Broadcastr

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One new and intriguing storytelling app is Broadcastr. It’s a place for people to upload and share recorded, geotagged stories.

The interface is simple: a map of the world takes up most of the space with blue pinpoints to mark story locations. Audio controls are on the left along with a list of available stories that fit the region and search criteria.

The site’s still in beta, and they’re adding new features like smart phone apps that let you record and upload stories on the go. The masses haven’t hit the site yet, and if they do, it has the potential to become quite interesting.

Currently almost all of the posts (worldwide) are in English. This makes sense — it’s a new site, it’s in English, most early adopters are probably upper/middle class folks. At first I was disappointed to hear American voices in Japan, South Africa, and Brazil, but it’s still fun to click on a pin and listen to a real, unexpected voice.

UNICEF has a channel of reports from locations around the world. Hit and Run History offers profiles of figures, families, and events from along the New England coast. They’re edited and well produced and could air on an NPR station (if they don’t already). I also liked Invisible-5‘s project. Their description from the site:

“Invisible-5 is a self-guided audio tour along California’s I-5 corridor between SF and LA.”

“Invisible-5 investigates the stories of people and communities fighting for environmental justice along the I-5 corridor, through oral histories, field recordings, found sound, recorded music, and archival audio documents. The project also traces natural, social, and economic histories along the route.”

It reminded me a little bit of Halsey’s piece on race at the Museum of Science, “Voices without Faces,” which I wrote about last month.

Broadcastr could be a powerful tool for telling the stories of marginalized communities or for sharing personal experiences. The first stories I gravitated toward were located in Egypt and Japan because I wanted to hear directly from people who live there.

But I also wonder how a tool like Broadcastr could be used fictionally. The barely existing novel I work on when I’m taking a break from my WIP is set in Cambridge, MA. Could I record and tell my character’s story as a series of geotagged monologues? Of course the experience would be different (and most likely non-linear), but it might be illuminating to record and place a scene or two, giving the story a virtual voice and setting.

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