An Internet for the *other* 3 billion people


lets Anyone in the World

Share Information and Tell Stories

using Only a Telephone.

You don’t need a computer

You don’t need Internet access, and…

You don’t need to speak English.

  • Step 1: Call into a ShareTell access number.

    • We will have local telephone access numbers throughout the world

  • Step 2: Build your own Voice App.

    • We will guide you through the process and give you a unique 6-digit App Code

  • Step 3: Tell everyone about your voice app.

    • Give them our local access number and your individual app code

Now, anyone in the world can hear your information and leave you messages. Or, communities of people can share information with each other. All by voice.

ShareTell will be available in dozens of local languages.

Your voice app can be a single message that gets played to callers

OR, It can have a whole wealth of information available by pressing different buttons on a telephone

OR, It can let many people share information in a public forum.

Information can be in 2 forms: voice messages, or numbers.

You invent your own voice app, and you record the messages all in your own voice.

1.5 billion people on Earth have Internet acess But 4.5 billion people have cell phones! That leaves about 3 billion people who need ShareTell.

ShareTell will help transform the developing world.

Here are some possible uses for ShareTell:

  • A person with a home-based business could provide detailed information on their products, prices and availability, and take orders by voice mail

  • A health clinic could provide free information on sanitation & disease topics, or provide private test results using a code number they assigned to a patient

  • A storyteller could record stories for children, who could listen to them on their parents’ cellphone

  • A rural collective could provide information on where to buy commodities at the best possible prices

  • A community could create a bulletin-board using voice messages, just as we might use a Yahoo Group.

Once they have the technology in their hands, we are sure that people will dream up uses for this tool that we can’t even imagine yet.

How it works

ShareTell voice apps are built out of Voice Nodes. Voice nodes are arranged in a tree structure, with up to 10 branches per node (for the digits 0 through 9)

Each node can do one of 5 things:

  1. Play a menu of options

    • “Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that…”

    • This is a branching node; the other types are leaf nodes

  2. Play voice messages

    • Recorded over the telephone by the owner of the voice app in their own language

    • A single message or a pool of messages

    • Play a pool of messages in sequence or in a random order

    • Short pieces of information, or 2-hour lectures

    • Quickly skip an entire message, or hear it again from the beginning.

    • Fast-forward and rewind in 1% or 10% increments.

  3. Play a number

    • As digits or as a number (“Four-Seven versus “Fourty-Seven”)

    • Can have a message before and after it if needed

      • “The price is” “fourty-seven” “dollars”

  4. Record a message

    • Ask the caller to leave a message

      • “Please record your message after the tone.”

    • The voice app owner can review these messages and delete them, OR They can transfer some of them to a message pool (a type 2 node)

    • Great for bulletin boards

    • Can be set up to automatically transfer to a message pool without owner review

  5. Get a code number

    • Ask the caller to enter a special code that you have given them in advance

    • The code retrieves either a message or a number

    • Play individualized messages for people

    • Provide access to tables of numeric information

Voice apps can be public or private

  • Private apps require a numeric password in addition to the public app code

How much will it cost to use the system?

  • Nothing. It will be free, except for the cost of the telephone call to our local access number.

How will this be financed?

Not sure yet. Three possibilities are:

  1. Foundation grants

  2. Crowd-funding

  3. Short voice ads played to callers

    • 10 second ad gets played to each caller before they hear the main voice app

    • These could be puchased by other ShareTell users to be heard by local callers only, or by corporations trying to reach rural markets

What’s the status of the project?

  • The system design has been completed, and the programming has been started. Most of the voice prompts have been recorded in English. We’ve rented a VOIP server to run everything on. Single-message voice apps are already operational – you can create one right now on our development server: call 917-386-6111 and try it out!

How will you test the system?

  • We will mostly do crowdsourced QA using workers on If you’d like to help with testing yourself, write to us at

Any problems?

Yes, our system is currently VOIP-based. We plan to purchase DID numbers in various countries and route them all to our central VOIP server in the US. However, India (one of our biggest markets) does not allow VOIP gateways, and we need to figure out if there is a way around this. Otherwise we’ll have to have separate servers in India. If you have any input on this, let us know.

Who’s behind this?

ShareTell is the brainchild of Charlie Rubin, a software architect and social entrepreneur in upstate New York. In 1990, he built a commercial platform for interactive voice response (IVR) and sold it commercially for several years. Since then, he has been consulting on database performance optimization and building database intensive websites for numerous Wall Street clients. He is also the creator of, an internet startup that lets homeowners find out if they are over-assessed, and gives them the information they need to reduce their taxes. For more information on his database work, see

What’s going to be on the website? will have:

  • Information about the phone-based system

  • Detailed instructions on how to use it

  • Printable forms in multiple languages for distribution to potential users

  • A web-based keypad for using the system without a telephone

  • A file upload utility for people who want to upload higher quality recordings

  • A list of every public voice app with

    • Its app code

    • A description of its contents

  • A call for donations to help move the project forward

How can I get updates on the progress of the ShareTell project?

  • Join our mailing list. Send a message to with “subscribe” in the subject line. Feel free to send us your thoughts and ideas also.


1 Response » to “An Internet for the *other* 3 billion people”

  1. that’s great plan – you are realizing the tremendous potential of www in phone! Nice meeting u & ur nice family at Ridgely & …
    LOVE – SY

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