Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Library

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mfranks
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Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Library

Post by mfranks » Sat Apr 08, 2006 10:05 pm

I've been studying Latin for a full year now and recently started "playing" with Greek. I have been actively reading and posting to this site for several months now and have recieved a great deal of help and encouragement here.

One thing that I have noticed is that there is not a very good source of audio out there that assist "students" of Greek & Latin with the pronunication of these languages. Yes, there are sites out there that have samples here and there. But these sites are scarce and hard to find and incomplete in their "offerings".

It would be great if TextKit would continue to evolve it's offerings and take the next step and provide a "library" of audio samples for it's consituency.

I agree wholeheartly with the following statement directly quoted from the SOCIETY FOR THE ORAL READING OF GREEK AND LATIN LITERATURE (SORGLL):
  • "The element of sound is therefore fundamental to a full esthetic experience and understanding of Greek and Latin literature. And yet, the traditional method of teaching Greek and Latin ignores or neglects the sounds of these languages, as if they were of little or no importance, thus depriving students of the basic literary reward of hearing and reproducing beautiful poetry. It is as if students were to study Mozart solely from musical scores and not be given the opportunity of hearing his music."
If you are interested in the entire piece on this subject, follow the link below.

http://www.rhapsodes.fll.vt.edu/index.php

There are also samples on the SORGLL site that are helpful. Nonetheless, this site and others, only offer a few snipets and are incomplete. You would think that a site dedicated to the purpose of expanding the "auditory" experience of Greek & Latin would have a much richer "library" of sample audio files. Sadly, this is not the case!

For example, it would be nice that they (SORGLL et al) would have a Homeric Greek pronunication guide modeled after the 5th Centrury Attic Greek sample that the have there.

Textkit could easily build an "audio library" with contribututions from it's learned members who could make recordings of their rendtions of pronunciations of various dialects and sample readings of various Greek & Roman literature.

For example, I would venture to guess that someone like Lucus, who has offered a number of times to help members with their Latin pronunication using Skype (including yours truly), could be persuaded with little effort to produce some audio recordings in Latin. There are many other individuals out there that could offer samples to TextKit for publication on this site as well.

There are challenges and obsticles - none greater that the fact that audio files, unlike text, chew up disk space very quickly. Hosting companies charge a premium for storage and often times have tiered pricing structures based on bandwidth and storage requirements for it's customers - both affected with serving audio. Certainly, the financial burden to support an audio library could sour the idea - but it need not be the case.

Textkit could put in place a process with a structure that would ruduce the amount of space such a venture would require. This is a separate follow up discussion - if such an idea is seriously considered by the "Board" here at TextKit. I am hopeful that we can continue this discussion where it will lead to implementing such an idea.

With that said, what do people think about this suggestion and what can we do to further the discussion with the "gatekeepers" of this site? I would be surprised if this topic has not surfaced before. If so, what killed this discussion back then? What are the concerns and obstacles preventing implementing such an idea today?

Looking forward to hearing from my friends here on textkit and from the board on this issue.

Warmest Regards,

Mark
Last edited by mfranks on Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Libra

Post by edonnelly » Sun Apr 09, 2006 2:04 pm

mfranks wrote: There are challenges and obsticles - none greater that the fact that audio files, unlike text, chew up disk space very quickly. Hosting companies charge a premium for storage and often times have tiered pricing structures based on bandwidth and storage requirements for it's customers - both affected with serving audio. Certainly, the financial burden to support an audio library could sour the idea - but it need not be the case.
If space is a concern, the Internet Archive could be used to host audio files. It's free and the only requirement is that it would also be available to anyone else in the world (often the Creative Commons licence is used by uploaders).

By the way, the Internet Archive can also be used to host texts (e.g. Manual of Latin Prosody).
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library

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Re: Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Libra

Post by annis » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:12 am

mfranks wrote:It would be great if TextKit would continue to evolve it's offerings and take the next step and provide a "library" of audio samples for it's consituency.
This has been suggested several times already.
For example, I would venture to guess that someone like Lucus, who has offered a number of times to help members with their Latin pronunication using Skype (including yours truly), could be persuaded with little effort to produce some audio recordings in Latin.
But we wouldn't want them to, if we leave the emphasis on with little effort. I have recorded several approaches to just this idea with Greek, and I have scrapped all of them but one. Doing it right is not something done with little effort.
There are challenges and obsticles - none greater that the fact that audio files,
I'd say the audio files themselves are low down the list of obstacles. We need people who have made a study of the scholarship on ancient pronunciation, who can explain this work somehow, can navigate the disuputes to produce a reasonable model for people to pronounce and explain that navigation, can then explain the tricky bits to beginners, record sound samples of good quality and with good and consistent enunciation starting with phonemes before working up to words, phrases and sentences. Finally, we need to find people with the time to do all this right, which includes the technical end.

