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MIT Plans To Convert Cell Phone Users Into Podcasters 90

robyn217 writes "A new research project at MIT's Media Lab, entitled RadioActive, aims to turn every cell phone or PDA carrying member of the public into a podcaster, and every mobile device into a virtual podcasting studio. The project defines a large-scale asynchronous audio messaging system in which voice messages can be threaded like text in a discussion forum (like on Slashdot) as a method of 'discussion-on-demand.'"
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MIT Plans To Convert Cell Phone Users Into Podcasters

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, 2006 @04:44PM (#15368603)
    MP3 ON THE INTERNET" confirm/deny

    [x] confirm
  • by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <> on Friday May 19, 2006 @04:45PM (#15368611)
    Perfect! This is just what we need to get the general public even more convinced that they have a damn clue what they're talking about.
    • Quality comes from editing. This MIT progect would seem to increase quantity with no effective means to edit, so quality will slide and make the whole project meaningless.

      There are some very high quality podcasts and these will take approx 10 hours of editing etc per hour of audio, but for the most part podcasting is becoming a way for people to dump their vacant minds on audio. Podcasting is much like blogging in that respect except it is far easier to generate a crap podcast (push mike button and spew for

  • That's nice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @04:45PM (#15368612)
    Another useless feature that I don't need on my cell phone. The phone companies will probably charge the heck out of it. Bad enough I'm paying $0.10 USD per instant message spam that I'm getting every month since I can't turn it off.
    • This may or not work for you but all the spam I've gotten via IM (not very much) has been via email. Verizon at least lets you set an aribtrary, random email alias for your phone number, and then block email sent to or whetever their domain is.

      This works for me since the only email I ever intend to get via my phone is pages from my own personal servers.
    • "Another useless feature that I don't need on my cell phone."

      Yes...and yet oddly nobody is forcing you to buy a phone with this feature or forcing you to use it. Every story like this someone whines that all they want is a simple cell phone that just makes calls.

      They sell those. Quit whining, go to a manufacturers website and find one, buy it, and shut the hell up.

      • Actually, I do have one of those phones (except I still get the spam). I just love to point out that not everyone needs all these fancy features. My ex-roommate had a phone loaded with extra features that were cool but the phone was so delicate that he kept returning it every 30 days for three months to be replaced. Finally, he got a more ruggard phone with fewer features.
        • "Actually, I do have one of those phones (except I still get the spam). I just love to point out that not everyone needs all these fancy features."

          Yes.....and my point was that we got the hint the first 50,000 times people bitched and moaned when we had stories about new cell phone features.

          We get the hint, no need to repeat it. Its really not appropriate for this kind of discussion.

    • This comments thread is weird; I looked at this thing and thought: "hm. I might actually be talked into buying a cell phone now"

      You heard me: I don't own a cell phone. I actually can't stand phones in general. My friends who have figured this out call me and our conversations go like this:

      Me: Hello?
      Him: Hey, when does Drop Trio start?
      Me: 9:30
      Him: Cool, see you there
      (hangs up)

      I like strong, quick entry-and-exit points for conversations. An audio version of what is essentially a message board is

    • Yeah, I hope they make some libraries out of it. I think being able to record podcasts on a PDA is useful. It's not an earthshaking technology, but a neat thing none the less.

      Incidentally, I really hate to sound like a troll, but I'm not impressed by the Media Lab's research anymore. I say this as someone whose looking for a research area for grad school. All of the "really cool" research seems to be elsewhere. While MIT certainly has a lot of good research and good degree programs; MIT used to be syno
  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, 2006 @04:45PM (#15368615)
    In Russia, you listen to podcast. In Soviet America, podcast listens to you!
  • The article forgot to mention that google want to index these conversations as part of their quest to make all information searchable.
  • I think if this public service announcement [] teaches us anything, it's that voice debate on the Internet is a bad thing.

  • Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    As if there aren't enough totally useless text-based blogs filling up the internet, now our phones will be able to stream a constant flow of totally useless podcasts. I'm not sure which is worse, reading poor grammar in blogs on ugly looking websites, or trying to understand the voices of numerous self-important podcasters.

    Just imagine if ever /. post was a min-podcast instead. How'd you like to try to listen to them all? The different voices (accents, etc) would drive me away in very little time.
    • Re:Great (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
      The real problem with audio is skimming, or the lack thereof. With text I can glance around and my brain will automatically do background processing, flagging any words that are interesting to me (like, say, "boobs") so that they stand out from the text without any kind of syntax highlighting or similar. With audio, I can't do that. The best you can do is speed it up while pitch-shifting it down so you can still recognize voices, but even someone who speaks very slowly can typically only be sped up to doubl
    • ...Uh hello?

      Yeah...I wanted to uh comment on post one five three six eight six four and uh ... just sec got replay it... uh six. Yeah and uh [sound of bus passing] so anyway... hang on got a call coming in ... uh where was I? Oh right.. that's about it I guess. Bye!
    • The bigger problem would be listening to the duplicate submissions over and over and over again...
    • Yeah man... The last thing we need is more mindless log/ podcasts, and other junk. HELL with this!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "She received [a lot of] phone calls from people who didn't really have anything to say, but were bored," Donath said. "They were walking or driving, so they took out their phone and called their friends looking for entertainment."

    I guess what they REALLY need is a life. This is just bandaid'ing the underlying problem.

  • Cause I'm sooo over the other great features I enjoy on my phone, like the camera, MP3 player, image/video viewing, FM radio...

