ProjectOnHerOwn and Tech Behind it

I have been working on ProjectOnHerOwn since we got selected for Gender Bender 2019. Gender Bender is India’s first arts festival that focuses on fresh perspectives of Gender. Our work #ProjectOnHerOwn will be part of it.

#ProjectOnHerOwn is a multimedia exploration through the landscape of women’s experiences of self-discovery, self-reliance and self-assertion. It travels through familiar stories about women all of us know. It unravels our moments of silent rebellion and shows us that we are not alone in these. In a world where the non-conforming voice has to fight for space, it is time for the collective to make space for the stories of everyday fight.

As part of #ProjectOnHerOwn, We are setting up a telephone line where anyone can call and listen to a story. Also at the end leave their own story as a response. I think it is an interesting way to listen to a story. Telephone makes the experience personal and intimate. IVR gives us option to tell those stories in human voice and in the language they choose. More about stories in a different blog, this post is about the tech part.

Last time I setup an IVR line was more than half a decade back. Voice APIs were just getting started, it was not that easy. Things have gotten a lot easier now. With serverless functions I don’t even have to pay for a server unless they get used. Freedom of not managing a LAMP server is huge. Even the database is a service this time. Though I must say, I use my own CouchDB as database. As far as this application is considered database is just a RESTful API.

Lambda is written in Python, it responds to KooKoo API’s stateful calls. CouchDB is used for saving the state of the call and user language preferences. I use CouchDBs RESTFul APIs. The public media files are stored on AWS S3 in a public bucket. So KooKoo servers them from S3 bucket. I will open source the code once it reaches a stable state with comments, so it can be reused for any similar audio projects.

Tech Arch diagram of ProjectOnHerOwn.

We also have an HTML widget to embed in a web page to show the number of stories heard. This is like web 1.0 page counter sticker we are all nostalgic about. Here again Lambda talks to CouchDB and get the count of sessions. Usually one session = one call = one story heard.

In all my testing it sounds good. It sounds like your friend is telling you a story. I am happy about the quality of the sound. At this point we have enough ports to accommodate quite a few users in parallel. We will have to see how it goes once we go public. But the developers at KooKoo have been very friendly and responsive. So I am guessing all is going to go well. Now I’m waiting for Aug 1, to invite you all to try it out. Until then see follow the updates on our instagram page.

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