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 mÃªlÃ©e, 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. Itâ€™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.