A few years ago I cooked up a little audio art project called OK To Tell. Basically, it was a semi-automated 1-800 number that people could call to confess a wrong-doing, lament about dashed dreams, or just spill out some freeform bitchin'-n-moanin'.
Inspired by a similar project from the early '80's called 'The Apology Line', my hope was that I'd gather a boatload of good 'content' for my own audio mash-ups and mixing. (I was really into 'found audio' at the time). After a chat with my brother, it seemed clear that this could also be an interesting way to acquire a lot of fresh stories that we could monetize on a separate site. Picture a custom player, tag clouds, trending favorites, etc… FuckMyLife for audio... or something with a smattering of ads. Konfessor!
I designed and printed a thousand compelling flyers and had them hung all over the Bay Area. And my brother and I ran a couple short-burst Google AdWord campaigns to see what would happen. The first call that came through (mere minutes after starting the AdWords campaign) was a young, despondent voice of a pre-teen girl sighing "I've been stupid since the day I was born."
Eeesh. This might get rough.*
We kicked it around some more but weren't able to commit to it to the degree necessary to make it viable - or if we even decide if wanted it to be 'viable' from a business perspectve. Short on time, short on cash. But I've left the 800# running just in case, McElligot's Pool style. And while there are no flyers or ads running, I still get the occasional call. Usually it's a fax machine and sometimes a robo-call of some sort. I listen to them all just in case.
A got a couple new calls a few days ago. Seems I was confused with some other famous guy - wrong number. But I still managed to get some wisdom from the distant, disembodied voice from Somewhere Out There.
*My brother and I spoke at length about the moral and legal issues that we would probably encounter and decided to shut the project down at first whiff of 'badness' and always do the right thing.