Mobile Voices: The Vozmob Project

François Bar is Associate Professor of Communication in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.  He presented Thursday 25 Mobile Voices: The Vozmob Project at the IN3.

Mobile Voices is an academic-community partnership between the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California ( and the Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA – to research and design a platform for low-wage immigrants in Los Angeles to publish stories about their lives and their communities directly from their mobile phones.

This project is mainly focussed on giving voice to immigrants living in Los Angeles through storytelling. This storytelling is achieved by using MMS and voice files recorded with mobile phones.

The transversal goal of the project is try to balance the negative stereotype of the immigrant given usually by mainstream media by creating their stories and publish them directly to the platform. The authors record a voice file or take a picture, and send it as MMS that are directly posted into a platform blog The posts can be edited by the author or other users afterwards. The Vozmob Project is a user-driven innovative project which means that designers work very close with users.

Studies carried out on the use that immigrants give to mobile phones show that:

  • 50% receive sms
  • 47% take pictures
  • 31% send sms
  • 20% take videos
  • 16% send pictures
  • 7% send videos

Studies also show that mobile phones are very important tools because is the way that immigrants are connected to work. The technology appropriation is also an important goal achieved by the project, since the users discover different uses that can give to mobile phones, not only making phone calls, and use them or even readapt them for their own purposes. The Vozmob uses an open code system called Drupal for the blog and Gizmo (voice over IP). All the contents are under Creative Commons License.

The Vozmob Project is reusing the contents of the platform through different gateways like a Newsletter called Jornada XXII, the contents can be also broadcasted. Next steps are introducing instructional courses which will be taken through mobile phone, like sustainable gardening or health issues that can be helpful either to reach a higher degree of life quality and compete for better jobs.

The project is funded by Nokia Research Center and McArthur Foundation Digital Media & Learning among others.

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