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09 October 2008
Librevox.org: changing the world with the spoken word
This is a guest posting by UKSecretCourts:

Can you imagine the change in the world a couple of mad geeks can make?

Back in April I started volunteering for Librivox.org. They're a group of 9,000 geeks, geekettes and audiophiles who decided, as people like that often do, that they wanted to do something extraordinary for the entire planet. Their mission is to record every book that has ever been written into mp3 format, and make it available free, on the internet, to anyone and everyone.

So far, the cute mad hatters, have recorded approx 3% of all those books. The numbers of volunteers are growing by the week, and now books in many different languages are offered - all for free.

Can you imagine the world this opens up for the blind? Now, the blind have the entire repository of authors works recorded and available, for free.

Who hosts all this data? Again, other geeks came to the rescue and the masses of audiobooks are held on servers around the world for free.

Today, a teacher of English as a Second Language contacted Librivox, and raised an interesting perspective, that no one had realised before. Librivox are a dream come true for ESL teachers around the world. Our accents range from American, Australian, Belgian, British, Canadian to Chinese. Of course, it's all English, but look at the breadth of pronunciation. We have Shakespeare's Monologues from MacBeth read by an amazing Scottish gentleman, who inspires fear, just listening to his renditions. English spoken in Scotland, is different to Wales, and indeed England. That's before we even start to mention Kentucky and Minnesota.

So how expensive is the software to produce mp3s? Well, thanks to some other geeks, there's Audacity, which is top notch open source software. The guys who wrote Audacity, wanted to give something back into the community, so they gave us this amazing, cross platform, free software.

So we have Sir Tim Berners Lee, free of licence internet, providing free audiobooks, recorded for free, using free software, and hosted for free and teaching ESL students the world over, for free. It's almost like wishing for world peace, and actually achieving it.

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