A new journalism: audio on iPhone

You might have heard of CinchCast. It’s a new app/service that runs on mobile phones. I use the iPhone version. I record audio using it, which posts right after the interview. I can also call a phone number and record an interview that way. The quality is great. I don’t use anything other than my iPhone. The photo above is of me interviewing AirBnB’s mobile developer, Andrew Vilcsak, at the GDGT party last night. You can listen to that interview here.

But I’ve done 168 different CinchCasts already after using it for a few months (you can even follow the feed there, and see when I post new ones, which I do every day or so).

Here’s a taste:

Meeting Bre Pettis, founder of MakerBot, and Alexa Andrzejewski, founder of Foodspotting at the GDGT party.

An audio tour of the virtual meeting robots at Anybot’s headquarters. These robots let you attend meetings without being there. I could get one for Rackspace’s headquarters, for instance (that’s in Texas, I live in California) and then I could attend meetings “virtually.”

My first ride in an “Uber” limo. This service uses an iPhone app to call a driver to you (only works in San Francisco so far, but other cities coming soon). Works really great and the limo driver I interviewed loves it too.

When I visited the Apple store in San Francisco this week a group of people were playing a violin concert on their iPads. I walked up, started interviewing the leader, who turned out to be Jeff Smith, CEO of Smule. The app they were playing, Magic Fiddle, is the #1 music app in iTunes store right now.

I interviewed the CEO of BraveNewTalent.com, this week, but afterward I learned he is a great philanthropist, too, and was named to the very exclusive “Young Global Leader” club at the World Economic Forum. So, over wine and cigars we talk about what he’s seeing in the world. Quite a remarkable guy.

You might have heard all the hype about location-based services. Foursquare. Whrrl. Gowalla. Loopt. Well, here I sit down with Loopt’s founder, Sam Altman, to get the Silicon Valley perspective on what’s going on.

Last week Microsoft’s Kinect came out and the top tech journalist in the world is Walt Mossberg, who is the tech expert for the Wall Street Journal. When I met him at a Dow Jones tech conference I wanted to know what he thought of Kinect. His opinion matched mine, that it’s a game changer. But don’t take my word for it, listen to what he says about it.

Silicon Valley is in the middle of a talent war. You’ve read about that. Google, just this week Techcrunch reported, paid an engineer $3.5 million to stay at Google and not go to Facebook. Why do they have to do that? Well, Olivia Fox studies the psychology of geeks and smart people (she works with teams and execs) and she gives some ways that companies can win the talent war and why people choose to go to certain companies, like Facebook, and not others.

I’ve interviewed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a couple of times on Cinch. The latest was when Facebook announced its new mobile platform a couple of weeks ago. In that interview Mark was very candid and gave you some sense of the social thinking he’s doing that no one else in the valley is doing. The other time was when Facebook announced its new groups feature. Mark was in Palo Alto, I was in a hallway in a hotel in Texas calling in, which shows the power of CinchCast to do remote interviews.

While hanging out at Facebook a couple weeks ago I met Groupon Vice President Mihir Shah and asked him why Facebook isn’t disrupting Groupon.

Zagat makes the top travel guides in the world and now they are making a really great set of mobile apps to help you find restaurants. Here is an interview where I visit Nina Zagat in her New York office.

Paper.li makes virtual newspapers out of your Twitter accounts, or Twitter lists. I’ve noticed a lot of people have been using them lately so when I had a chance to have lunch with Edouard Lambelet, CEO of Paper.li, of course I pulled out my iPhone and interviewed him about what he’s seeing in the real-time web.

Finally, I recorded my own CinchCast about why CinchCast is becoming an important journalism weapon, so you can hear more about my thoughts of this tool in my own voice.

Why do audio instead of video? I’ve found a few reasons.