Web pages for a basic introduction to the reconstructed pronunciation of Greek is on my list of things to do, but low down that list. The population of people interested in Greek and Latin is small. Of that population, I'd say those concerned about how they pronounce these languages is proprtionately small.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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Re: Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Libra

Post by mfranks » Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:02 pm

annis wrote:
mfranks wrote:It would be great if TextKit would continue to evolve it's offerings and take the next step and provide a "library" of audio samples for it's consituency.
This has been suggested several times already.
If this is the case, why not make an effort to move forward with having an audio library? Obviously, if it has been suggested several times before, there is a need worth pursuing - inspite of the obsticles you mention.
annis wrote:
mfranks wrote:[For example, I would venture to guess that someone like Lucus, who has offered a number of times to help members with their Latin pronunication using Skype (including yours truly), could be persuaded with little effort to produce some audio recordings in Latin.
But we wouldn't want them to, if we leave the emphasis on with little effort. I have recorded several approaches to just this idea with Greek, and I have scrapped all of them but one. Doing it right is not something done with little effort.
Perhaps, I was trivializing the effort required a bit - Nonetheless, effort is relative and is different for someone highly skilled verses someone who is marginally skilled or worse. People who have the "talent" require less effort than those of us who don't... :-) This is the area where haveing a "process" to insure quality of submissions would be necessary. Why not have a "pilot" effort to "test" whether it is feasible or not? Should we not at least make a earnest effort - I think if we are successful, it will be well worth it. If not, at least we have tried.
annis wrote:
mfranks wrote:There are challenges and obsticles - none greater that the fact that audio files,
I'd say the audio files themselves are low down the list of obstacles. We need people who have made a study of the scholarship on ancient pronunciation, who can explain this work somehow, can navigate the disuputes to produce a reasonable model for people to pronounce and explain that navigation, can then explain the tricky bits to beginners, record sound samples of good quality and with good and consistent enunciation starting with phonemes before working up to words, phrases and sentences. Finally, we need to find people with the time to do all this right, which includes the technical end.
I've been amazed at the willingness of people in the "Classicist Community" who go out of their way to assist others in their pursuit of learning Greek & Latin. I have written a number of author's of Text Books, Professors, etc. All of whom have written me back promptly and have been very encouraging in my studies and have gone out of their way to help me. This includes several members of TextKit - including yourself. I can only think of one "snob" in all my dealings with Classicists. I believe that people in this community can be recruited for such an effort and would be willing to assist - it seems to be in thier nature. Perhaps I am naive...
annis wrote:Web pages for a basic introduction to the reconstructed pronunciation of Greek is on my list of things to do, but low down that list. The population of people interested in Greek and Latin is small. Of that population, I'd say those concerned about how they pronounce these languages is proprtionately small.
Maybe, just maybe, the reason the so-called individuals who don't care to pronounce the ancient languages "correctly" because, like me, they are frustracted with the lack of resources and consistency and unlike someone like myself, throw thier hands in the air and give up because they wish to move on and learn to "read" and "understand" the language they are studying and pronunciation just isn't the biggest priority for them. In my case, I feel I can't "move" on until I feel confortable and confident in making sure I pronounce the language properly - call me anal!

Regardless of which camp you fall in - I believe everyone benefits from having the resources necessary for learning to pronounce the ancient languages properly - if we make it easier, more people, I suspect, would pay greater attention to making the effort to pronounce these languages "correctly."

With Great Respect & Warm Wishes,

Mark

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Re: Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Libra

Post by annis » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:02 pm

mfranks wrote:If this is the case, why not make an effort to move forward with having an audio library? Obviously, if it has been suggested several times before, there is a need worth pursuing - inspite of the obsticles you mention.
There is no doubt at all that there is a need worth pursuing, and not only for the reasons you give here. But you have wandered into a large pet peeve of mine.

Textkit is entirely volunteer run. Those Textkit regulars inclined to volunteer their minds and their time are already doing so, if not always in ways visible on this forum, such as the beginner study groups. Several of those people also have projects of their own which advance the cause of auto-didactic classicism, and all of them have families, jobs and probably want to spend a little time with their friends. In the case of the American men, as Episcopus has discerned, time with whiskey and guns is not merely a desideratum but a requirement. The people who would be involved in the production of an audio library are already doing things for Textkit.

