LibriVox and Laika in Reason Magazine

… LibriVox began in a vibrant section of Montreal called the Plateau, where 32-year-old Hugh McGuire lives with his wife…McGuire hangs out at Laika, a café and bar around the corner from his house that is popular with Montreal techies. At Laika, open source gurus, community WiFi evangelists, and A-list Web designers drink coffee, eat brunch, work on their laptops, and swap ideas…

Apparently in the print version of the mag, there’s a big pic of Laika – I’ll scan & post it when I get it (coming in the mail). See:

The Wealth of LibriVox:
Classic texts, amateur audiobooks, and the grand future of online peer production
by Michael Erard

(thanks to Heri for the heads up).

interview with jon udell on LibriVox

I’ve always been a big fan of Jon Udell’s stuff – he writes not just about tech things that interest me, but he’s also got a great sense that web technology ought to be good for society as well. Jon was one of the first “famous” people I contacted when I started LibriVox, and he’s been a fan, and written about the project a number of times. So I was really happy when he asked me to join him on his IT Conversations podcast, Jon Udell’s Interviews With Innovators (you might need to register to see that page). This was a long (47 mins) and great interview, really getting into the meat and bones of how and why LibriVox works, but also touching on much other interesting stuff as well.

Here’s the page.

Listen here: mp3 link.


In other exciting news, Jon whipped up a script (tweaked and built on by the ever-effective Chris), that allows you to add a LibriVox book directly to iTunes. Here’s how Kri describes the new addition to the site:

Thanks to Jon Udell and our resident catalog development guru tis (Chris Goringe) we have a new feature that has been added to all catalog pages. Check out the most recent Short Poetry Collection to see an example of the following…

1. A “Subscribe in iTunes” link. If you regularly use iTunes for podcasts, or would like to, this link will be very helpful to you. Just click on the link, and allow it to launch the external application (iTunes) if it asks

2. An RSS feed for the 64kbps files. What’s the point of this? For some this makes it easier to download all of the 64kbps MP3 files at once. For example, if you listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher, use this link to download them all more easily.

Categories: art, audio, books

vonnegut v2

Vonnegut is dead. I scoured my shelves for a copy of Palm Sunday to quote some gems about writing well, but I could not find it! … Must have lent it to someone? But here is the passage about writing an anti-war book:

I said [I was writing a book about Dresden] to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, “Is it an anti-war book?”
“Yes,” I said. “I guess.”
“You know what I say to people when I hear they’re writing anti-war books?”
“No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?”
“I say, ‘Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead?”
What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.

Here is a wonderful interview with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., aged 82, on the great Australia Radio National show, Late Night Live, with Phillip Adams.

Categories: art, audio, technology, video

digital media sucks

Maurizio has a great post about the dismal quality of mp3/ACC audio, and the parallels in crappy video. Actually the problem – for audio at least – is far worse than just the final format:

Dynamic range, warmth and depth have all but disappeared it seems in today’s music recordings. Music is compressed in recording, in mastering, in broadcast; often at all three stages. The loudness effect is ubiquitous. Broadcast audio is so pumped that it never seems to vary more than a few db. What results is music that is shallow, cold, harsh and without any kind of imaging or space.

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Categories: audio, librivox, media

Darwin’s Origin of Species – audio

Boing Boing reports that LibriVox just released an audio version of:

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,
by Charles Darwin

Twenty-four hours of audio/biology/history goodness. This project was a real battle to get finished (I’ve got a chapter in there), so congrats to the many hands that made it happen.