Over the weekend as fires burnt in Gosport, Hampshire, and on the New Kent Road in London, two users of new audio service Audioboo uploaded news updates to the site.

Complete with pictures, tags and geolocation data, the recordings or 'boos' posted to the individuals' accounts show how the service could be adopted for breaking and local news, Mark Rock, Audioboo and Best Before Media CEO, tells

"Someone told me that Audioboo is a user-generated content version of Radio 4 - it is those bits you'd otherwise miss. It's not stuff that you'd necessarily search for, but it's stuff that's definitely good to experience," says Rock, who helped launch the free Audioboo iPhone application in the iTunes store on March 13, as part of a team of six developers and one commercial rep

"Our thinking was that the spoken word is a bit underdiscovered on the web beyond music. So, we thought, let's do a social audio thing," Rock explains.

"People are beginning to use it for one of the prime reasons we did it: everyone knows what's happening to traditional media and local newspapers are dying by the moment. But is there a very simple and easy way [for others] to start collecting audio data and using it?"

BBC Bristol and BBC Worldwide are considering using the app, which is attracting more than 1,000 hits in the iTunes store daily, according to Rock, for children's programming and to collate audio from different international offices respectively.

Elsewhere Scottish Football League site Pie & Bovril has trialled the service for crowdsourced match commentary as part of a beta project.

"Podcasting is or was dead, because it was too difficult. This is one-click, so the cost of production is zero and it doesn't matter how many people list to it, because those people will have got something out of it," says Rock.

"The great thing about audio is how emotive it is. If you have got a piece of badly shot video, it will always be a piece of badly shot video."

Audioboo's API will eventually be released to allow third-party organisations to 'slice and dice' the service in different ways and develop the service for new mobile devices beyond the iPhone range.

Search features on the Audioboo site are currently being developed, which would allow users to pull together 'boos' by tags or area.

Creating an audiomap of locations or buildings, for example, could be used by news organisations for restaurant reviews and interactive features, suggests Rock.

While the Audioboo team will develop some apps for the service if additional funding is found, Rock hopes third-party news organisations and individual users will adapt the technology in as yet unthought of ways.

A 'freemium model' for the service - limited free use and premium packages for longer 'boos' and more images, for example – will be introduced, he adds.

"Even for those institutions that have got massive infrastructures it suggests different uses. The mind begins to boggle at what can be done in a very established medium, but one that hasn't undergone radical technology change since the Walkman," says Rock.

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