We don't need any more good ideas for projects to help students of Greek and Latin — we have those in spades. We need volunteers with the knowledge and the time to do the work.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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Post by Lucus Eques » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:44 pm

I understand your initial objections, Will, or rather concerns, but I think Mark's point is that the infrastructure is what needs to be established. A meager contribution from each of the learned members in classical pronunciation would produce a fine start to such an Audio Library, as Mark suggests. I think the idea is a great one; I have numerous recordings of my own that I make for my car rides; I wouldn't mind contributing some portion of those, except that we lack the means of publicizing them.

I don't believe Mark suggests to initiate an active project, but more of a passive library, quite litterally, so that at any time pronunciation-concious members such as myself might donate a recording to share with others. It could even be a forum (in the more abstract sense) to practice and get help on pronunciation from others in the open, since these simple letters are so feable in conveying the verbal meaning that we are seeking to better understand in the first place.
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Re: Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Libra

Post by mfranks » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:13 am

annis wrote:
mfranks wrote:If this is the case, why not make an effort to move forward with having an audio library? Obviously, if it has been suggested several times before, there is a need worth pursuing - inspite of the obsticles you mention.
We don't need any more good ideas for projects to help students of Greek and Latin — we have those in spades. We need volunteers with the knowledge and the time to do the work.
A comment like this is a bit over the top... and rather disappointing, especially coming from you, Will. If you "guys" don't need any more "good ideas", why not just close this "Advisory Board"?
Lucus Eques wrote:I understand your initial objections, Will, or rather concerns, but I think Mark's point is that the infrastructure is what needs to be established. A meager contribution from each of the learned members in classical pronunciation would produce a fine start to such an Audio Library, as Mark suggests.
Yes, thank you Lucas. I'm not suggesting a "huge" project that will require several "man-hours"... I'm simply asking to enable the infrastructure necessary for individuals to make contributions to start an audio library." I'm not suggesting we "build Rome in a day..." :-)

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Re: Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Libra

Post by annis » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:41 am


William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Re: Expanding the Scope of Textkit: Building an Audio Libra

Post by mfranks » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:52 am

annis wrote: Who will manage the infrastructure? If it's a team effort, who will be responsible for the care and feeding of what would be in essence a web file system, since standard tools for that are targeted by an army of spam bozos?
I would be happy to volunteer for the "care and feeding" or any of the recruiting and facilitating required.

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Post by mfranks » Wed Apr 12, 2006 6:38 pm

So what is necessary to more forward with this? I'm willing to drive, if someone will hand me the keys, sort of speak... :-)

Will,

Are you the "key-master"? Or is there a "Board of Trustees" where you are but one of the members of the Board? We can chat "off-line" regarding this... Send me an email (mfranks@msn.com) and we'll go from there.

Thanks,

Mark

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Post by annis » Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:18 am

mfranks wrote:So what is necessary to more forward with this?
Talking to Jeff, our illustrious leader, would be the necessary first step. Be warned he has the least free time of all of us.
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Post by pjj1020 » Fri Apr 14, 2006 2:17 pm

I like the idea! It would be very helpful to me in my leraning of Latin!

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Post by bellum paxque » Wed Aug 23, 2006 4:29 am

It'salready happening. Can we make it an official part of textkit, so that the files will be more accessible and so that there will be more room for those interested? Should the discussion take place here or there?

viewtopic.php?p=50452#50452
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Post by Hu » Wed Aug 23, 2006 2:29 pm

There, I suppose- this thread's kind of old. But making a new thread would probably be the best idea.

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Post by Jeff Tirey » Fri Sep 15, 2006 2:29 pm

I'm sorry I'm joining this conversation so late. I have read this thread in the past but only now feel prepared to engage this topic with my full attention.

development, disk space, bandwidth - none of that is the issue. My greatest concern is who on earth makes the audio recordings and how can we accept those recordings as authoritive - I cannot do this. So it's an uncomfortable position for me to be in where I'm responsible for content that I don't have the skills to evaluate.

For me to feel assured, I would need involvement from the academic community. I would want to have recordings from experienced and credentialed educators and have agreement on those recordings from their peers.

So, I agree with you that it's a great idea but to move this forward it's going to take a gadfly with a whole lot of gumption to seek these individuals out and get the project rolling.

