Mobcasting

By | November 6, 2005

I haven’t posted about PhoneBlogger in quite a while, but I’m thinking about updating and enhancing some of the code. A lot has happened in the audio/phone blogging world since I announced PhoneBlogger January 9, 2003, and posted the PhoneBlogger source code on SourceForge.

One new buzzword is mobcasting. The Wikipedia page on mobcasting quotes Andy Carvin as writing:

A quick example: imagine a large protest at a political convention. During the protest, police overstep their authority and begin abusing protesters, sometimes brutally. A few journalists are covering the event, but not live. For the protestors and civil rights activists caught in the mêlée, the police abuses clearly need to be documented and publicized as quickly as possible.

This is quite similar to the scenario I was thinking of nearly three years ago when I announced PhoneBlogger:

A journalist could use it from a payphone (good luck finding one, though) or with a basic cellphone to immediately publish to the web from the scene of an unexpected event in progress. It’s moblogging for the people, man.

Note the quaint reference to a payphone. My point was that you wouldn’t need a fancy phone. Of course, mobile phones have come a long way since I wrote that. Carvin’s example also includes the use of camera/videophones, rather then just audio.

My favorite part of the Wikipedia article, though, is near the end where it says:

Carvin is now exploring the creation of an open-source mobcasting tool that could be installed on a server to allow for community mobcasts via a local telephone call.

I’ve been thinking about the same thing, too. While it makes life simpler for me to host the application with a VoiceXML hosting provider like BeVocal, I do like the idea of having a more self-contained app. It’s going to be pretty complicated, though, to sort out everything I need with a free PBX like Asterisk or sipX, a free VoiceXML browser like OpenVXI, a free ASR engine like Sphinx, and a free TTS engine like Festival. Dealing with PSTN calls will also be a hassle. If I implemented this, I would probably just deal with SIP. That led me down the path of looking into building or finding a SIP softphone that could run on a mobile phone. There is a Java API, JAIN-SIP, for building a Java SIP user agent. The phone would ned only a J2ME runtime. What with all these acronyms and integration efforts, I think you can guess why I haven’t taken all of this on by myself, yet.

I’m glad to see that people like Andy are doing really interesting things with audio blogging. I built PhoneBlogger solely because I thought it would be fun to build. I never really ended up using it.

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