1. Audio is easier to upload and distribute. I can record remotely without expensive equipment or a good internet connection (the Mark Zuckerberg interview about Facebook Groups, for instance, was done doing nothing other than a phone call). Even if I need to upload, though, it’s faster to upload audio than video, which means I can use CinchCast to do breaking news, while video would slow me down.
2. Sometimes you are in a place that video just isn’t appropriate in, or is hard to do. Often I’m in restaurants, for instance, which are often too dark to get good quality video.
3. Many times talking heads just don’t need video. I love talk radio, but I don’t need to see KGO Radio host Ronn Owens. His voice is just fine. Same here.
4. iPhones aren’t really great for video. Yeah, I’ve done it and it’s fine in a pinch, but it’s very hard to hold steady and it’s a bit blurry compared to the videos I do with my Canon 5D MK II.

Anyway, I’m having fun playing with audio. Hope you’re having fun listening. What do you think?

Oh, did you see you can leave your own audio comments underneath any of my CinchCasts? I listen to every one of those and enjoy hearing your voices come back, too. It’s like a new kind of talk radio.

Update: MarkSpoff asked me why I use CinchCast over AudioBoo, another nice audio product. My answer? For a couple of reasons. 1. AudioBoo limits the length of audio recordings, CinchCast doesn’t. 2. AudioBoo doesn’t let you call into the service, which means I couldn’t have used it for that second Mark Zuckerberg recording. 3. I started on CinchCast long before I heard about AudioBoo and I’m not willing to switch to a service with limitations. By the way, CinchCast works on iPad. You just need to figure out how to get to the MP3 file and listen to that.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

47 thoughts on “A new journalism: audio on iPhone

  1. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  2. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  3. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  4. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  5. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  6. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  7. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  8. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  9. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  10. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  11. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  12. Awesome, Robert. I’m a big believer in all types of content because many people have different learning/consuming styles.

    Some prefer audio.
    Some prefer video.
    Some prefer text.
    Some prefer one depending on the context and others depending the context.

    I think the larger trend here is just how easy it is becoming by the day to capture great stuff. Be it video or audio…even five years ago it was like a herd of turtles to do any of this.

  13. I just love video as it combines both audio and video, often I like just having the video and mostly listen, but whenever I feel the need to look at the speaker I can. I really prefer video but thats me. For examlpe I watch ever Gillmor Gang gang and that could definately be audio. Yes its great when it goes back and forth between you guys but if I were to listen to it, it would be the exact same but again for me, I love the fact that its in video, I can have it very small on my massive screen and just see and learn from the people better. I would totally prefer you doing your cinches with video as well. I iPhone4 camera is better than nothing, really it is, I mean I think you even recorded Evan Williams big twitter announcement on your webcam and that was fine. I really feel juts audio looses something. I am sure you could have both, put the video on your youtube channel, have the audio still for cinch.

    1. Sorry, there are many times when video is not allowed, isn’t appropriate, or isn’t gonna be good due to lighting conditions. The Zuckerberg interview, for instance, could NOT have been done with video. Most of the others, too, I find are just more casual with audio. People get a little stiffer when you turn on a video camera.

  14. Re Phone Boo I sought clarification from @MarkRock – They recently switched server architecture and PhoneBoo broke. They are fixing it.By the way – I forgot to mention, PROBoo users get ability to submit their boo’s to a moderated cue, with a neat control panel. Would be very cool to encourage wide debate/discussion on a subject raised by you Robert. In particular, it’s awesome for Journalist publications who have many contributors and want to publish at a specific time. Pro users can also tag ANY boo – a Curated.by for audio – create a stream based on the tag, then off you go. Add what you like to it!Appreciate what your saying about standard Boo user timelimit – but it’s just one limitation – the wealth of Journalist specific power features is hugely impressive and is why I’m confused by your focus on one limitation (5mins for normal users) – since if you’re readers include Journalists, and they do, surely you’d want to present them with such an awesome product. Cinch has many more limitations – just depends what people’s priorities are. Surely you don’t dismiss products simply because they seek to monetise a PRO version?

