Nov 3, 2010

Departure: Technogeek in place of Philosogeek

Back now for several days from a grueling month of attending conferences, preparing and providing workshops, seemingly interminable committee meetings, web-design, a few job applications, and . . .  oh, yeah, how could I forget, regular web-enhanced Critical Thinking classes for my students -- back and almost fully up to speed, it's time to get the blogging back into gear.  I've got a few started and then parked posts which I hope to finish, polish, and bring to light in the next several days.  But today, instead, a short, technogeeky (as opposed to philosogeeky) post.

One of our webmaster-IT gurus at FSU, Bill Gibson sent out an interesting email, which linked to his blog, which linked then to Odiogo, a site which takes blog posts and "reads" them as near-human quality speech to anyone who clicks on the newly-enabled buttons on one's blog, in this case my own little site of ramblings and ruminations.

After installing it on the site, and after a few moments in which, the linkage not yet being established, blank and error pages came up at every click, I listened to a male voice reading my last-posted blog entry to me.  It read straight into parenthetical interjections, collapsing the semantic-to-pragmatic house of linguistic card I seem to slip into inescapably (I blame too much Augustine, Cicero, Hegel, and Blondel reading -- other languages lend their resources of case, conjunction, and conjugation to complex periods in ways English can only nostalgically pine for) into juxtapositions rather jarring to my ears but pleasant perhaps to some who treasure occasions of chaos or cacophony (ok, a bit of exaggeration there).

Lacking was the voice-drop, the lean-in, the cues we inject into diction when reading asides and commentary -- how would a computer-generated voice -- at least at the current level of sophistication -- adequately encompass such subtleties?  But, as a tech-savvy colleague and collaborator assures me, the sound is particularly good, especially for a free program.

At any rate, it is now installed and part of the blog.  I'd love to get comments from readers with their verdicts on how earlier posts sound in Odiogo-voice.  So, have a listen, see what philosophy sounds like when a computer is reading it to you, and then chime in.

[followup -- as part of a blog redesign, I removed Odiogo some time ago.  Rereading this blog entry while editing its tags, it strikes me that I might down the line put together a set of podcasts of some of my blog entries.  But that project will have to wait until I have left Fayetteville State University]