calling the blog

An intuitive form of phone-based storytelling is simply to pick up the phone, dial a number and tell a story. Our tests with IDEPSCA’s Popular Communication team are promising: this feels very natural, much faster and simpler than texting. It’s also accessible to almost anyone, regardless of literacy skills. Combined with pictures to create narrated slide shows, this has lots of potential. We eventually will set up asterisk voice support on our drupal site but, in the meantime, we have been experimenting with a couple of work-arounds.

Podcasts-by-phone: We have been using gcast ( The embed code provided by gcast doesn’t work with our drupal site, but we can subscribe to an RSS feed of the called-in podcasts.  While this works, the sequence of numbers and keys required to record a podcast is cumbersome. It’s easy to make mistakes, especially since all the voice prompts are in English and can’t be customized.
[cost: free set-up, toll-free call to record]

VoIP-voicemail: We set up a gizmo VoIP account (, bought a call-in number local to L.A., and set up voice mail so messages are emailed as *.wav files to the drupal site. There, mailhandler converts them to mp3 attachments to blog posts. This is much easier for the users than gcast: only one local phone number to dial, we can record an outgoing greeting in Spanish, they record their story after the beep and hang up when they are done. Voice messages are limited to 2-minutes.
[cost: free gizmo acct, $12/3-months call-in local number]

Reactions from our test team have been positive so far. They especially seem to like the simpler voicemail set-up. One interesting aspect is that it feels quite natural to interview other people while holding a phone – ofter less intimidating than sticking a microphone in their face…


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