The Mobile Web, The Audio Medium, The Global South

the human in the loop: The Audio Medium: A Third World Revolution Waiting to Happen Even a cheap feature-phone can be made to play audio content. And cellphones have high penetration in the developing world .... Cellphones will need to support easy phone-to-phone transfer of audio content ..... Podcasts may be a niche medium in the U.S., but there will be enough demand for audio content in the developing world that it will be as ubiquitous as blogs are in the western world. And like blogs and other long tail text content, content publishers will create content without the expectation of revenue; this audio content will be free and/or ad-supported...... All the existing content in text form can automatically be converted into audio form. This is huge, because it makes all existing text content accessible to the developing world...... 5 centuries ago, the written word replaced the spoken word as the dominant means of information transfer. I am rooting for the spoken word to stage a comeback.

With the mobile phone, you are saying you don't have to wait for the full fledged computer to arrive. With audio you are saying literacy is not all that necessary. I believe this is a sound proposition.

So how will the mobile phone differentiate itself from FM radio? Or are you asking for FM radio enabled mobile phones? With audio through the mobile web, you are looking at short wave radio reach - pretty much global - with FM radio convenience. Not only that, the app should allow for easy sharing. There should be a retweet like feature. You like something? You share.

What might be even more revolutionary would be to make it super easy to create audio content on those mobile phones. Create. Then share. Content creation should be as easy as making phone calls. Instead of making phone calls, you create audio tweets. Or audio updates. Or audio posts. Longer.

Say what, this sounds awfully like podcasting, something the Twitter people gave up on and went ahead, hunkered down, and gave us Twitter. Or maybe they were not Third World farmers. Jack Dorsey, no Third World farmer.

Universal literacy still has to be the goal. But this audio thing is making a lot of sense. It makes sense also for the literate.

Audio + mobile = revolution.

Google wants you to be able to translate any webpage from one language to any other language. What about the ability to be able to turn any webpage into audio? Keep the language, just turn it into audio.

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Comments

That's a nice concept - turning web pages to audio. I do think it's quite similar to pagereader (which reads out the content of the page, as well as the metadata of images) for blind people in terms of technology, but only a difference in presentation. Is there a big enough demand for it so that a company would dare explore it I wonder?

- Janice Ratliff

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