October, 2005

Secret Agent – Chapter 11

Posted on October 31, 2005 by | Posted in Blog, Podcast | Comments: Comments Off on Secret Agent – Chapter 11

Well this one was a long time coming – the chaos around the launch of the OpenLibrary delayed timely podcasting delivery. Sorry about that! However, we now have a healthy back-catalog, so those of you podcast listeners will now have a regular schedule of LibriVox goodness.

File: The Secret Agent, Chapter 11
Written by: Joseph Conrad
Read by: Squiddartha
Bit rate: 64 kbps
File size: 35.0 MB
Internet Archive page (for Ogg & 128kbps file)

Next up: Chapter 12, read by Derek Elliot.


Report on Open Library Launch

Posted on October 27, 2005 by | Posted in News | Comments: 8 Comments on Report on Open Library Launch

So, first a big thank you to everyone who worked hard to make sure we had a respectable-looking catalog by October 25, and particularly the efforts to get the requested books done.

So, how did the big event go?

I (on LibriVox’s behalf) was invited by the Internet Archive to participate in the official launch of the the Open Library, a project affiliated with the Open Content Alliance. I didn’t really realize what a big event it would be. See some press on it here, here, here, here, and here.

LibriVox was just a little part, but you will all be happy to know, we triggered the biggest and most spontaneous applause of the keynote speech (more on that later).

This was a huge gathering, of about 600 people, with attendees from Internet Archive, Adobe, WallStreet Journal, Apple, Hewlett Packard, Yahoo!, Google, Lulu, Technorati (Japan), SF Chronicle, Smithsonian Institute, MSN Search, a huge number of university libraries–University of Toronto, Berkley, Stanford etc.— among many other.

We, along with about 5 others demos, had a little kiosk demonstrating LibriVox. Unfortunately I am not much of a cocktail-work-the-room salesman, or we might have been even more popular, but as it was we had a healthy amount of interest from the crowd who stopped by to take a look at the website, have a listen to some samples, check out the forum, and ask questions. (The first question was: “How are you funded?” “Ha!” I said. “By the good will of an amazing number of superb volunteers, care to join us?”)

The real meat of the event was to announce the partnership to scan books in the public domain and make them available through the Open Library, and a demo of the scanning & book printing technology. Essentially 2 digital cameras take photos of the pages of the book, so you get faithful reproductions. The cool thing is the added aspect of the print-on-demand (lulu is involved): with the roving bookmobile, these books can be printed and bound, and you’ve got a real live copy, bound and beautiful. They are quite nice looking!

The Open Library has started with 14 books, selected by University of California; this will be the American Fiction collection, to grow I assume. I would like, if we get the support of our LibriVox family, to propose some kind of formal partnership with Archives to produce, at least, audio versions of these 14 books. Microsoft is funding scanning of a further 150,000 books over the next 2 years, so we’ll have our work cut out if we wish to keep up!

Now to the speech itself.

Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, and the driving force behind this project made the case for his exciting challenge: to deliver “universal access to all human knowledge” … to provide an Alexandria for all the people everywhere (as long as they have internet access!). As he went through his speech/presentation, there were a number of periods of clapping, hurrahs etc. But this moment made me a little teary-eyed, I must admit. Brewster was demonstrating, on-screen, the Open Library version of the International Episode … and after flipping through a few pages, he clicked on the “listen” button.

You can’t hear it in the recording I made—which is stuck in my iriver for the moment, I’ll have it available in a couple of days, sorry about that!—but there was an audible gasp in the audience, as in “wow” … and then on came Alex reading for LibriVox… when Brewster pressed stop, the crowd went crazy with applause.

How cool is that?

Now, back to our studios!

By the way, LibriVox is ALWAYS looking for volunteers!


Open Content Alliance (or, Boing Boing’d again)

Posted on October 26, 2005 by | Posted in News | Comments: 3 Comments on Open Content Alliance (or, Boing Boing’d again)

I’ll tell you more soon about this very cool event & LibriVox participation, but here’s Cory Doctorow’s write-up:

The Open Content Alliance is scanning in hundreds of thousands of public-domain books. According to Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, “At an Internet Archive event in San Francisco tonight 14 libraries and MSN joined the Open Content Alliance. MSN kicked off their association by committing to scan 150k books in 2006! (this is a big deal, in my opinion). ”

As if that’s not cool enough, there’s a preview of one of the ways that you’ll be able to read the Alliance’s output that’s just gone live. It has a gorgeous in-browser book-viewer that combines the best elements of a physical book (tactility, the idiosyncracies of printed type) with an electronic book (zoomability, searchability, text-to-speech audio). It’s gorgeous. Link (Thanks, Brewster and Beatrice!)

Update: Gord sez, “readings are done by volunteers. For example ‘International Episode’ was read by the Librivox Project which you mentioned in BoingBoing previously. By the way, Librivox now has 7 books completed and available for download with 18 additional books in process. Here’s the current Librivox catalog.

(via Boing Boing)


LibriVox stats

Posted on October 18, 2005 by | Posted in News | Comments: 5 Comments on LibriVox stats

Some LibriVox stats for everyone:

  • Days since LibriVox started: 71
  • Number of volunteers on the forum: 65
  • Number of volunteers who have completed at least one chapter: 27
  • Number of chapters recorded (roughly): 130
  • Average number of chapters produced per day: 1.83
  • Number of books completed: 4 (one is not yet released)
  • Number of completed books expected by the end of this week: 8
  • Number of solo projects done or underway: 7
  • Number of completed books expected by Dec. 31, 2005: 24
  • Number of books targeted for completion by Dec. 31, 2005: 20
  • Number of books targeted for completion by Dec. 31, 2006: 100


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