Can You Hear Me Now? DLTJ as a Podcast

Update 19-Jan-2011: I’ve decommissioned this service. Talkr seems to be unavailable, and I haven’t had time to find a replacement.

If reading the thoughts of the Jester via this blog wasn’t enough, you can now hear this witty (witless?) insights read to you through your favorite podcast player. I’ve been messing with some technology this weekend for a mashup of my own.

First, start with the Talkr service, which will take the text of your RSS feed posts and convert them to an audio file of a computer generated voice speaking the text to you. The audio file is included as an attachment in a new RSS feed of your post content. In the sidebar of DLTJ, you can subscribe to audio version of this blog using the “Subscribe to Postcast” graphic.Subscribe to Podcast graphic

But wait, there’s more! A second graphic leads to a magic iTunes URI that will add the audio version of the Jester as a podcast in your iTunes setup. That one was a little more difficult in that the RSS coming out of Talkr doesn’t have all of the necessary iTunes markup (and in some cases, the markup itself needs to be futzed with). So a quick pass through an XSLT script gives Apple the feed that they need to make this work in iTunes.Subscribe via iTunes graphic

You might ask “Why iTunes?” followed closely by “Don’t they represent the new evil empire by the way they lock subscribers into using their hardware only?” and ending with “Do you really want to encourage that?” First, as an aside, I’ve already sold part of my soul to Apple — I’ve been sold on their operating system and portable computer hardware for years. But that is really okay because I own a piece of Apple’s soul — 96 pieces to be exact (unless the stock has split again since the last time I checked). Secondly, and more relevant perhaps, is a pragmatic belief to meet the users where they are. If there are potential listeners of DLTJ using iTunes and I can make it easier for them to listen to this blog on the platform of their choice without impacting those who don’t want to make iTunes their choice, then that’s fine. I had this discussion with a fellow librarian about making the OhioLINK Digital Video Collection visible through iTunesU; as long as it is not an exclusive arrangement and the no-iTunesU users are served just as well as those who access the content through iTunesU, then I don’t see a problem with “meeting the users where they are.” (Oh, and yes, I still do not own an iPod — I have a generic MP3 player that suits me just fine.)

By the way: “Can You Hear Me Now?” refers to the tagline for Verison Wireless commercials, a wireless carrier in North America. I’m not sure how well that translates outside this region.

Update [20070330T1030]: Along with the WordPress upgrade, I tweaked the RSS feeds so that the version that Talkr sees does not have the FeedBurner FeedFlares in them. The flares were coming across in the audio as “The original story included an image at this point.” Repeatedly. Quite annoying, I imagine.

(This post was updated on 10-Sep-2011.)