Recently NPR introduced a special media player that many of its programs now employ on their websites.
Here are some pros and cons of version 1.2:
- The player automatically organizes shows into discrete segments. Thus if you click to listen to the entire Wait Wait Don’t Tell me episode the player displays it in labeled subsections, like “Not My Job”. That is really nice, and is just one part of the player’s…
- There is Jukebox playlist functionality. In addition to dividing shows into useful subsections the player also accumulates individual stories as you click on them. Thus you can browse the NPR website and click on a series of stories which gradually install themselves into the player’s playlist. It’s even easy to delete and re-order items in the playlist.
- Big Brother. As far as I know the player doesn’t give the listener the choice of downloading the clips for later playback. Downloadable files and podcasts must be provided separately on a show by show basis. Many programs, like “Wait Wait”, do indeed provide such files, but who knows how long that will last? Making media viewable only online is a nefarious trend that eliminates an important feature of the internet, and I don’t like anything that appears to be part of it.
- Playback problems. I have experienced a number of playback seizures, sometimes lasting several minutes, especially when trying to adjust the play head to hear a section again. Presumably this will improve over time.
Neither pro nor con:
- Advertisements occur within the playback. Listening is generally prefaced with an ad for, for example, NPR store digital radios. On the other hand the advertisements are far less obtrusive than the station IDs and sponsor messages every twenty minutes that you hear on the radio, not to mention PLEDGE DRIVES (curse them!), so I can’t really call these ads a net negative. On the other hand I can’t tell how often the ads are meant to display. Sometimes they play only before the first selection, sometimes, and I think this is just a bug because it’s far too often, they seem to play between each one.
Overall I think the player is a positive development and long overdue.
Props to the NPR web techs!