SpokenWord.org — The Features

We asked SpokenWord.org listeners to rate the various features of our service, and here’s what we learned:

Most Important

  • Browsing by category (2.8 out of 3.0)
  • Finding individual episodes (2.6)
  • Finding new RSS feeds (2.5)
  • Personal Collections (2.4)


  • Ratings (2.4)
  • Tags (2.4)
  • “Most popular” lists (2.3)
  • Improve the website design (2.2)
  • Automated recommendations (2.1)

“Don’t Need It”

  • iPod/iPhone integration (2.2)*
  • non-Apple device integration (2.2)*
  • A mobile-device version of the web site (2.0)
  • “Send to a friend” (1.7)
  • More screencast tutorials (1.7)
  • Following others’ collections (1.7)
  • Widgets for blogs (1.5)
  • Post to Twitter and/or Facebook (1.4)

* It might have been better to combine these into a choice for “mobile device integration.” Since our listeners are 50/50 Apple and non-Apple, the combined interest in mobile-device integration might have been quite high.

It seems that sharing and other social-networking features are among the least important to our listeners, whereas features for personal use rank quite highly.

We should also note that this is a survey of those who are registered for SpokenWord.org, and most likely those that find some value in the service as-is. Therefore these criteria are not necessarily the same as what might attract new users with difference preferences.

SpokenWord.org — Your Habits

Following up on my first post on the SpokenWord.org annual survey results…

  • 43% of respondents have created at least one collection. Half of them are actively using collections today.
  • 7% frequently rate programs or feeds. Another 35% do so, but rarely.
  • Listening/watching is done via:
    • Android devices (3%)
    • iPhones/iPods (56%)
    • iTunes on computers (37%)
    • other portable devices (45%)
  • 6% of respondents are paid members of The Conversations Network.
  • 8% have donated to The Conversations Network.
  • 1% have donated specifically to support SpokenWord.org.

SpokenWord.org — The Survey

We’ve just completed our annual survey of SpokenWord.org listeners and starting today I’ll be reporting some of the results here on Blogarithms. Overall:

  • We emailed a link to the survey to 3,176 registered members of SpokenWord.org.
  • 250 (8%) of those clicked through to the survey.
  • 174 started the survey.
  • 147 completed the survey.

“How important are…?” On a scale of 1 (Not for Me) to 3 (Important):

  • Audio (2.83) 86% said “Important (4.0)”
  • Video (1.91)
  • Free Audiobooks (2.29)
  • Paid (Audible.com) Audiobooks (1.70)

The ratio of audio/video is expected, but I was surprised to see the ratings of both free and paid audiobooks.

“Have you ever watched or listened to…?”

  • Public radio (70%)
  • Free audiobooks from Librivox.org (38%)
  • YouTube.edu (31%)
  • Paid audiobooks from Audible.com (27%)
  • Fora.tv (25%)
  • Free audiobooks from Podiobooks (20%)
  • WGBH Network Forum (11%)

Again, the surprise for me is the high percentage of listeners to both free and paid audiobooks.

The APIs are Here!

It may not be as exciting as when Steve Martin discovered “The new phone books are here!” in the 1979 Carl Reiner film The Jerk, but we are starting to roll out full APIs for SpokenWord.org. It’s a RESTful interface and the first flavor of response formats is JSON, so it should be easy to use from any programming language. (We plan to off XML responses as an option if enough developers complain about JSON.)

If you’ve used the Twitter APIs, you’ll see that we modeled ours after theirs in many ways. We also took the idea of a Remote Key for authentication from FriendFeed. (OAuth is coming soon.) The initial methods allow you to set and get ratings of programs, feeds and collections and to retrieve extended metadata about individual programs. We’ll be publishing new methods very quickly, but we’re anxious to get feedback from developers before we go too far. The full API documentation is available online. If you have comments, questions, suggestions or bug reports about the new APIs, post them to our API Forum or join our API Mailing List.

A special Thanks goes out to all of those who have participated on that list to help us design a set of APIs that people will actually use.

SpokenWord.org Town Hall Conference Call

Interested in what’s coming from SpokenWord.org? Want to participate in the discussion? Join us for a conference call on Thursday:

August 27, 2009
Noon Pacific Daylight Time
Phone Number: +1.724.444.7444
Call ID: 18232

It’s best to access via the TalkShoe web site if you want to speak or ask questions: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/18232

Our agenda will include:

  • new-feature planning
  • APIs
  • traffic-building activities

I hope you can join us on Thursday. If not, we’ll be making an MP3 recording available. Of course. Can’t make it? Email your questions or agenda items in advance: doug@conversationsnetwork.org