Slate gives podcasts the silent treatment

News and culture webzine Slate has started publishing its content as “textcasts” – podcast content comprising mainly textual material.

So far, the new medium has mostly been used to push audio series to PCs and music players, but the site started delivering its Today’s Papers news wrap-up as a silent podcast this week.

Textcasting takes advantage of newer iPods’ ability to display other material synchronised with audio playback, and fills a gap left open by the slow arrival of standardised e-book readers.

“The iPod is not currently configured as a text reader, so we’ve done our best to work around the device’s limitations,” said senior editor Andy Bowers.

“It’s 15 minutes of silence. Play the file as you would any other podcast. You can scroll through the text using the iPod’s scroll wheel.

“We think of it as a great way to increase the number of Slate features available as podcasts without making me and June Thomas hoarse from too much reading aloud.”

The webzine, started by Microsoft and now owned by Washington Post Company, already has a daily podcast including topical content.