Audio Blogs: Online Diarists Sound Off

Web Journals Now Feature Voices, Other Sounds

Dave Elfving publishes The Greasy Skillet, a blog with audio. Dave Elfving hide caption

The Greasy Skillet
itoggle caption Dave Elfving

Audio Blog Entries (MP3 files)

Hear full entries of samples heard in Ari Shapiro's report

From Audblog

audio icon "The bottomless wine glass..."

audio icon "I am in love with Luke Wilson..."



Hear samples from Audible Frequency

audio icon "The grocery store"

audio icon "The dog park"

Alicia Frantz's Audible Frequency audio blog features sounds heard around Chicago. Jes Davis hide caption

Audible Frequency
itoggle caption Jes Davis

In the 18th century, people recorded the mundane details of life in diaries. Today, bloggers — or Web loggers — share their most intimate thoughts and opinions with the entire world on the Internet. The online journals, known as "blogs," are increasingly popular. And while they've been dominated by text and photos, they're now also going in a new direction, using audio as well.

NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on "audio blogs" — online audio diaries that can make anyone's life a serial drama. New technology allows them to be updated via a simple phone call.

Here's a typical audio blog entry: "...and then I remembered the bottomless wine glass last night. Every time I took a sip, the busboy came and filled it up. And then I recalled the platform shoes. And I said, 'ohhhh....'"

Text blogs have around since the mid-1990s, but audio is just entering the mainstream. Dave Elfving runs a site called The Greasy Skillet, which uses both text and audio. He prefers to call his site an "online journal," saying blog "sounds like some sort of unfortunate medical condition."

Elfving says audio blogging appeals to a universal desire to make one's voice heard. "There's only so many people who can write in major newspapers, there's only so many people who can be on the radio, but with very little or no money you can be on the Internet."

But, as Shapiro reports, that's not always a good thing. "Type in 'blog' on your Internet search engine, and you may find journals about cats. Or hear one audio blogger say: "I am in love with Luke Wilson. I am absolutely, phenomenally captivated by him."

But there are also blogs with solid information and interesting perspectives: pundits covering the political spectrum, and discussions of every hobby imaginable. Elfving says it's worth sifting through the frivolous sites to find the jewels.

And whereas books and magazines have a publisher's seal of approval, anyone with Internet access can write a blog. So you can find viewpoints outside of the mainstream. Laura Moorehead, senior editor of the magazine Wired, says finding a good blog is just the beginning.

"If you find a blog that you really like, chances are somewhere on that page are going to be related bloggers that are being recommended, and from there you can kind of branch out and investigate some others."

Moorehead predicts that once the novelty of audio blogging subsides, it will become just another tool in a blogger's repertoire.

Since audio blogs are relatively new, they don't yet cover the range of their written equivalents. But some people are already using audio in creative ways. A site called The Quiet American provides audio travelogues submitted by people around in a feature called "one-minute vacations."

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