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Post by bellum paxque » Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:34 pm

Jeff,

What if textkit does not present the audio recordings as in any way "authoritative" but rather as the best attempts of learners of the language to reproduce that language in all of the vigor of speech? In my opinion, having even a mediocre audio recording readily accessible to everyone interested in learning Latin or Greek is far better than having none at all! And indeed, many of the recordings already posted in the "audio" thread are far from mediocre (making no claims for my own recordings, which leaves much to be desired). Besides, the current web resources for spoken Latin and Greek are scattered, scanty, and of inconsistent quality. By making an interactive, regularly updated archive of audio recordings, we could both encourage a wider selection and quantity of recording and promote criticism and correction and even revision of those efforts.

The way that I envision an audio section here at textkit, it wouldn't be an experts gallery providing the definitive renderings of spoken Latin and Greek, but rather a learners forum for those who know a fair amount about the pronunciation of the language but want to learn more. Incidentally, it would be a great tool for those beginners in Latin and Greek who aren't able to record on their own yet but are eager to find recordings to listen to as they read and learn. And if the section proves as active as the "Audio" thread currently is (in fact, the most active thread in the history of the Latin forum!), there should be no lack of constructive criticism.

You're right: who can find the authorities willing or interested in such recordings, aside from the ones who already have recordings available online? And who make the authorities crank out more audio recordings without any extra incentive? Why not let those who have the interest and the motivation share their work through this website, provided that they make no claims to perfection?

Cicero declaiming with a few false quantities beats a mute Cicero any day.

Respectfully,

David
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Post by Hu » Sat Sep 16, 2006 2:48 pm

jeff wrote:My greatest concern is who on earth makes the audio recordings and how can we accept those recordings as authoritive - I cannot do this. So it's an uncomfortable position for me to be in where I'm responsible for content that I don't have the skills to evaluate.

For me to feel assured, I would need involvement from the academic community. I would want to have recordings from experienced and credentialed educators and have agreement on those recordings from their peers.
Well, as I'm sure you know, "authoritative" with regard to Latin pronunciation is a somewhat sketchy thing. I'd say all of us have been relying on books like Allen's and Sturtevant's rather than any scholar's advice. I'm not aware of any researcher working in the field of ancient phonology, but I'll try to look around and see if there are any people who are knowledgable.

From there, we'd need to contact them and ask if they might be interested in working on such a project. Who knows- they might be waiting for just such an opportunity to publicize their research.
bellum paxque wrote:What if textkit does not present the audio recordings as in any way "authoritative" but rather as the best attempts of learners of the language to reproduce that language in all of the vigor of speech? In my opinion, having even a mediocre audio recording readily accessible to everyone interested in learning Latin or Greek is far better than having none at all!
Optime vero. Bad (I'd say "not quite perfect" would be more likely for us, though) recordings are better than none at all. I especially like the idea of giving feedback; maybe we could have an audio-only forum for such a purpose.
You're right: who can find the authorities willing or interested in such recordings, aside from the ones who already have recordings available online? And who make the authorities crank out more audio recordings without any extra incentive? Why not let those who have the interest and the motivation share their work through this website, provided that they make no claims to perfection?

Cicero declaiming with a few false quantities beats a mute Cicero any day.
I think Jeff's quite justified concern is that the recordings might reflect badly on Textkit if their quality is poor. Textkit is a fantastic resource for learning Latin and Greek at no charge, as well as providing readers, commentaries, and composition books for more advanced learners. I think what he's asking is to get reassurance from those working in the field of Latin phonology (esp. its practical implementation) that we're doing it right. People with their own websites can put anything on them that they want, and have no particular reputation at stake. Textkit does not have this luxury.

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Post by bellum paxque » Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:08 am

I think Jeff's quite justified concern is that the recordings might reflect badly on Textkit if their quality is poor. Textkit is a fantastic resource for learning Latin and Greek at no charge, as well as providing readers, commentaries, and composition books for more advanced learners. I think what he's asking is to get reassurance from those working in the field of Latin phonology (esp. its practical implementation) that we're doing it right. People with their own websites can put anything on them that they want, and have no particular reputation at stake. Textkit does not have this luxury.
Yes, of course. And this is why I emphasized the presentation. This website provides forums, after all, for those interested in help with Latin and Greek. Are all of the responses provided perfectly accurate? Are we "authorities" in the professional sense on the language? No, of course not! All of us, and especially myself (note the recent thread about consecutive clauses) make mistakes, sometimes big ones. Yet these mistakes do not compromise the quality of the website because 1) the forums are self-correcting, that being the nature of forums frequented by knowledgeable and helpful people, and 2) they do not claim to be more than they are--they do not presume to be perfect so no one assumes to judge them as such.
I especially like the idea of giving feedback; maybe we could have an audio-only forum for such a purpose.
I think the format would have to be something like a forum in order to allow feedback, editing, and updates. I'm not sure, though, how audio files could be uploaded through such means. Perhaps the audio upload mechanism would be separate from the forum, which would be used only to host the comments that then link to the file location? There might also be a "sticky" thread, regularly updated by the forum moderators, that could contain a global list of all the files currently available. There might also be another sticky with a growing list of all the other Latin audio resources available online (vive voce, Laura Gibbs' best Latin, etc.).

