Blogging Meets Podcasting

Bloggers find a (computerized) voice: Two services that turn Web logs and news feeds into audio files have launched on the Web. Talkr.com and Speakwire.com both use text-to-voice technology to generate audio files from Web pages. “If you can point us to a (Really Simple Syndication) feed, we will convert it,” a message on the Talkr site explains. “Talkr can also provide you with a podcast of your favorite news sources,” so you can have your own sort of radio newscasts downloaded to a portable player. Talkr is free if you listen to blogs that have arrangements with the service. A subscription plan is available if you want other blogs processed for play. Speakwire is offered by CEC Systems of Edinburgh, whose primary business is Speegle (www.speegle.co.uk/), a search service that speaks the results of Web searches. The company’s Gordon Renton said people have associated such text-to-voice services as only for the visually impaired. “I think that is missing the point and we set out to demonstrate just how universal speech is,” he said in a statement on the Web site. “It’s the nearest equivalent to a common currency and can be exchanged and understood as easily. Speech is mightier than the pen.” Speakwire users can pick news feeds, collate them, and play them as a speaking newswire service. Speakwire news feeds by voice are available free at www.speakwire.com/.

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