Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth

June 23, 2008

Arianna Huffington, Matt Stoller and a Quick Qikstream

Filed under: Mobcasting — Andy Carvin @ 2:02 pm

NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday conducted an interview with Arianna Huffington and Matt Stoller at the Personal Democracy Forum conference earlier today, and I tagged along to shoot a live mobile stream of it. Here’s the archive of the interview:

April 19, 2008

Utterz Demo at PodcampDC

Filed under: Mobcasting,Podcasts,Social Media — Andy Carvin @ 2:40 pm


This is a mobcast I recorded using my mobile phone at PodcampDC. You’ll hear me explaining Utterz, the tool I used to create the mobcast.   Replies.  mp3

April 16, 2008

Waiting for the Popemobile

Filed under: Mobcasting — Andy Carvin @ 12:34 pm

With the Pope in DC this week, I thought I’d run down to the White House to see the Pope travel down Pennsylvania Ave in his famous Popemobile. I streamed some video on my mobile phone; here are some of the highlights.
Crowds of people – supporters and protesters alike – gathering along Pennylvania Ave. (This video is long; about 20 minutes.)

Video of the Popemobile passing by in a flash:

Anti-Pope/anti-gay protesters in front of the White House:

April 4, 2008

Mobile Phones, Human Rights and Anonymity

Filed under: Citizen Journalism,Human Rights,Mobcasting,Social Media — Andy Carvin @ 3:37 pm

I’ve been playing around with my new Nokia N95 for the last couple of weeks and quite amazed with its ability to stream live video from the phone to the Internet. Like last weekend when I streamed from the Smithsonian Kite Festival; for around 30 minutes I gave a tour of the festivities and took questions from users as they watched the stream over the Internet.
I’ve also spent some time talking it up with colleagues at NPR, brainstorming the possibilities of what would happen if reporters used these phones – or if their sources did. The example that keeps coming to mind regarding the latter scenario is the rioting in Tibet. While some video has leaked out, it’s been limited and often delayed. Imagine if the protestors were able to webcast their protests – and the ensuing crackdowns – live over their phones using China’s GSM network? The video would stream live and get crossposted via tools like YouTube, Seesmic and Twitter, spreading the content around so it can’t be snuffed.
But that raises an obvious question – how long could protestors or dissidents get away with such activities before getting caught? If you were running software on your phone to send live video over a 3G network, like I’ve been doing on my N95, you’d think it wouldn’t take too much effort on the part of the mobile provider and/or government to figure out which phone was sending the signal and its precise location.
So that got me wondering: is there a mobile equivalent of Tor?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, TOR is a software project that helps Internet users remain anonymous. Running the TOR software on your computer causes your online communications to bounce through a random series of relay servers around the world. That way, there’s no easy way for authorities to track you or observe who’s visiting banned websites. For example, let’s say you’re in Beijing and you publish a blog the authorities don’t like. If you just used your PC as usual and logged into your publishing platform directly, they could follow your activities and track you down. With Tor, you hop-scotch around: your PC might connect to a server in Oslo, then Buenos Aires, then Miami, then Tokyo, then Greece before it finally connects to your blogging platform. Each time you did this, it would be a different series of servers. That way, it’s really difficult for authorities to trace your steps.
As dissidents and protestors embrace mobile devices for conducting civil disobedience or recording human rights violations, it would make sense for Tor and projects like it to adapt to their needs. That way, if that hypothetical protestor in Lhasa tried to stream live video over Qik, post a photo to Flickr or record a mobcast via over Utterz, they’d lessen the chance of getting caught so easily.
Does anyone know if there’s a mobile equivalent of Tor, relaying voice connections or data from one network to another, anonymizing the user of the phone? If not, is it technically feasible? How might one go about creating one?

March 28, 2008

DC Cherry Blossoms Walking Tour

Filed under: Mobcasting,Video — Andy Carvin @ 3:17 pm


Today during my lunch break I streamed some live video over my N95 mobile phone from the Tidal Basin in Washington DC, home to the annual blossom of DC’s famous cherry blossom trees. The first video didn’t work so well – I had the video at such a high resolution the network crashed – but the second take worked like a charm. The video is about 16 minutes long, and features lots of cherry blossoms, some helicopters, and my disembodied voice talking about the history of cherry trees in DC. My wife Susanne and daughter Kayleigh even make a brief cameo – they were touring the cherry blossoms with my mother-in-law and I bumped into them near the FDR memorial. Enjoy! -andy