    Wouldn't phones be a lot nicer if they were just plain and simple? I hear the Japanese market is shifting back towards simplicity in the phone market, surely the rest of the world should hurry up and follow their lead.

    Just a thought..
    • Re:Ohh thats lucky (Score:2, Interesting)

      by porcupine8 ( 816071 )
      Wouldn't phones be a lot nicer if they were just plain and simple?

      Mine is quite nice as it is. No color display, no MP3 player, no camera, heck I'm not even sure I can download ringtones to it. I've had it for nearly three years and it works just great for exactly what I need it for - making phone calls.

      When my husband got his first cel phone last year, he was annoyed that the most basic free one they'd give him was a flip-phone with a color display. He wanted one as simple as mine.

      • My father had a similarly simple phone for the longest time. Above anything else, the most annoying part of mine is the insane startup time. Back just a few years ago when the only thing on the screen was the number you'd just dialed, it was on almost instantly - cell phones used to be, in effect, appliance computers (like DVD players). Now they've got so much useless junk on them that it literally takes longer to boot than my PC, has fewer features and almost nothing that's actually usable (it's not eve
    • regarding the japanese going for simplicity... care to post some references? I find this very interesting.
    • Re:Ohh thats lucky (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Zadaz ( 950521 )
      In what sense are Japanese phones getting more simple? Like this one by au []? or this one from DoCoMo []?

      I live in Tokyo half the year and I'm much more likely to see people video conferencing or using 3D GPS mapping, or using it as a credit card than using the grandpa phone []. Of course people hardly talk on the phone in Japan. My Japanese calling plan give me 50 minutes of talk time a month, but unlimited text messages (the most popular plan with my carrier). In hind sight I should have gotten the 10 minute

  • by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @05:13PM (#15368849)
    I mean, leaving video messages back and forth is no more useful than leaving text messages for one important reason: You lose the fluidity of real conversation/discussion. If I'm having a heated discussion with someone about something, it's nice to be able to get a word in edge-wise so I can properly have a conversation with them. And facial cues/expressions kinda don't work when you can't gauge audience reaction.
    • I Don't See the Point...

      Every cell-phone enabled citizen would be able to broadcast the truth of whatever is happening anywhere. Bush won't let protesters near a rally? Crash the party. What are they going to do, arrest everyone with a cell phone? The pictures of the Secret Service trying to arrest hundreds of people doing nothing more than exercising their constitutional rights are money-in-the-bank news coverage. Are you the guy who tells people wearing Kerry shirts to Bush rallies that they're not allowe
  • at 1 cent/kB, a phone-cast would not only suck, it would cost a weeks pay to upload wirelessly!

    is a grant for this tied to the pile o cash just delivered to verizon from the boyus at NSA?

  • Yet another thing to do in the car while driving "safely"!

    The phone companies will love it too as users minutes skyrocket.

    Now if only they could teach my sister to lock her keypad so she doesn't call me or podcast from her purse.
  • by shootTheMessenger ( 768396 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @05:22PM (#15368931)
    ... hundreds of people in geek-infested cities all shouting "First!" into their cell phones.
  • by jbloggs ( 535329 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @05:24PM (#15368947)

    its only 'podcasting' in the sense that you're recording audio for others consumption. its much more about the discussions within a community (local physical/social context)....

    For more info here's the project website []

    this was recently used in the elens [] project, and its video can be found here [].

    a live demo should be up this weekend

  • I thought LiveJournal at has already been doing this for at least 6 months???? (Doesn't seem very innovative or new to me?)
  • by JFMulder ( 59706 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @05:37PM (#15369057)
    Honnestly, some people talk so loudly on their cell phone, it's already some form of podcasting.
  • by ready29003 ( 745552 ) on Friday May 19, 2006 @06:10PM (#15369277) Homepage [] is already doing this in a web based version. It is pretty clear to see how this could be integrated with a mobile phone interface.
  • There is no way that audio files can be read in parallel in the same way that text can be scanned. No one would ever trudge through an audio forum... that's just nuts!

    Neither is it reasonable to assume that we could convert it all to text to scan it either - this is cell phones with tiny screens; they simply can't scan through volumes of data.

    Would YOU read /. on a mobile phone?
  • Let's make radio programs with the world's best audio equipment (micro-powered radios with shitty microphones trying to carry analog data over a digital signal) and expect people to understand what they're saying!

    CB radios with bad antennas on noisy channels get better sound quality than mobile phones. This is useless...

  • I just had the best idea ever! And this time I didn't forgot to write it down!

    I call it "Soapboxcasting."

    It requires a soapbox; climbing up on the soapbox somehow (I think AJAX will make that simple). Then, after exchanging headers with the recipients, you simply start talking, utilizing the already largely available atmosphere to transmit the soundwaves.

    This is going to completely revolutionize the world as we know it! Just think about it, one soapboxcast at every street corner. And how simple it is, u
  • Paid LJ subscribers can call a phone number and record an audio entry into their LiveJournal. Have been able to for some time. It doesn't have the whole threading thing, but I've recorded entries from my cellphone before.

    Meanwhile, [] allows anyone with a computer and a microphone to become a podcaster, using simplified Flash-based audio tools []. Hook a phone interface to Odeo and you'd probably be set.
  • A million monkeys with a million typewriters......
  • Yet another fucking literal definition for signal-to-noise.
  • Isn't that what the film Antitrust was about?

    In which case, I'll take RLC, and I'll see y'all around.
  • Now,I won't just have to listen to the prattling of that cellphone-in-public twit when I am out and about. I can eavesdrop on their vacant lives from the comfort of my computer workstation at home!

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.