Mobile-based audio forum

The RadioActive project, by Aaron Zinman and Judith Donath, aims at enabling a forum for asynchronous discussion using audio instead of text over mobile devices.

Participants engage in public discussion using both spatial and audio navigations. The system uses many of the familiar features of current discussions. Threaded discussions contain posts by individual authors categorized by arbitrary topics, have n replies to replies, a subject, and a body. The threads are archived, creating persistent dialogues.


Messages are represented graphically inside a topic space. A “radio” mode enables the platform to be similar to dynamic talk radio without requiring input.

Each post is represented by a geometric shape, using color and size to indicate message length, age, and read/unread status. Users may also chose to navigate the conversations using the directional buttons of their mobile devices.

With each post the user would hear the name of the author, the subject, and then the message body. Users can use the left or right buttons to speed playback, while up and down navigate across the thread hierarchy. After the message has been fully played, the user can reply before continuing to the next post. At the end of the thread, the user would hear a musical transition before automatically going into the next one.

RadioActive is a reaction to TiVO and podcasting which allow users to access their media in a personalized fashion but passively. RadioActive gives audiences a chance to talk back, contrasting the typical unidirectional model of broadcasting.