Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Talking Book, Version 2.0: "Flash Memory Distribution of Digital Talking Books"

[The above title is, of course, a allusion to Ong's essay "The Talked Book," which is different than a talking book, but there you go. While I'm titling this post "The Talking Book 2.0," that's probably a term better used for books on CD-ROM. And now that I think about it, there's also .mp3, .wav, etc. audio books, and now those self-playing digital audio books from Playaway. But as this is the second generation talking book for accessibility issues, I'll leave it as "The Talking Book, 2.0."]

The Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has a series of white papers on digital talking books, the most recent of which is "Flash Memory Distribution of Digital Talking Books." In addition to explaining what they'll be doing, the paper explains why they've decided to go with flash memory as opposed to other digital storage options. From the introduction:
In 2008 the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) will begin to replace its existing cassette-based talking book system with a new system based on digital talking books (DTBs). These books, recorded and played back using digital audio technology, will provide the same top-quality narration NLS patrons have come to expect.

Along with digital audio must come a new medium to replace the analog cassette. This new medium must be as easy to use, as durable, and as simple to duplicate as the cassette. Ideally it would also hold far more audio, be reusable, and still be of reasonable cost. For these reasons NLS has chosen the USB (Universal Serial Bus) Flash Drive for the circulation of DTBs

This choice was made after considering alternative digital media carriers such as CD-ROM and the miniature hard drive. [Read more.]
Via TechRhet.

Cross posted to Machina Memorialis.

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