March 29, 2004

Lessig Read-a-Thon

I'm a participant in the Free Culture read-a-thon, supporting a full free legal audio version of Professor Lawrence Lessig's new book, Free Culture Or, Why am I a sucker for any event with "Thon" in the title?

AKMA had the fantastic idea to record chapters of Lawrence Lessig’s new book, Free Culture (made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 1.0 Creative Commons license) in mp3 format. Like a colony of ants, a group of people attacked the book in sections. Most of it has been recorded, with just a small effort on the part of each individual.

Here’s what we have so far:

Preface: Kevin Marks, available here

Introduction: Raph Levien, available here

Intro to the “Piracy” section (thanks for noticing this!): Chris Farmer, available here

Chapter 1: Doug Kaye (download it here already! And it’s terrific), George’s version here (I’m glad they took this chapter; I’m not ready to try to pronounce doujinshi.)

Chapter 2: Victoria and A. J. Wright available here

Chapter 3: Victoria and A. J. Wright Now available here.

Chapter 4: Eric Rice (may be able to help with hosting), Adam Brault available here

Chapter with Governess and Bodice-Ripping: Halley (I want to hear this)

Chapter 5: AKMA (done — here it is, hefty at 15.67 Mb; anyone should feel free to compress it if you see a way to)

Chapter 6: Les Hall, Guan Yang

Chapter 7: Michael Shook (probably can’t host) Available here.

Chapter 8: Suw Charman available here

Chapter 9: Tara now available here, Chuck Welch

Chapter 10: Giles Hoover

Chapter 11: Neel (can probably host it), Dave Winer (available now, here!)

Chapter 12: Dave Winer, available here

Chapter 13: Jeneane Sesssum

Chapter 14: Ted Fletcher

Conclusion: Enoch Choi, available here
Notes (ahem!): techt

Executive Summary: Halley “Executive” Suitt (no, it’s pronounced to rhyme with “root,” not “bleat”

Graphic: David Weinberger

For my part, it took several hours of work because I wasn't set up for audio recording. Most of the time, I played around with software, microphones and mp3 encoders in order to end up with a clear, manageable file. (And then Trevor got his hands on the mic and recorded songs about bananas and whoopie cushions for an hour.)

What I used:
Audacity worked extremely well for the recording itself. It's one of those applications which is fairly intuitive to operate as a novice, but offers many features for the expert. After a couple of false starts, it worked best when I read a paragraph, paused the recording for a drink or paper shuffling, then hit record again and did the next paragraph. I got through 80% of chapter without any major errors that way. But when I did make a mistake, it was easy to stop the recording, chop out the mistake and begin recording at the spot where I left off. Audacity mixed my final take seamlessly. I'm dying to take a crack at Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom with this software.

Audacity is great, but it won't get you to the end of the line. I had a perfectly serviceable WAV file at the end of the night, but it was 71.4 MB. A mite too big for the Web. The Alt WAV to MP3 & WMA Converter was not as easy to use, but it got the job done. My primary problem was that it repeatedly told me that my finished product would be 33MB. I spent a good deal of time trying to shrink that by playing with settings until I gave up and hit encode anyway. The file came out to 11MB instead. I don't get it, but I accept it.

The microphone was a chintzy little Compaq clip on that looked unassuming, but produced crystal clear sound with no background noise.

The file is hosted on (a side project in progress) with space and bandwidth provided by UltraCheapHosting.

The seltzer was Zazz.

The hour was late, and the girl was tired.

Enjoy... Chapter 9: Collectors

By Tara @ 11:10 AM


If you end up with a wav file, you can import that into iTunes and then resample it to AAC or mp3. Select the file and choose "Convert Selection to [format]" from the Advanced menu. The format is determined by whatever format you have chosen in your Import preferences. It works like a charm!

Posted by Sean at 11:34 AM on March 29, 2004

That is a fine idea, Sean. It will be nice to have my iTunes doing something other than, well... nothing.

Posted by Tara at 2:41 PM on March 29, 2004

*downloads and listens*
You've got a gorgeous voice babe and the file is incredibly informative.
As far as the encoding goes, I always got good results using Music Match when converting WAV to MP3 but I'm not much of an encoding maven.
(Also, you should come online sometime!)

Posted by Xara at 4:20 PM on March 29, 2004

Great job. I read the AKMA post. Downloaded the book..scanned a few chapters and then commented that I would take chapter nine.

The next day I see someone named Tara is going to do the same chapter. I thought "That's cool. She must have heard my voice somewhere and wanted to spare everyone."

I wanted to know who she was so I read all the comments after mine and I didn't see where she posted.

So I began from the first comment and I find it... exactly one comment and 30 minutes before mine!

Yes, my face did turn red! I apologize. I'm sure you had to wonder if I was simply stupid or merely clueless.

So, Tara, would you mind if I horned in on your chapter? I don't see an open one now.

Posted by Chuck Welch at 8:17 AM on March 31, 2004


I would absolutely not mind. Different versions of each chapter are a good thing -- I look forward to downloading yours!


Posted by Tara at 10:48 AM on March 31, 2004


Tara is Reading

Dave is Reading