Respectfully,

David
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Post by Lucus Eques » Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:08 pm

I agree, David; the quæst for Latin or Ancient Greek speech is one of never-ending self-improvement, but an extremely worthy goal nonetheless. David, you said correctly that we essentially need a forum centred around audio recordings. I believe much of what is going on now in the Audio thread is exactly what we wish to see, just in a more accessible form. Right now it's hard to find those files or who made them or where they are in a certain page of the thread. Having them located in one spot, with links to their respective commentaries, would greatly simplify matters, and thusly allow new members, or even old ones, to return to those audio files weeks or months later, bearing new information, and then add more commentary, maybe even more audio recordings of their own either to support or to challenge prævious assertions. Not only is a forum self-correcting, it is self-improving, for we all gain greatly from the sharing.
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Post by Jeff Tirey » Mon Sep 18, 2006 2:31 pm

ok, I see your points and I'm feel more comfortable if the audio content is not presented as "Textkit Contest" like the downloads and tutorials, but rather as a Textkit user area where site visitors create an account/profile and then can upload and manage audio with public commentary.

If this can be seen as a workshop so that visitors clearly understand that not everything is perfect.. and perhaps just plain wrong... then I'm in.

We need now to develop the details of how this tool will work.


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Post by Kopio » Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:36 am

I'd certainly be intrested in doing some Koine readings, especially since it wouldn't be viewed as authoritative. I have plenty of New Testament verses memorized that I would feel comfortable reciting (they made us memorize them in school in Greek).

I think as long as the forum is clearly marked as "Textkit User, contributions", with the usual legal type lingo, "the views expressed in this forum do not necessarily reflect the Textkit Website...kinda like the disclaimer they put on TV shows that are somewhat controversial....I think that would be great. Even a name like...Textkit User Audio Forum...would give that sort of impression...with a big sticky up top that says the aforementioned blurb....I think it's a great idea.

I think that it would also be worth noting, especially in the case of Greek files...that Greek pronunciation is something that is hotly debated in scholarly circles (as it has been in these forums), and that individual files are simply an interpretation of how the author of said file believes the language should be pronounced. It also might be worth having a couple of our more learned scholars here (who would be willing to spend the time) listen to and approve audio files, so we don't end up with really crappy files....but that would take volunteers, and volunteers who are objective enough to take into consideration the current different scholarly pronunciations. I would be willing to review Koine files if no one else steps up to the plate...but classical is wholly outside my realm, especially when you have verse in meter (I totally suck at reading in meter).

Those are the only things that I think would be helpful in establishing an audio forum, that although it wouldn't be perfect, would still be quite respectable.

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Post by bellum paxque » Fri Sep 22, 2006 3:33 am

Jeff said:
If this can be seen as a workshop so that visitors clearly understand that not everything is perfect.. and perhaps just plain wrong... then I'm in.

We need now to develop the details of how this tool will work.
Yes, details!

I guess some important questions, as mentioned by annis toward the beginning of the thread, include

1) Who will be in charge of this thing?
2) Who will take care of the technical details likethe uploading mechanism?
3) Where will the audio section be located?
a) as a subsection of the forum? (this is where my vote goes)
b) in a separate section of the website?
4) Who gets to upload audio files?
a) anyone?
b) people who prove that they are responsible, serious, and
trustworthy?
5) How will the files be organized?
a) if via a forum
i) then separate posts for each author?
ii) a big sticky post for the overall catalogue of available files,
organized by author?
iii) separate posts for each recording?
b) if via a separate part of the webpage
i) by user?
ii) by author?

These are just some prompts to start discussion. Most important, I guess, we need people not only who can provide ideas but who also can implement them. Helpers, in other words.

So who's willing to help?

Count me in.

David
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Post by Hu » Fri Sep 22, 2006 1:27 pm

Ego volo juvare vos in hac re.

On your fourth question, bellumpaxque, I think this willl be sort of a self-help area (according to Jeff's last post), so I'd say anyone can register and upload files for us to provide help on pronunciation. We could also set up Skype sessions if anyone would prefer that to a response in the forum.

On file organization, I think a webpage might work best. We could have a search mechanism to find files by both author and user to make things easier for everyone (since some people might want to find recordings of a particular author).

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