I’ve been fond of the LibriVox project for some time, where volunteers contribute spoken recordings of public domain texts (see the Wikinews interview I did last year). It’s a wonderful example of what becomes possible when a work is no longer trapped by copyright law. But I only today discovered the Dramatic Works section of their catalog. Here, multiple readers distribute the speaking of lines from dramatic works like Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, and the result is edited into a single recording. The entire process is coordinated through the LibriVox forums. I love it.
Granted, the results are of varying quality, and only a handful of works have been completed so far. But the technology that enables such collaborations to happen is also still in its infancy. The very existence of high quality open source audio editing software like Audacity has already driven a great many projects (including our own Spoken Wikipedia); imagine what kind of creativity an open source audio collaboration suite could unleash.
Improvements, of course, often come in very small steps. A nice example is the Shtooka software, an open source program specifically designed for the purpose of creating pronunciation files. It is not rocket science, but according to Gerard, who has recorded hundreds of such files, it makes the process so much simpler. I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks at LibriVox come up with their own “Shtooka” solution to distributing the workload of complex dramatic recordings.