At the eBook Summit in New York Wednesday, a new social storytelling network and application debuted, and it looks pretty interesting. It's called Broadcastr, and its was created by Electric Literature co-founders Andy Hunter and Scott Lindenbaum.
In a nutshell, Broadcastr offers an application that lets people record audio stories tagged to specific geographical locations around the world. The storytellers, Broadcastr hopes, will both create compelling tales and imbue places with new meanings through the voices of strangers. The site has one of the most compelling promo trailers (audio, of course) that I've experienced. I hate trailers -- but I couldn't bring myself to turn this one off. The collage of voices was fascinating.
Broadcastr is yet another logical evolution in the democratization of media and storytelling, like the crazy wedding dance that a sassy young couple created to the delight of millions of YouTube viewers, or the often riveting stories that unfold each week on the unmissable radio broadcast/live performance/podcast The Moth. Broadcastr describes itself this way:
"We tweet. We blog. We YouTube. We connect on Facebook. What about our voices? Now, we broadcast them. Broadcastr is a new Social Media platform. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can record, index, listen to, and share audio via a map-based interface. From the historical to the hysterical, the hilarious to the anecdotal, Broadcastr amplifies all our voices."
Slick promo copy, for sure. And whether the Broadcastr community, as it develops, can live up to the hype is an open question. Recording audio is difficult to do well, especially on the fly. That infamous wedding dance video, of course, required some practice. The stories presented on The Moth are clearly well rehearsed.
So to work, Broadcastr will not only need to tap into the deeply human need to hear compelling stories but also into the ability of storytellers who can craft tales in a more than haphazard fashion. Technologically, there's no real magic here -- though perhaps a nifty recommendation engine would enhance stickiness. But as a concept, this is really interesting.
As for monetization, I have no idea what Broadcastr can really expect. Sponsorships and advertising could be a possibility. Pandora has shown that free online radio is a real revenue generator, and people will even pay for audio content if the quality is high enough.
I'll definitely be downloading and listening to Broadcastr as it evolves. Everyone has a great story to tell, and maybe this will be a way we can all hear more of them.