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Talkr: Creating Automated Audio Podcasts of Your Text Blog Entries

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  • Andy Carvin
    Hi everyone, I ve just started experimenting with a rather funky tool called Talkr (http://www.talkr.com). Essentially, Talkr is a podcast generator for text
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2006
      Hi everyone,

      I've just started experimenting with a rather funky tool called Talkr
      (http://www.talkr.com). Essentially, Talkr is a podcast generator for
      text blogs, and it has enormous implications for people with visual
      impairments and limited literacy.

      When you look at a typical blog, it's mostly text. This may be no
      problem for many people, but if you're reading skills aren't strong or
      you don't see well, text blogs can be quite a challenge. Meanwhile,
      thousands of Internet users create their own podcasts, which are
      basically blogs containing audio files. Apart from being really cool for
      everyone, podcasts are particularly useful for people who can't read or
      see well. But they're not exactly practical for the hard of hearing,
      either, who would benefit more from reading a text blog. Theoretically,
      it would be great if every person who wrote a text blog would record a
      podcast of it as well, but very few, if any bloggers bother to do this.

      Enter Talkr. Talkr is a Web-based speech synthesizer that takes the
      texts of blogs and generates and MP3 file, with a computer voice
      speaking the text. For people who just want to visit their favorite text
      blogs and listens to them, Talkr works as blog management tool; you
      simply add your favorite blogs to your account, and it will create a
      computer-generated voice mp3 for each entry. Meanwhile, for all of you
      bloggers out there, Talkr lets you embed a computer-generatd mp3 into
      each of your blog entries, and supplies you with an RSS feed for them.
      This means that users can either come to your blog and click a link to
      listen to the mp3, or they can use iTunes or another podcast management
      tool to subscribe to the feed and receive each new mp3 file automatically.

      Talkr is still a work in progress, but it's fascinated me to the point
      that I've decided to take a shot at integrating it into my blog. Each of
      my blog entries will now have a link at the bottom that says "Listen to
      a computer-generated podcast of this article." Clickling the link will
      bring you to the mp3 file where you can hear the text being read aloud.
      (Note: I've noticed that the mp3 files don't work immediatley when
      you've posted a new blog entry; it takes at least a few minutes to
      generate the file.) For example, here's the MP3 file that was generated
      by my last blog entry, about race and the digital divide:


      Meanwhile, I've also added a new RSS feed that allows you to subscribe
      directly to the mp3 via iTunes or another podcast manager:


      I will be very curious to hear what all of you think of this tool. The
      computer voice takes some getting used to - it's also a woman's voice,
      so don't expect to hear a radio-friendly baritone or anything like that.
      In practice, though, this tool could be used to help people who
      experience limited literacy skills or visual impairments, giving them a
      whole new way to participate in the blogosphere. Please let me know what
      you think. -andy


      Andy Carvin
      acarvin (at) edc . org
      andycarvin (at) yahoo . com

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