Friday, May 16, 2008

Read the Words: audio from text

I found an interesting web site,, via the Infodoodads blog post Read the Words: Text to Speech for Everyonethis morning.

This site, currently in Beta, allows registered users to upload text from sources such as Word, PDF, HTML, and RSS feeds, select a reader (several languages are available), and it creates an audio file in MP3 format that may be downloaded to a audio player, posted online, or embedded into a blog. Naturally, this is something I had to try for myself.

The registration process was minimal (name, age, location, and email) and a valid email and password needs to be established. Creating the audio was as simple as advertised, enter your text and desired audio title, pick the reader, and create the audio. When the reading is complete it displays in a table providing a list of recorded files by name and includes informational links pertaining to audio length, download MP3, embed on website or blog, and podcast. Status will be displayed with a bright green check mark signifying it is complete and there is an option for deleting any or all of your recordings. Additionally, it appears options to categorize readings, something a librarian will enjoy, exists.

With registration complete, I chose to use the text from the EBSS's 2008 ALA Annual Program: Knowledge Wants to Be Known, Open Access for the Behavioral Sciences. I made sure to have paragraph breaks appropriately placed, as well as punctuation. Here are the results:

Overall the sound quality is not too shabby and for anyone needing to create a quick audio file for a web page, say directions in a library or audio of a course handout for the visually impaired, this is ideal. A disappointment, it is audio only; avatar's do not actually read your text when choosing the blog embed option (the voice I selected to read is pictured above). To that point I am hoping the Beta version has a few upgrades planned. The only other thing I noticed is a few oddities with Blogger when I embedded it into a post, several times IE and Mozilla crashed as I was editing the post. I finally chose to add post text and then embed the code. Hopefully this was an issue with our campus computers and not something of concern.

If I can be sure the bugs are out, I may send the audio file to the EBSS webmaster and see if it can be added to the EBSS site for program announcements at ALA Annual.

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