Curiously, the prevalence of cell phones has meant that fewer and fewer actual conversations take place, with people instead opting to text, email, tweet, and instant message. What’s more, media savants share links, pictures, music, and videos, while checking in to locations on Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter. A new movement, however, looks to try to share the spoken word in the digital world.
One particular social network is giving people an outlet to tell a story in audio form only. Broadcastr, a Brooklyn-based start-up group that launched earlier this week, collects audio clips related to certain locations, and offers those traveling the streets a chance to listen on different stories, ranging from the historically important to the funnily charming.
The project, founded by Scott Lindenbaum and Andy Hunter who met at Brooklyn College, has received a great amount of investment and optimism. “When we thought about audio, we thought that’s a way that someone can be invisibly plugged into a layer of information with their hands and eyes still free to interact with their landscape,” Lindenbaum told the New York Times.
They have collected stories from about 30 organizations that have audio archives, including Unicef and the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. While these stories exist on the network, anyone can share his or her own. There are numerous audio clips around ground zero in New York City where stories are told by volunteers, firefighters, police officers, and survivors. There are over 3,000 stories from NYC alone, but not all are serious; some people offer random musings, while others sing songs.
Locations are not only in New York City, but around the world, with clips associated to cities and places globally. A map on the Broadcastr home page shows stories from across six continents, stretching from as far north as Greenland all the way to New Zealand. Apps will soon be available for both the iPhone and the Android.
The idea has great potential in that it people can and have always incorporated audio into their daily lives. Music and podcasts work in the car, at the gym, and really most facets of daily life; audio will continue to complement most activities.
While there is plenty opportunity to enjoy stories, the network also offers people another media in which to express themselves. There are platforms for people to write, share pictures, and showcase videos, but there is no such large network for people to simply speak. In some cases, the spoken word can be far more powerful than the written one.
Provided the media can be easily sorted and organized, there seem numerous positive possibilities for such a network, especially when traveling. People can share intense and personal experiences across time; a traveler visiting a city for the first time can experience moments. One can catalogue a story so that family and friends may recall it later on in life when they visit the same spot. Almost akin to walking around a gallery with a phone that tells stories about art, a person can learn the history of a city not from just a book, but from voices.
Hopefully the network will continue to grow and make money in order to continue to survive. Like every media, it is the users that decided the quality and how to best take advantage of the product. While there may be inane ephemera, there is no shortage of interesting and important stories to be passed along.