Much has been written about how we are killing our communication skills because of technology. E-mail, text messaging and social media have made communicating quick and simple, but body language experts will argue that the subtlety and complexity of our message is lost when the recipient can’t see our facial expressions or hear the inflection in our voice. While some of us may disagree about wether text makes a message less effective, there are many people who feel that text is cold and lifeless. In some instances, text is the optimal form of communication; isn’t the book always better than the movie? But what about when it comes to building relationships? Live-streaming apps like Periscope are already popular with those looking to foster deep relationships with others online. For those who aren’t camera-ready, or just seeking to expand their reach to a new platform, enter Anchor.
Anchor bills itself as “radio for the people.” Anchor is a free app currently available for the iPhone, which is a little bit podcasting and a little bit twitter. Users can engage in conversation by recording audio “waves” up to two minutes in length, and other users can record a response up to one-minute. According to TechCrunch, National Public Radio affiliate WNYC and Radiolab are both signing on as users of the app.
Anchor co-founder Nir Zicherman told TechCrunch, “As popular as this medium is we feel it’s really hard for regular people to contribute to it,” Zicherman says of radio technology. “Unlike photos and videos and writing, recording and publishing your voice has not been democratized [and] radio and podcasts aren’t interactive. You can listen to Grantland on the air, or NPR, but you can’t talk back to NPR.”
I’ve only used Anchor for one week, but in that short time I’ve seen that users have their own various reasons for interest in the app. Some users are looking to further their brand message to a new platform, some are looking to reach out to new people in the community just to discuss arbitrary topics. Hashtags like #NeedToTalk encourage discourse between users looking for others to communicate with and #OpenQuestion encourage users to chime in with their answers.
The way Anchor is currently being used, the platform has an intimate feel, naturally because users are sharing a piece of their mind as opposed to memes or news articles. I have heard waves from users who said that they feel the platform is inspirational and that they feel much more connected to users on Anchor than other platforms. Quoting another user, “the marketers haven’t ruined anchor yet” and thats whats great about it. Anchor is fostering a strong and connected community where people really feel heard, because they actually are.