Zettelkasten Forum

Referencing a time-point in a podcast or movie

When I put a quote from a podcast episode into a Zettel, I like to indicate when the quote starts.

An excerpt from a Zettel where I do this:

Rick Rubin talking about dealing with exaggerated expectations towards oneself [^Rick-Rubin:2019]@00:20:33

But moving forward to try to help work through this stuff, make something to where you're happy you made it. That's all. Like something you'd be happy to play for your friend. That would be the ultimate. That's the ultimate. I mean, for me, if I make something and I'm excited to play it for my friend, that's it? That's it, that's the whole mission.

[^Rick-Rubin:2019]: Andre 3000 Rick Rubin (2019): Andre 3000 and Rick Rubin In Conversation, Broken Record. https://brokenrecordpodcast.com/all#/episode-13-andre-3000-and-rick-rubin-in-conversation/, https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kmbih875dhtrlam/AABRV1UZjNaHtDqsgDy54-ZCa?dl=0

The @00:20:33 tells me at what time the quote starts. I handle the actual references to podcast episodes in BibTex with all my other sources.

It's relatively simple in practice to download the actual MP3 files of a podcast. In the example above, the Dropbox link points towards the audio file of the episode. So far, I've mostly downloaded the file as a backup if the episode is no longer available online.

I want a structured way to indicate which time range of an audio file is relevant for me. I see two options:

  1. A syntax in my Zettel that defines the file and range. [^Rick-Rubin:2019]@00:20:33 is the first try, but ideally, I wouldn't need to reinvent the wheel.
  2. An actual tool that supports ranges of audio files. For example, if VLC did this, I might be able to write vlc://example-episode.mp3[00:20:33]. I could add such links to my Zettel, and clicking on such a link would then play that snippet.

This is not something I need a solution to. The main value from the quotes comes from writing them down. But sometimes, listening to the person speaking adds richness. For video, the disconnect between the textual description and the source is even larger.

Do you have any experiences with indicating time ranges in audio or video?


  • @BasilPH, VLC can do this, but not in the way you describe. VLC can play any segment of any of the file formats it handles using a 'playlist.m3u' file in the format.


    How to Play Certain Sections and Part of Video and Audio in VLC
    This is not so easy and requires a third file. Potentially one could use Keyboard Maestro or AppleScript to create the playlist.m3u file, but currently, The Archive won't handoff to VLC or most other apps.

    I've processed a small number of longer podcasts and youtube videos into my archive, but I haven't considered this use case, but who knows what the future holds. I like the idea of marking a timestamp and have the playback start where the action is. The computer, instead of me, could handle less mousing around and the cognitive overhead. Maybe someone else will have a solution.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a zettelnant.
    Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing

  • I suggest checking out this Jon Udell article: https://blog.jonudell.net/2018/01/06/annotating-web-audio/

    He’s the creator of https://web.hypothes.is/.

  • I have ended up going the rather manual route with this. My citations are generally of the form [nameTitleYear, detail]. So in the "detail" I could write "56:00" or "4:13-5:60". It is of course not automatically linking me to the time stamp.

  • The only thing I do differently when quoting something from audio is to change the page reference to a time reference. Other than that, I see no point in any unique treatment.

    I am a Zettler

  • Thank you all for your responses! I like the idea of using page references or another "detail" field to store the timestamp. If I do this in a structured manner, I might be able to automatically process this data later and add a "Click to play" feature. I'll report back if this incremental approach leads me somewhere worth sharing.

    p.s. Happy Holidays!

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