Two recent alumni stay ahead of the curve on location-based social apps.

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The Places Around Us — Like We’ve Never Heard Before

March 22, 2012

They have an app for where you’re at — a smartphone application that packages storytelling, history and technology by pinning stories to physical locations on a map, from Australia to New Orleans and everywhere in between.

Their creation, Broadcastr, collects audio and video clips from various sources, allowing users to experience site-specific stories about the area around them. The app celebrated its one-year anniversary earlier this month.

“Brodcastr is a discovery tool,” says Scott Lindenbaum, who founded the successful application with his colleague, Andy Hunter. “The idea behind it is to get a deeper connection to the place.”

Broadcastr already features more than 15,000 audio recordings and 2,000 videos. They come from more than 30 organizations and studio archives as well as from anyone who is interested in sharing his or her experience in a certain place or giving an oral review of a favorite restaurant.

“It’s an in-depth, explanatory experience of places,” Lindenbaum says. “Broadcastr connects you more deeply with the world around you. It’s a living archive of a universal story.”

PC World, reporting from the 2012 South by Southwest Festival, says that location-based applications are powering a new wave of technology startups. Lindenbaum and Hunter are ahead of the curve. They have already established partnerships with prominent organizations such as the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the History Channel, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Simon & Schuster, UNICEF and Audible.com.

Broadcastr detects a user’s location and presents various stories from which to choose. While walking close to Ground Zero, for example, one might hear stories told by first responders or New Yorkers who lost a family member that day; or, just a little farther uptown, a user can listen to actor Matthew Broderick describing Bryant Park. The clips are much like audio-tours on a smartphone, and they aren’t limited to a particular city or country. “Everywhere Google maps, we are there,” says Lindenbaum.

Lindenbaum and Hunter met at Brooklyn College while pursuing master of fine arts degrees in creative writing, which they earned in 2008. They were both tech enthusiasts with pop-culture backgrounds who loved to write.

Their first collaboration was a literary magazine, Electric Literature, which is accessible through iPhone. The publication uses new media and innovative distribution channels to return the short story to a place of prominence in popular culture.

Based on the magazine’s success, the duo began to work on the Broadcastr concept, a more technologically advanced project. In the beginning the interface was limited to a website featuring a map filled with pins. It has since evolved into a smartphone application, which is now available for both iPhone and Android.

From their office in DUMBO, Lindenbaum and Hunter often reach out to Brooklyn College with internship opportunities available to students. “Brooklyn College is important to us,” Lindenbaum states. “Without it I would never have met my co-founder.”

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