My “This Year I Learned” Lesson

2014 is the year audio has proven it can go viral

The Washington Post’s project called This Year I Learned asks readers to submit a voicemail reflection of a lesson they’ve learned in 2014. The Post publishes the audio clip on SoundCloud and Tumblr. After reading and listening to amazing stories about struggle, fear and joy, I wanted to send my own.

This Year I Learned combines social media with the “old,” often thought of as outdated, media of voicemail. The Post put out several social calls asking readers to call 314-643-6152 and leave their lesson. And they’re receiving a lot of responses! They’ve already published over 40 posts on Tumblr and over 30 audio clips on SoundCloud. And people are listening, liking and sharing this audio. One voicemail has been played almost 350 times as of this blog post.

It’s interesting that a newspaper created this project. This is a very audio-driven project, and further proof that audio has the potential to — and is — going viral. The paper also publishes an image quote with each voicemail lesson, which helps readers quickly synthesize the audio. The brutally honest nature of these lessons, and the fact that voicemails are typically short, may be helping this project take off.

Before This Year I Learned, the last upload to The Post’s SoundCloud account was a month ago. And before then, it was mostly active six months and a year ago.  Now The Post has been sharing audio every few hours and days.

I’m interested to see what else The Post and other media will create with audio. Media other than radio have the potential to do really amazing things with audio — like this project shows.

You can share your own lesson by calling 314-643-6152.

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Marlena Chertock

Marlena is a digital storyteller and poetry editor at District Lit. Her first poetry book, On that one-way trip to Mars, is available from Bottlecap Press.

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