December 21, 2007

Highlights from the NPR Utterz-Twitter Experiment

Filed under: Blogging,Cool Tools,Mobcasting — Andy Carvin @ 4:49 pm

This week, NPR’s Morning Edition will air a series on the 10th anniversary of the word “weblog” and the impact of blogging over the last decade. I’ve been helping the producers in a variety of ways, like writing a timeline tracing blogging’s origins, tracking down interesting bloggers for them to interview and writing a story on my own experience with blogging over the years. (I’ll post links to them once they go online.)
I also sat down with a producer from Morning Edition to do a demo of the mobile audio blogging service Utterz and the microblogging tool Twitter. We were curious to see what kinds of responses we’d get from Utterz Twitter users to this question: “What are you doing for New Year’s Eve, and what do you wish you were doing?” We got 70 replies, and I thought I’d share some of the highlights.
For Utterz, I recorded the question as a voicemail over my mobile phone, which then got cross-posted onto my Utterz page, my blog and my Twitter account.
We got 42 replies to the question this way, including this one from video blogger Jonny Goldstein, who talks about attending a Chinese banquet with his in-laws:

Wendy Drexler, a teacher in Florida, described a trip she’s taking to Maine:

Fricka, who designs apparel for gamers, recalls how she spent one New Year’s eve helping a mother and baby after their car caught on fire:

It should come as no surprise that Hawaiian blogger InfinityPro is happy to be home in Hawaii:

In contrast, technology evangelist Len Edgerly would prefer to toast the new year with Barack Obama:

One Utterz user who goes by the name “rcow” doesn’t know what he’s doing because his wife plans all of their social engagements:

Jennifer Sardam, who writes the literary blog Observed in Books, plans to work on her reading goals for 2008, even though she’d rather be celebrating another new year in Germany:

Over at Twitter, meanwhile, I received 28 replies. Some of my favorites:

kthread: happy to be ringing in the new year partying with close friends at my house, attempting to make this: http://tinyurl.com/39rcsu
leh4: What I wish I were doing: scuba diving somewhere WARM. what i’m actually doing: moving into my new apt
karynromeis: I’m going to a party at my church. I wish I was going to a party with my friends back in Cape Town!
vgloucester: Probably sleeping – probably sleeping…lol.
ruby: I’ll be at the beach with my friends and our families for the 11th New Year’s in a row! It’s ritual of laziness+food+drink+love.
ryanne: we don’t have plans yet, but probably something low key!
ClareLane: Going to Sedona for R&R with nature and spirit and college roomie and our hubbies. Am very happy doing just that Thanks!
jonnygoldstein (supplementing his Utterz post): i’m will be in NYC. Going to Chinese midnight banquet with my wife and in laws. Wish I was going to be inebriated at some blow out.
digitalmaverick: I’ll be, as every true Scot, wearing my kilt and singing Auld Lang Syne at a party, then at the bells I’ll 1st Foot my neighbours
kanter: raising money for cambodian orphans http://tinyurl.com/yryffz
jensimmons: I’m sleeping on much of New Years, recovering from hauling all my stuff to Jersey. I’m thinking about heading to a yoga retreat.
Darshell: Hope to be going out with the hubby- dinner, dancing, etc but will probably be home with the kids. Who wants to babysit new year’s?
Karoli: staying home watching the ball drop on the high-def TV. wish I were going to Corona del Mar and chilling
tigerbeat: not sure yet. Probably be up late enough to listen to the 3 am feed of Morning Edition on KQED. Wish i were somewhere warm & sunny
JoeGermuska: spending it in with friends, which is just the way I like it
BrassT: Watching movies and playing boardgames with the kids and hubby :-) How late will the kids sleep if I let them stay up til 12?

But my favorite reply came in the form of two responses from blogger/artist Susan Reynolds:

NEW YEARs eve home in VA recovering from breast cancer surgery but encouraged by all of you. Twitter pea avatars = VISIBLE Support
NEW YEARs eve – what I wish I was doing? I can’t imagine feling more loved, so no celebration could be better

For those of you who don’t follow Twitter, about two weeks ago Susan announced via Twitter that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would have surgery on December 21. Susan even created a blog called Boobs on Ice to document her sudden transformation into a cancer patient, including how she soothed the pain of her biopsies by using bags of frozen peas as a compress.
Almost immediately, the Twitter community responded. Dozens of people started changing their profile picture to show them with a bag of frozen peas, to show their solidarity with Susan. That gesture then morphed into a photo sharing group on Flickr, which now has almost 300 pictures of Twitter users with their bags of peas.
Meanwhile, it didn’t take long for Utterz to get into the mix. NBC cameraman Jim Long, better known to the Twitter community as NewMediaJim, recorded an impromptu interview with Susan using Utterz, just after she finished her pre-op visit:

By the time Susan’s surgery took place on the 21st, Twitter users had organized a fundraising campaign called the Frozen Pea Fund, asking people to donate to the American Cancer Society in Susan’s name. Nearly 120 people donated more than $3500 in the first 24 hours. If that doesn’t demonstrate the power of Twitter and Utterz as tools for building community, I’m not sure what would. -andy

December 18, 2007

Demoing Utterz for NPR’s Morning Edition; Your Help Needed!

Filed under: Mobcasting — Andy Carvin @ 2:49 pm

Right now I’m recording a demo of Utterz with a producer from Morning Edition. We just posted question to Twitter – "What are you doing for New Years and what do you wish you were doing?" – and we’re asking it on Utterz as well to see what kind of replies we get in the next 24 hours. You can also reply using other tools like Seesmic, blip.tv, etc – whatever you want. Just be sure to let me know either by replying to me on Twitter or posting a comment below if you’re not a Twitter user. And please keep your responses clean as we may use them on air. Thanks!

Mobile post sent by acarvin using Utterz Replies.  mp3

December 14, 2007

Another Utterz Demo for an NPR Colleague

Filed under: Mobcasting — Andy Carvin @ 10:34 am


Mobile post sent by acarvin using Utterz Replies.  mp3

October 6, 2006

Blogger, Odeo Get Out of the Mobcasting Business

Filed under: Mobcasting — Andy Carvin @ 4:23 pm

Yesterday I received an email from Audioblogger.com, the mobile phone podcasting service for Blogger/Blogspot blogs. Looks like they’re getting rid of the free service at the end of the month:

As of November 1, 2006, Audioblogger will no longer accept phone
calls. MP3s made with the service will continue to be hosted and
served but you will no longer be able to use Audioblogger to post
new audio.
Audioblogger is an independent product, run by Odeo, Inc., a small
startup company in San Francisco, CA. We are not affiliated with
Google or Blogger except that we operate and provide the
Audioblogger service.
Given our limited resources, we have to make tough decisions
about what projects to focus on. And we’ve come to the difficult
decision that Audioblogger demands too many resources, time, and
money for us to continue its operation.
However, there are several other services that offer similar
functionality. Odeo is not affiliated with any of these services,
we only suggest them only in hopes that one or the other will be
a good alternative for you.
Gabcast.com is a free service for recording by phone
Hipcast.com has a seven day free trial and lots of features
Gcast.com is another free service for phone recording
All of the phone posting services listed above are compatible
with Odeo in that they produce podcast feeds, which can be
imported to Odeo. Any audio file at Odeo can be posted on a blog
by copying and pasting some embed code.

With Audioblogger giving up the ghost, this will be the second free mobcasting tool shuttering its doors within the last year. Some of you may remember my previous posts about Audlink.com, which also provided a free mobcasting service. They shut down without any warning earlier this year. While there’s no reason to suspect that tools like Gabcast or Hipcast will vanish any time soon, the trend doesn’t bode well, and reinforces my long-held argument that we need to have an open source mobcasting tool that can be installed easily on a local phone number, without concerns that the company hosting it will disappear unexpectedly. Meanwhile, services like Melodeo.com are making it possible for people to hear podcasts over their mobile phone, you need to subscribe to an Internet data plan for it to work. The beauty of tools like Audlink and Audioblogger is that they worked with regular phones – no Internet access required. And for communities with limited Internet access and poor mobile Internet infrastructure, mobcasting could prove to be an excellent way to allow the public to participate in podcasting – both listening and recording – without worrying about their lack of Internet access. -andy

August 7, 2006

What’s the Ideal Toolset for Citizen Journalism?

Filed under: Citizen Journalism,Mobcasting,Podcasts — Andy Carvin @ 1:42 pm

At Dan Gillmor’s citizen media unconference here at Harvard, Hong Kong University professor Andrew Lih led a discussion about the ideal toolset for fostering, editing and distributing citizen journalism. I recorded a podcast of the session; it’s just under an hour and 45 megabytes. Sorry about the static during the first 10 seconds – I promise it gets better…. -andy

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