    1. Twitter intrigued me because of the limitations, but not when it comes to audio. When I’m sitting down with a world leader I don’t want to have to think “I only have 50 seconds left.”

      1. I do think you make a fair point. I know audioBoo thought long and hard about time limits and chose 5 as a digestible size for average Joe.

        I was keen for you to know all the positive aspect and I’ve had my chance to put them to you; which I am grateful for.

        A great article in any case and keep on audio-casting. I thoroughly enjoy them.

        Cheers,
        Mark

  15. I love the easy cinch features including the direct telephone number you can call in from via cell regardless of their mobile apps.

    Also, the audio replies on a cinch are nice touch.

  16. Like Mark has said above, it’s great to hear more and more people getting excited about and finding value in audio.

    I do think though, anyone seriously considering audio for documenting, journalism or one touch podcasting seriously needs to look at Audioboo first. I am really surprised Robert did not explore all the app options for what I find to be the definitive Audio recording tool.

    I have used it for recording all kinds of moments. From interviews with our Prime Minister to the first sound made by my newborn son.

    My app has no limit yet i feel shorter audio clips way more valuable and digestible than long rambling ones. I also find the queued uploads really handy for grabbing multiple interviews on the go.

    And as far as stability and quality. I have never lost a recording.. and know none other than the BBC are more than happy with the quality of audio.

    I am as passionate as anyone about Audioboo because many of the most amazing connections and discoveries I have made over the last couple of years have come about through using the service

    1. I like Audioboo but it has some severe limitations for journalism. First, it has time limits. They offered to make my limits longer, but I won’t suggest tools to my readers that have time limits. My Zuckerberg interview, for instance, is 35 minutes. Audioboo limits to 30 minutes for pro users. Second, they don’t have the ability to call into the service to record a phone call. That’s a HUGE difference and one I use often (my first interview with Zuckerberg was done via phone). Audioboo doesn’t let you do that. Audioboo, on the other hand, has a nicer UI and is probably better for SEO thanks to tagging. It also has community features that are very strong, as you mentioned.

  17. Hey! I enjoyed this article and it s so funny i’m actually working on a project right now in my journalism class. Its about making Audio Journalism more visible. I know that sometimes video helps an audience visualize and grasp ideas, but does anyone have any thoughts on what the power of audio journalism can do today?

  18. Hey! I enjoyed this article and it s so funny i’m actually working on a project right now in my journalism class. Its about making Audio Journalism more visible. I know that sometimes video helps an audience visualize and grasp ideas, but does anyone have any thoughts on what the power of audio journalism can do today?

  19. Hey! I enjoyed this article and it s so funny i’m actually working on a project right now in my journalism class. Its about making Audio Journalism more visible. I know that sometimes video helps an audience visualize and grasp ideas, but does anyone have any thoughts on what the power of audio journalism can do today?

  20. Hey! I enjoyed this article and it s so funny i’m actually working on a project right now in my journalism class. Its about making Audio Journalism more visible. I know that sometimes video helps an audience visualize and grasp ideas, but does anyone have any thoughts on what the power of audio journalism can do today?

  21. Hey! I enjoyed this article and it s so funny i’m actually working on a project right now in my journalism class. Its about making Audio Journalism more visible. I know that sometimes video helps an audience visualize and grasp ideas, but does anyone have any thoughts on what the power of audio journalism can do today?

  22. Hey! I enjoyed this article and it s so funny i’m actually working on a project right now in my journalism class. Its about making Audio Journalism more visible. I know that sometimes video helps an audience visualize and grasp ideas, but does anyone have any thoughts on what the power of audio journalism can do today?

  23. Hey! I enjoyed this article and it s so funny i’m actually working on a project right now in my journalism class. Its about making Audio Journalism more visible. I know that sometimes video helps an audience visualize and grasp ideas, but does anyone have any thoughts on what the power of audio journalism can do today?

