Making sense, robot-style

This is so cool, it deserves its own post rather than simply an update. I just realized that the Feedblitzed email version of my last post — and I presume all other Via Negativa posts from here on — contained an audio link at the end. Clicking it generated the following creepy yet delightful rendering, via Talkr.

[audio:http://www.talkr.com/audio/v/i/a/n/1557834.mp3]

Email subscribers will not see the above player, however. They can click on this link instead.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

5 Comments


  1. Whoa. That is weird. Good for blind blog readers, I imagine. The voice quality and inflection ain’t bad – they’re clearly improving the technology.

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  2. leslee – Yeah, that’s the idea, I guess. On the one hand, it seems like a cool idea to sign up for a Talkr account and put an audio link at the end of every post (I mean here on the blog, not just in emails), out of consideration for blind readers. On the other hand, I could do quickie recordings of my own that would make much more sense – but being a perfectionist I probably wouldn’t be satisfied with that.

    Breet – Hee! I liked the little “bleep” noise she/it made for the ellipsis.

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  3. Mechanical readings of poetry? eew.

    Author readings of poetry? cool!

    (Mechanically generated poetry? Ummm… ;-) )

    Another important point for blind netters is the various “title” and “description” fields for images, and other page objects, (including links). Visual web-browsers sometimes put these in tooltips or status bar, but for a blind reader, that’s all they get. Have you been “being good” about those?

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  4. David – I have with images for the past couple of months, yes. When you copy the code from Flickr, the title they supply is “Photo sharing,” which is useless. So I’ve gotten in the habit of replacing that either with the alt description, or something more descriptive. I don’t believe it violates the Flickr TOS. As for adding titles to links, I suppose I should, but life’s too short.

    I should add that I do have audio for some of the poems at my online collection Shadow Cabinet, and just yesterday I added little audio icons to the appropriate entry in the table of contents. This morning I did one new recording (here) and hope to do more as time permits.

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