Friday, September 10, 2004

Listening to books in the car.

I fetched the volunteer-made audio version of Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture and listened to it in the car. The volunteers did a fantastic job. It's lower quality than an actor reading in a sound studio, but I enjoyed listening to it.

Then I tried using a synthesized voice to read a book to me. I got a free copy of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow, and I sliced it into chapters with a very small Perl script. The Mac converted the whole book to speech in two minutes, and I listened to about two minutes before giving up. The parts that I understood were hard to understand, and they didn't give enough context to help with the parts that I missed completely. It was like listening to another language that I only half understood.

I'd be happy to let Friend Computer chew on the book overnight if it would produce listenable results. The license for Doctorow's book doesn't seem to allow a recorded audio version (synth or otherwise), but I could be reading it wrong. Either way, I've added a couple of professionally-made audio books to my Amazon wish list, so maybe that will grant me something to listen to soon.
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