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Storytelling at your Fingertips: Broadcastr

March 15, 2011

by Katherine Molineux

Broadcastr’s new app will allow people to create and share recordings on an interactive map.  Screenshot: http://beta.broadcastr.com/

Museum audio tours no longer exist solely within the walls of the institution.  Audio content can be accessed anytime, anywhere through downloadable gallery tours, lectures, conferences and more.  While museums are harnessing the power of social media as a way to connect with, and build, a two-way interaction with audiences, when it comes to audio content, there is still a ways to go.  More often than not in the museum world we are audio consumers, not creators.  The recent launch of Broadcastr, a free location-based audio social networking platform, might help to bridge this gap.

With Broadcastr the ability to consume, communicate, curate and create audio content is literally at your fingertips. While still in beta form, Broadcastr enables users to record their stories and peg them to a location through the Broadcastr website or through this week’s release of an iPhone and Android app.  We are all storytellers, and now users have the ability to listen to and communicate those stories in situ, essentially creating, as Broadcastr notes, “a museum tour of the entire world.”

There are already thousands of stories available on Broadcastr, and as it grows in popularity so too will the breadth of content. This presents an invaluable opportunity for cultural institutions to reach beyond their walls and connect with people in unexpected and less formal ways.  It can help to create connections between museum collections and their context by tapping into the power of place.  It can allow visitors to record their thoughts, emotions and reactions to a museum exhibition.

It can also take the museum audio tour experience out of the museum and into the street.  The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, for example, has already partnered with Broadcastr, posting selections from the Museum’s oral history archive online as well as enabling users to listen to the stories of 9/11 based on physical location as visitors move around the World Trade Center site.

It will be interesting to see how Broadcastr develops, and how cultural institutions in particular tap into the power of digital storytelling. Broadcastr is one such tool that aims to achieve these ends on a global scale – are there others that do the same?

More information can be found at: www.broadcastr.com

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