news of note

Posted on September 15, 2005 by | Posted in site & admin | Comments: 15 Comments

A few changes in the life of LibriVox, and some interesting developments.

First, thanks to Kristen for doing some organizational & design work on the site. We’ll be looking at moving to a more robust content management system soon, to make the book choice/chapter reservation process more efficient. A “call for volunteers” will be going out (soonish) for any techies out there interested in helping with that process. Please comment below if you would like to help.

Second, in the “nothing new under the sun” department, here’s a site from France, operating since January 2005, doing much the same thing as LibriVox: incipit blog … great titles too!

And: we’ve been in touch with Project Gutenberg (our source for public domain e-texts) regarding LibriVox and got an enthusiastic response from CEO Dr. Gregory Newby. We’ll be trying to figure out how to make that connection work, over the next few months. We’ll be doing the same with the Internet Archive , to try to streamline our audio file hosting process.

Finally, if you wish to record for LibriVox, Boyhood (Tolstoy) and Frankenstein (Shelley), still have chaps up for grabs. Reserve your chapters here.

In the mean time, get to your microphones, or just sit back and listen …

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15 comments

  1. Chris says:

    I’ll be happy to help out technically if you’re looking for help. Not sure what you’ll be after…

    A few ideas come to mind; a bulletin board / forum might be worthwhile, to discuss books and approaches and stuff like that; if the project continues to grow it might also provide a way that you can ‘open source’ the whole process: if people are willing to coordinate the volunteers for a book they can post a topic asking for volunteers, and all you need to do is set guidelines…

    The other possibility is bittorrent feeds for the audio files. If demand grows (and I think it might) that would take the load off whatever servers you use.

    Oh, and how about getting the librivox.org domain name?

    Let me know what I can do… chris[at]goringe[dot]net

  2. Alex says:

    Speaking of techie bits, it might be an idea to prevent older episodes falling off the bottom of the podcast feed. It might annoy newcomers if they get a feed that begins halfway into a book. You gotta get the other files manually and they arn’t organised with the podcast in your podcatcher, etc etc.

    Don’t know if bittorrent is necessary. Isn’t the internet archive hosting the audio files? Those wonderful people will worry about the bandwidth charges. A link to their donation page would be polite, though. It is:
    http://www.archive.org/donate/index.php

  3. hugh says:

    i’ve put a catalogue link in the sidebar; and maybe the conrad link should link to the conrad-catalogue page rather than the blog catagories?

    Re: bittorrent & archive … yes they are hosting, and an archive donation link is a great idea. I’ll make their meta largess more clear in the “about” texts, and add a donate button of some kind.

    cheers.

  4. kristen says:

    For the current site, I want to make a couple more structural changes and would love some help (I’m familiar with php, but not the Smarty templates blogsome uses)

    1. On the main page, show only items in the Books & Podcasts categories
    2. In the New and Volulunteers sidebar sections, display the linked title to the latest post in those sections.

    Those two things will make the site more focussed on listeners (which there are moer of that readers, of course).

    A forum is on the wish list, along with a polling system for voting on next books, and several other things. Don’t want to go overboard, though. It’s possible to run the show with WordPress and some phpBB forums.

  5. tis says:

    archive – excellent, forget I suggested bittorrent :)

    BB – yes, phpBB or similar was exactly what I had in mind.

    Polling – I can see a couple of options here (and, btw, I’d be up for doing any required coding to make them work). One is simple voting, where the admins put up a list and take votes. The other, which would move more responsibility onto the community, would be to allow anyone to propose a book: they would divide it up into chunks, and call for volunteers to read. Anyone could then sign up for any book, and a book would be selected to be produced by virtue of being fully subscribed. This could be done relatively easily via a forum (just have a “readers” section with a new thread for each proposed book) or via some custom software (which, as I say, I would be prepared to write) if you want to automate it.

  6. tis says:

    Oops. ’tis’ (#5) is the same person as ‘chris’ (#1)

  7. kristen says:

    Chris/tis, consider yourself recruited. Let’s talk to Hugh a bit more about details and figure out the best way to proceed. We’ve got limitations with our hosting at the moment, and we’re just finding our way regarding how to manage the project (book selection/voting, scheduling, archiving and all that!) . But we will find it together. Thank you!

  8. hugh says:

    guys, just have a minute tonite, but some comments:

    tis, like the idea of having the project as community-driven as possible … put onus on a “book booster” to get friends & neighbours to record chapters. we could award “stars of public domain excellence” for the most completed books in a month. say the top 5 subscribed books automatically get listed as to-do books on the main page, other books you need to search for a little.

    also: for now, I think our real target is readers, rather than listeners, though I may be wrong, so lets be careful to keep the volunteer info visible. ie, I’m not sure if we should relegate volunteer info to the sidebar in this format yet…

    also, kristen in the “books” sidebar section, we can just have the 5 latest completed books … and maybe the 5 books under construction.

    I think that’s it for now … gotta get to bed!
    later.

  9. hugh says:

    oh yeah, and kristen, using an rss feed of specific-tag del.icio.us links is hacky way to get stuff you want in the sidebar, though with the traffic we may generate here, the delicious folks may not be too happy about that. still, can work temporarily until we come up with better solutions.

  10. kristen says:

    I’d sort of like to avoid hacky things, as they tend to come back and bite you later on-especially in a volunteer project where volunteers of various skills replace one another with some frequency. If we can find solutions within the software we’re using, that’s a more elegant way to proceed and easier to maintain later on.

  11. Hugh, you created a monster!

    I know a little bit about Smarty and PHP, but don’t know if I have the time to help out much. Perhaps if anybody wants to talk through things on IRC or Jabber, I could spare an hour or so.

    What I missed while reading Conrad was a place to collect wisdom on how to best read, edit and save my chapter. A wiki would be nice, even if it were just temporary.

  12. hugh says:

    oh, and to chris: i bought http://www.librivox.org yesterday!

    hugh.

  13. Chris says:

    hugh – great. Are you planning to get it hosted? A lot of the stuff I think you want to do (for instance, kirsten’s two requests @#4) are pretty straightforward if you are running on a decent hosting company (ie one that lets you run WordPress properly). I’ve set up a few WordPress blogs before, and I’d be happy to do it again; I’m also fairly sure I know how to write plugins to meet kirsten’s request.

    The company I use for my stuff is phpwebhosting.com, and I’d highly recommend them; they aren’t very expensive ($10 per month?) and let you do pretty much anything you like. I’m sure there are lots of other options too.

    [I have no association with phpwebhosting except as a customer]

  14. hugh says:

    hey chris, yes plan is to get hosted, though my pereference is to have someone donate hosting … perhaps we can find server space (as well as audio space) on archives.org? Once we settle on specific specs of what we want/need we can put out a call and see who jumps to help.

    re: hosting, there won’t be too much memory required, since the site itself we be just used to manage the volunteers, catalogue and to provide one (or several) podcast feeds … Though if things pick up at LibriVox there may be lots of traffic (we had 10,000 hits on the boing boing day, and we’re still getting about 1,000 a day).

    anyway, all this must be put down in some more specific detail, which we hope to do soon, so anyone who wishes to help out will be more than welcome.

  15. tis says:

    hugh – my experience with wmb would suggest that 1,000 hits per day is close to enough to make the hosting pay for itself, if you are prepared to put a google ads banner on the page.

    So I’ll donate the hosting (enough for a blog, podcasts, a bulletin board, plenty of storage and loads of bandwidth) if we can include such a banner to defray the costs.

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