  24. Superb article. Very pleased you are enjoying audio as much as I do.

    It’s really great to hear you using Audio to report. I seldom miss your Cinch Casts and always enjoy them. I find audio much more compelling than Video generally, and Journalism is no exception. There’s also the convenience factor – both for the recorder and for the listener. I am able to keep up with your interviews without having to make time to sit down and view a video. With regards to Phone Cinch/Boo, I’d always prefer to listen to a quality audio recording than an answering machine bit depth one. AudioBoo does allow PhoneBoo’s too by the way, but it’s not advertised well.

    As I said on Twitter though, I’m a big fan of audioBoo and can’t seem to listen to Cinch on my iPad. You’ve advised me I can – so I guess i’m being dumb (it’s not unheard of ;)). I’ll have to work it out. This, in fact, is my main reason for wishing you’d use audioBoo. I don’t want to have to download an app to hear a recording.

    Some of the key things I like about audioBoo over Cinch.
    - The interface. Much more refined. The single Boo player embeds stylishly on any web page.
    - Streams – it’s possible to set up a stream for any subject and have anyone contribute to it.
    - Queued uploads. I can record up to 30 minutes at a time, as many times as I like. I don’t have to wait for them to upload – they Queue once I press publish and I can immediately record another…and another… This is very handy when I want to make multiple recordings but have no signal.
    - Embeddable Multi-Boo player. audioBoo provides this feature as a PRO add on. It contains all my audioBoo in a neat player that I can post anywhere. I can even limit the audio that shows up in the player by Tag.
    - Easy to grab mp3 file – just change the Boo URL to .mp3 and there it is. (I know cinch allows this too – just wanted to include it to point out that it’s there on audioBoo).
    - Geo tagged audio (Cinch may provide this, I can’t recall) allows me to search the globe for interesting audio (I’m a hobbyist sound archivist/engineer and have used this feature to capture ambient sounds etc, located). The Boo Map helps nicely here.
    - Photo with each Boo. Neat addition (again, I may be mistaken and cinch may provide this)
    - Web Boo – I can upload audio recorded in my studio direct to audioBoo.
    - Direct Messages – I enjoy sending these to friends. High quality and intimate communication.

    Now, I should add that I believe ‘standard’ audioBoo has a 5 minute time limit on each recording. Whilst I can see this is a big problem for journalists, for average Joe, the restriction tends to enhance audioBoo as a platform. It encourages people to get to the point and means I can listen to many different Boo’s without losing a whole night – it encourages me to listen to more than just the people with Journalistic content – 5 minutes of ‘the sound of a family in an everyday situation’ never gets boring. more would.

    Finally, and this is pretty off topic but very relevant to my enthusiasm for audioBoo, I should point out at this point that i’m biased (stop reading now if you’re here for tech ;P). A couple of years ago, my 15 year career in a high stress job in the City of London led to a nervous breakdown. With it came agoraphobia, depression and anxiety related mental illness. I’m not ashamed of this – but was at the time. I was also angry with myself for being ashamed, so I decided to audio blog my daily diary. So I ditched my moleskin and grabbed my iPhone. I had no idea of the benefit this would give me at the time. I simply wanted to fight the shame and so I confronted it, by making public my daily thoughts and troubles – I hoped it would help me, and would encourage others to speak freely about challenging mental illness, removing the stigma – I was used to leading a team and being a rock solid career man, so my new fragility was a really tough thing to deal with. Gradually, by audioBoo’ing my way out of the house, or whenever I felt panic rising, or simply to log a moment, I found my recovery progressing nicely. I engaged with others who used the service, making firm friendships. I attended my first public event in 18 months, an audioBoo party. We’d all heard each other speak many times and it struck me that this new form of social media was a world apart from the scattered communications I’d encountered before. Even whilst running several gaming communities in the decade up to then. Compelling, engaging, moving, usually interesting and always accessible, it genuinely helped me a great deal. Now recovered, I retain a huge enthusiasm for it – and Audio as a platform that has many benefits. All power to any company that’s driving Audio to the forefront of Social Media. It’s about time!

