Something, something, and communicate:
Founded in Austin in 2011, Zello allows individuals to communicate to one another walkie-talkie style via a simple broadband connection. The app interface looks a like button on your phone. You press it to speak to people on a particular channel. The channels can be as small as two people or as big as hundreds of thousands. The largest in Venezuela is about 450,000, but only 600 can be active on a channel at one time, Moore said. The feel of the app is similar to the now defunct Nextel push-to-talk service, which was shut down last summer. Zello is free for individuals but companies can purchase a plan to allow more users on a single channel for $10 a month.
Zello has been downloaded some 50 million times. In addition to playing a big role in the recent Ukraine protests, it was also extremely popular during last year’s unrest in Turkey.
Moore never imagined that what he was making could become a politically destabilizing force. He knew only that he wanted to make a social network around the idea of Internet-based radio. “The human voice carries so much more information than typing. We knew that was the basis of something great. If you listen to these channels you realize that it’s a way for people to make friends. The surprise was that that it exploded in Turkey almost a year ago to become the number one app in Turkey around the issues that they had, and then in Venezuela.”
Any nation with a halfway competent digital army can of course hijack such an app for disinformation and to even lead protesters into ambushes as apparently has been done in Venezuela. This story of a simple little app turned into a protest organizing tool by end users is still quite neat.