On audio slideshows

Rob Galbraith’s website  had a recent news item about audio slideshows and how they are being used by newspapers on their websites. Galbraith’s cited example is from the Miami Herald. Even our own Sydney Morning Herald has an audio slideshow of the recent Panamax ship stranded on the beach at Newcastle.

The audio slideshow is simply a combination of still images and audio mixed into a particular story. Newspapers like to use them because they combine the photographs from a staff photographer or freelancer with the story from the journalist or sound from an interview a journalist has recorded. Audio slideshows are just another way for a newspaper to leverage content that it already has. However, the skill is still in the telling of a story and using the series of visual images to support, either factually or emotionally, that story.

The combination of stills and audio is not something unique to newspapers. There are many YouTube “videos” that use stills and audio in combination, often related to a particular song and images relating to either the content of the song or to the particular singer or group. See this example from Australian pop group, The Veronicas.

In fact, when I was in primary school in the 1960’s I can remember working on (audio)tape slideshows for the school library (with a bell sound at the end of each spoken segment to indicate when to change the slide in the projector). Many years later, for a multimedia project at university, I made an audio slideshow called “Why?” about homeless men in the inner city of Sydney. In both examples, I was combining a series of still images with audio, including music and simple voice-overs. The mixing of still photography and audio is still alive today, using more sophisticated technology to assemble and digitise the output.

So what does all this mean in terms of communication, media, and knowledge management? Firstly, audio slideshows are a way to communicate and present information. Audio slideshows therefore represent a form of content that needs to be produced for a particular audience. Secondly, for media production, journalists and newspapers find them attractive and relatively easy to assemble for their websites, thereby combining existing content in a different way. Rob Galbraith has a longer news item about that. And thirdly, audio slideshows can be used for knowledge management where images reinforce the spoken information and where videocasting may not be possible. Content distribution can be via intranet and internet sites. One could say that audio slideshows are akin to visual podcasts and thus add considerably more impact with supporting images.

Yet, the technology is advancing even further – we now have the development of visual radio – more on that in a later post.

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