    Sincere apologies for ‘going on’. It’s a subject i’m pretty obsessed with and once I start typing……..

    Best, Mark

    1. When I tried Audioboo they said they didn’t have a phone number that I could use. Would love to know more if they do offer that feature, but the length limitation is a HUGE limitation and is what is keeping me from suggesting its use to journalists, or my readers.

  25. totally agree. video is often unnecessary and less convenient for both consumer and producer.

    i have been doing voice recordings since last november when i got my droid. i prefer to use appps that record locally to phone with option to email the audio file…. which can be sent to any typical service from wordpress to posterous to facebook or to your own script/service. makes sense to me. i use recordoid currently. no limits. files stored on device. no 3rd party service required. excellent fidelity etc.

  26. We agree that that there is an important place for audio in the social and mobile web and you have highlighted many good reasons why that is the case. In fact, Apple this week seems to agree and has featured the Cinch app in the iTunes store. If anyone is interested in trying it out here is the link – http://bit.ly/Cinch-iPhone

    Lastly, following your cinch’s clearly demonstrates how hard you work to stay on the cutting edge of what is happening in SV. You energy level and contribution to the community should be admired.

    Alan
    CEO
    http://www.cinchcast.com

  27. We agree that that there is an important place for audio in the social and mobile web and you have highlighted many good reasons why that is the case. In fact, Apple this week seems to agree and has featured the Cinch app in the iTunes store. If anyone is interested in trying it out here is the link – http://bit.ly/Cinch-iPhone

    Lastly, following your cinch’s clearly demonstrates how hard you work to stay on the cutting edge of what is happening in SV. You energy level and contribution to the community should be admired.

    Alan
    CEO
    http://www.cinchcast.com

  28. We agree that that there is an important place for audio in the social and mobile web and you have highlighted many good reasons why that is the case. In fact, Apple this week seems to agree and has featured the Cinch app in the iTunes store. If anyone is interested in trying it out here is the link – http://bit.ly/Cinch-iPhone

    Lastly, following your cinch’s clearly demonstrates how hard you work to stay on the cutting edge of what is happening in SV. You energy level and contribution to the community should be admired.

    Alan
    CEO
    http://www.cinchcast.com

  29. Robert, *please* continue to make audio content (even if you shoot a video, you can make a cinch at the same time). I like to read/watch what you do, but god with all the other blogs/newspapers/TV shows/tweets/books (etc…), it takes a lot of time !

    With audio, I can listen your stuff at the grocery, at the gym, in the subway, in the street, etc… Just like I do with podcasts and audiobooks. It saves me a lot of time, and *this* is cool !

    Audio = productivity, thanks for doing that !

    1. Agreed. I just wish there was a way to add an audio recording that I see while browsing on my desktop to a queue I can later listen to on my mobile while I’m out.

      1. Alexis and Tiger. You gave me a great idea and reminded me of one of the great features of cinchcast. Everything has an RSS Feed. I’m doing a 10 hour drive tomorrow to Missouri and need some listening material. With cinchcast you can pull an RSS Feed from individual users or those you follow. Queuing up Robert Scoble as well as Marshall Kirkpatrick’s cinches for the road.

      2. if you download the Cinch iPhone app you can listen to Robert’s (or anyone else’s) cinchcasts on demand directly from the app.

    2. Don’t forget that it can be listened to in the car! I spend two hrs a day commuting and listening to podcasts.

  30. I really hate audio interviews, it’s almost like radio-era before tv. I’ve seen almost every your video interview, but heard just 2-3 CinchCasts.
    BTW, what do I see right now in my browser on this page? “Missing Plug-in” (it’s macbook air)

    1. Fair enough but sometimes I can’t record video. Facebook PR asked me not to record video of our conversations, for instance. Othertimes I’m someplace without my good video gear, or in someplace too dark. Othertimes it’s just not a topic that’s good for video. My ugly face at 9 a.m., for instance, is a lot better on audio than video.

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