Please Anchor, be a good citizen of the open web
I’ve tried Anchor today. It’s a service that let’s its users post short audio posts, like Twitter but for audio. Or put more accurately, it allows its users to make short-form podcasts. I thought it was really fun to use, and discussing a topic on it with a friend seemed much more fruitful that doing the same thing on Twitter.
The setup procedure in the app was simple and as far as I know there are no easier way of recording a piece of audio and broadcasting it ”to the people”. (Note the quotes.)
However, there are quite enough silos around already and I really don’t like to lock myself into yet another one. I want to own the data — or content if you prefer — that I create. Therefore I’d like the following:
- To be able to crosspost things (preferable POSSE, but PESOS can also work).
- To let people consume the things I make without having to use a specific app from a specific company.
I also want to mix and match sources. I want to be able to consume similar content in one app, not having to constantly switch from one app to the other just because people lock their content in various silos.
As I said in the beginning, what Anchor does is provide a way to easily record short-form podcasts and publishing them to the people following you. There is nothing about this that is new from a podcasting perspective. What is new, is how easy they’ve made it. I love that! But since they are podcasts I want to treat them as such. I want people to be able to listen to the things I publish even if they don’t have, never have had, nor ever will get, an account on Anchor.
So I would like Anchor to provide a way for its users to use the content they — the users that is — create outside of the Anchor. The simplest way to do this, that almost certainly would require very little effort on Anchor’s part, is to have some sort of feed for each user of the service. Making those feeds RSS feeds with <enclosure> elements would make them compatible with pretty much all podcatchers that are currently in use.
That would make the service so much less of a silo. It would mean that other people could listen to my stuff outside of Anchor and I could interleave the ”Waves”1 of people on Anchor with other short- or long-form podcasts that I listen to. It would also mean that I could set up automation to cross-post my waves to my own site.
And it wouldn’t even have to be RSS/XML. Any kind of easily parseable feed available without authentication would do for me. Once upon a time even Twitter provided this function for its users tweets and it was great.
Sure, it would be nice to have a posting API for Anchor and it would be equally nice to have a way of using their app to post directly to another service, or to my own blog, but the simple act of adding feeds would take them so far along the way of becoming good citizens of the open web. And I want them to be that since I thought the app and service was great, but I don’t want to lock up my content.
One good thing about it is that there are more or less easily accessible URLs for each Wave. Unfortunately, those URLs are not easily crawlable for the media they are meant to display.
I’ve asked Anchor, both on Anchor and on Twitter, whether they are going to add feeds or not. So far I’ve not gotten a respons. If you who read this also finds this important, please ask them about it you too. (They are @anchor on Twitter.)
So please Anchor, please, be a part of the open web. In your Medium posts you claim to be ”the world’s first true public radio”. Make this real by actually making the content created by your users public. Embrace feeds, embrace the open web.