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writer.translator

Category: tools

Cassettes and the analog-digital divide

Two of my friends have recently posted podcasts of their writing on the internet, one on The Writers Block at KQED in San Francisco and another at Podbazaar. I am toying with the idea of producing one of my own stories in audio and posting it here.
     With podcasts, I can listen to my friends’ pieces either through my computer or downloading them to an mp3 player. Like audiobooks, podcasts could be good to carry along on a long drive somewhere.
     Clearly, audio is alive and well, the beneficiary of new technology in production and distribution of digital content. Today a writer who thinks they can hold a reader’s attention with their recorded voice, with access to a computer with a microphone, can use freely-available software (like Audacity) to record a piece. She can then easily find a place on the internet to host her story. Voila, a podcast is born. Why, there is even a site that will allow you to record your podcast through your phone.
     Podcasts are being used by professional establishments as well as independent artists and commentators. The internet had already allowed anyone to publish text. Now, it has opened the way for anyone to do ‘radio.’
     On a global scale, however, I am concerned about the analog-digital divide.

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Hurricane from the past, via Google

Today sitting at my computer at home, I learned, from the pages of a book published in 1890, that the "Backergunge cyclone of October 1876" was the most destructive to life in 19th century Bengal.  Considering the scale of the devastation, it was perhaps also one of the worst disasters worldwide.  The hurricane is described as hitting the districts at the mouth of the Meghna River; today those areas are part of the districts of Bhola, Potuakhali, and Noakhali in Bangladesh. Perhaps as many as a quarter million people died as a result of that hurricane.
    The book?  The Handbook of Cyclonic Storms in the Bay of Bengal for the Use of Sailors.  The author?  John Eliot, Meteorological Reporter to the Government of India.  Printed in Calcutta, the capital of the colonial government.
    And how did I happen to read pages from this book?  A new service from Google, called Google print (available at print.google.com).
    I am excited by this new contribution from Google.

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