Talkr: Creating Automated Audio Podcasts of Your Text Blog Entries
- 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
acarvin (at) edc . org
andycarvin (at) yahoo . com