Two weeks ago Freedom Fone, affectionately known to his handlers as Fred, was set loose…
Inspired by the cockney rhyming slang “dog and bone” (meaning phone), the Freedom Fone dog logo and quirky character of Fred, was born a few years ago. Today Fred is still young, but after a few years of software development (and dog training!) he’s now ready to go out into the world on his own.
We wanted to report back on his recent adventures, since the launch of Freedom Fone version 1.5.
Various individuals scattered across the globe have been downloading, installing and testing Fred’s performance and his repertoire of tricks, to see whether he would be a useful addition to their existing communication strategies. For instance, one NGO has been exploring the possibility of using Freedom Fone to support original music by indigenous musicians from the Northern Territory of Australia, and another to communicate with multicultural communities involved in community arts. A British based organisation is considering using Fred to provide information and support for school kids and parents from disadvantaged communities.
Meanwhile, an individual in the States has been investigating whether Freedom Fone can be used for social networking with his friends. The prospect of using Freedom Fone as a “voicebook” platform to offer up some voxpop audio ear candy is a cool one!
We hope that all users of our free open source software have a good experience and if you give Fred a try, we ask that you please let us know how well he fetches the stick that you personally throw him!
Although Fred has new admirers, he also remains loyal to his long standing friends. In particular, he’s formed a very close bond with the Farm Radio International (FRI) crew, who have been consistently good to him, right from when he was a pup. FRI have been using Freedom Fone for over a year, at Radio Maria in Tanzania and for other projects in Ghana. In Tanzania they are running the Kuku Hotline, which provides information for rural farmers on chicken production. Image of DJ Lilian Manyuka in action includes her interviewing the rural extension officer about his role in providing local farmers with information in Tanzania.
Another loyal companion of Fred is The Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe. Not only have Kubatana had a hand in breeding and raising Fred, they have also been there to take Fred for lots of walks around the block. So far they are very happy with the way version 1.5 behaves, barks, wags and runs.
As Zimbabwe drafts a new constitution, Kubatana is using Freedom Fone for a constitutional question and answer service – in English, Shona and Ndebele – collaborating with Constitutional Affairs Minister, Advocate Eric T. Matinenga. Kubatana’s mobile lines have being receiving questions on the Constitution from the public, for Matinenga to answer. His responses to the public’s questions will be recorded and the audio clips shared using Freedom Fone. In this instance, Fred is proving to be a powerful tool for citizens to question, debate and understand the constitution.
Kubatana have also recently used Freedom Fone for lighter relief during HIFA: Harare International Festival of the Arts, held between the 27 April and the 2 May 2010. The hotline featured renowned and comical HIFA master of ceremonies, Gavin Peters, giving the public the inside scoop on what was hot and happening during the festivals week-long activities.
Stay tuned for more on Fred experiences!