studio outtakes with Art Garfunkel, and angry phone messages to reporters about drones. (As a journalist, I think the last one is my favorite. “DON’T YOU SUPERVISE THE SUB EDITORS WHO WRITE THESE HEADLINES!?”)
There’s also plenty of stuff that Marketplace has done that I would hope could go viral.
The key here is that audio just seems to take more time to get to the point. With an article or video, you can leave it quickly and plenty of watchers do: they check out the first few seconds, see if it catches their attention, and then either engage further or move on. Audio is more of a mystery. What might happen next? This is something that people who love radio talk about all the time, all of the “theater of the mind” stuff. I’m trying to imagine what might have happened if the Internet had been invented during the golden age of radio, roughly the 1930s and 1940s, and if the Internet could have been an audio medium rather than a primarily visual medium.
It will be interesting to see if any of the Marketplace audio clips submitted at the end of this story could go viral…