As much as I was initially impressed with VoiceThread, I’ve noticed some severe limitations to the system. I still think it’s an extremely easy way to narrate a slide show and to solicit audio comments. I’ll probably still use it to create some quick narration to embed here and on other sites. However, I’m spotting some things that are not as nice as I’d like for them to be.
First, there is no way to download individual VoiceThreads for use in other applications such as PowerPoint. I’ve love to be able to snag an entire thread, including comments. I’d even settle for the ability to export a thread to an AVI file or similar format. Unfortunately, it looks like the system was designed so that the visual elements are stored separately from the comments, so I’m guessing this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. There is an option for downloading the original images and comments, but not in an actual VoiceThread format. As it stands, if you’re trying to teach a lesson and you suddenly lose Internet connections (which can happen at the worst possible moment) you’re screwed.
My second complaint is that the RSS feed provided on the site are a bit confusing. There is a feed for new threads on the “Browse” section, and a feed on the “My Threads” section. The “Browse” feed seems to carry links to new threads as they are created. I’m guessing the “My Threads” feed reports new comments to your threads. However, this isn’t entirely clear.
I would love to have more control over the comments themselves, rather than just the ability to delete them. I’d like to have approval before any comment is posted. I think this is just a learning issue for me. For example, someone left an an audio comment on one of my threads that said, and I quote, “…this is just so very interesting, blah, blah, blah.” I’m not happy that the comment appeared without my knowledge or consent.
Not only would I like to moderate the comments, but I would also like some control over placement, and have the ability to rearrange the comments to my liking. As it is, they show up in the order in which they are recorded.
And finally, I wish there were a way to use simply HTML in the text comments so that you could include hyperlinks, etc. This seems like such a simple thing to ask.
Even with these shortcomings, I do still like the system. I’ve just created a Yahoo Pipe that parses the threads for place names in the title, then displays these on a map. I didn’t work exactly as I had imagined, but it actually does a BETTER job of geotagging than I had thought.