Melbourne based Chinswing, an audio bulletin board, quietly launched with minimal angel funding a couple of weeks ago. The concept is pretty straight forward. Members kick-start a discussion thread by leaving an audio rant under the appropriate category channel (health, computer, etc.) with a relevant title and tags.
The discussion thread is a series of boxes, filled by users recorded comments in the order they are recorded. Each comment box also has space for a few lines of text describing the comment. Developments in each subject channel and individual discussion can easily be followed via RSS, watchlist, and podcast. Threads can be played all the way through linearly or you can start playing further down the thread. This makes for a very simple way to consume the audio, but the linear format robs the system of the meandering sub-threads that sometimes spiral off comments.
In order to post your own comments, you have to download and install a small .msi (Microsoft Installer) file with the recording software included. Considering the the simple play/pause/record features of the client, I would have much rather had the recording program run embedded in flash, like the karaoke service Singshot, or audio mixing site Jamglue.
There have been a couple other stabs at services like this before: the now defunct Audioblogger, Wildvoice, Snapvine, and Evoca. Unlike Chinswing and Wildvoice, Snapvine and Evoca are not destinations for conversations, but instead syndicate their technology as a blog plugin (Evoca) or flash embed (Snapvine). Evoca allows comments to be recorded off your computer or phone, while Snapvine relies on users dialing in by phone.
Being a destination and allowing for only one mode of commenting (audio) may serve to stymie Chinswing’s potential growth. Without the potentially viral capability of their own widget, Chinswing has to build a community around their site from scratch. Their support for only audio comments also leaves out any text commenters that want to pitch in their two cents to the discussion. Video sites like Youtube or audio site like Odeo have gained a lot of user interaction by supporting text replies.