A social sharing app that won’t sell you out

A new iPhone app, Digisocial, lets your share your voice with your photos.

A new iPhone app, Digisocial, lets your share your voice with your photos.

Just-launched iPhone app Digisocial adds a new wrinkle to social photo sharing: audio.

Take Instagram’s photo sharing and social network, add Soundcloud’s audio streaming capabilities and you’ve got Digisocial, which made its international debut in the Apple App Store January 16.

It’s not quite video, but it’s more than photo. In fact, they even coined a term for what exactly it is you’ll be sharing when you download the app: voicephotos. With apps like Snapchat gaining popularity in the social photo sharing community and Facebook adding phone calls through its Messenger application, the heat is on.

So how does it work?

Digisocial allows you to snap or upload an image on your smartphone, then record some sound to pair with it. You could sign or laugh, cry or scream. So far, there seem to be a lot of cute kittens paired with both fake and real meowing.

Tap share, and you can blast your voicephoto into the socialverse via the usual Twitter and Facebook integration. And, to alleviate privacy concerns from the get-go, you can choose to share to the public, friends or only yourself.

“We wanted to provide an alternative, that from a technical and functional perspective was just as advanced, but they [users] don’t have to worry about being treated like a product,” said Marco Mereu, VP of Communications for Digisocial.

Do I own my content?

Mereu summarized the app’s concept succinctly: “It’s a digital, ad-free audio image sharing app,” he told me over the phone midway through a busy launch day.

Mereu explained that Digisocial wants to carve its own path in the social sharing world by never sharing user information, providing it to third parties or selling user content. “Your content belongs to you,” he confirmed. See for yourself: digisocial.com has links to the privacy policy and terms and conditions.

The focus on privacy comes at a time when users and the media are just getting over Instagram’s terms and conditions kerfuffle.

What about down the line? They’re going to have to make money somehow

The East Coast startup is self-funded, so monetization is not an immediate priority, according to Mereu.

Instead, they’re concentrating on the user experience. That means an emphasis on fun, simple and engaging ways to share and connect.

Down the road, Mereu said, they’re thinking about layering enhanced functionalities like more storage, ways to share, features, or games.

Whatever happens, Digisocial says it will remain free and honor your privacy at all costs.

Who will use it?

So far, there are more cats and scantily clad women than anything.

However, the audio does add a very personal addition to what people are already sharing online. Plus, you can post audio comments.

It’s easy to see creative uses for the app, many of which have yet to be dreamed up.

For starters, I could see models, who have already established significant followings on Instagram, using the audio as another way to interact with fans.

Photographers and photojournalists could tell the story behind their images.

News organizations like NPR could use Digisocial as another platform for sharing the news. The push to record audio feature could be used to capture natural sound, breaking news, or even a full-fledged radio report. There is no limit to the length of audio that can be recorded, but there is no ability to upload an existing audio track — at least, not yet.

Check out my first post here and give the app a whirl yourself.

Current TV adds Olbermann to shake things up

The tectonic plates of the American media landscape are starting to shift once again.

Two major events have given me a new spirit of hope in news media, both occurring this week. And both by Tuesday!

First off, Keith Olbermann, the former liberal host of MSNBC‘s “Countdown” announced that he will be starting a new show on Current TV, the fledgling entertainment and world affairs network founded by former Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt in 2005.

Olbermann told reporters on a conference call Tuesday morning that it will be an “amplified and stronger version of the show that I just did.”

But the even bigger news here is that Olbermann will become Current Media’s Chief News Officer and take an equity stake in the company. Meaning he will be up there with Joel, Al and CEO Mark Rosenthal as one of the hotshots.

Current’s own employees didn’t know a thing until the New York Times announced it.

At least that’s what Mariana Van Zeller, one of the investigative reporters in Current’s investigative documentary series “Vanguard“, told me today in an e-mail.

Keep an eye on this five-year-old channel, because despite setbacks and low ratings, (around 25,000 viewers during prime time) shows like Vanguard, infoMania and now Olbermann’s are worthy of your attention.

Full disclosure of course: I interned for Vanguard in 2009. Blogged about my experience here and also contributed to Current’s news blog here and here.

Read more about Current’s reinvention here from MediaBistro.

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NEXT UP: AOL + HuffPost = a reinvention of the news wheel?