Seven Projects to Stretch Your Digital Wings: Part Two

9/11/09Follow @wroush

Whether the fall is back-to-school season for you or not, there’s always more to learn. In last week’s column I outlined three fun weekend projects involving new technologies for digital self-expression. My suggestions covered art (digital “finger painting” with an iPhone app called Brushes), writing (“lifestreaming” with Posterous and Friendfeed), and photography (building three-dimensional photographic spaces with Photosynth). This week I’ve got two more digital projects in mind for you, this time in the areas of podcasting and computer animation. Next week, I’ll finish up with maps and virtual worlds.

I’m writing this three-part column because I think it’s an exciting time for anyone who’s interested in consumer-level digital media tools. Not only are we seeing a profusion of inexpensive new gadgets for capturing media—witness Apple’s announcement Wednesday that the new iPod Nano will have a built-in digital video camera—but there are also many new Web-based services where creators can edit, enhance, share, and promote their media creations. The only way to keep up with all these new technologies is just to jump in and try them. So let’s get back to it:

4. Become an Amateur Podcaster with AudioBoo

When podcasting first took off four or five years ago, most podcasters tried to emulate radio hosts, kitting out their podcasts with fancy musical intros and outros and other audio goodies. Just to experiment with podcasting, you needed a pricey microphone and recording rig, audio editing software, and a working knowledge of RSS, iTunes, and other distribution methods. But thanks to a bit of good old technological progress, the barriers are now much lower. In fact, producing a podcast these days can be just about as easy as making a phone call. Which means that dictating a few off-the-cuff thoughts on your mobile device and uploading them to the Web is becoming a realistic alternative to blogging and other more familar forms of Web-based communication.

This is precisely the point of AudioBoo, a UK-based service that I profiled in July. If you live in the UK (or if you’re willing to splurge on an international phone call), you can call AudioBoo from any phone and record some thoughts, then publish the the recording straight to AudioBoo.fm, which is basically a giant community audio blog featuring recordings or “boos” from all AudioBoo users.

But if you have an iPhone, you can use the nifty AudioBoo app to do the same thing, without the phone calls or the attendant charges. The app has a voice recording function that lets you talk for up to five minutes. It then uses your wireless data connection to upload the finished boo to the AudioBoo.fm, along with a photograph and a map of your location, if you wish. Fans can listen to your boos at the site, or they can subscribe and get new boos delivered via RSS or iTunes. The AudioBoo site also provides some handy code that you can use to embed your boos in your blog.

In fact, by doing a bit of social media marketing to promote your boos, you could turn AudioBoo into your own personal audio publishing empire. Somewhat to my surprise, I haven’t … Next Page »

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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