The Voice of Alex [CASE STUDY]

I’ve worked for this not-for-profit Association now for six years. Some people might get the (mistaken) impression NFPs are backwater or risk averse. My thinking is that’s plain rubbish. They’re what you make them.

I’m fortunate in that our executives are tinkerers and scientists… ie, not risk averse. They try stuff just to see what happens by their nature. So, when I came out with the first corporate podcast out of sleepy little Tulsa… there was an instant appetite revealed within our Association’s membership for more innovative stuff. We hopped onto RSS shortly after that. And most recently we’ve been circulating the abstracts of our peer reviewed journal as machine read text using none other than the voice of Alex.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

My granddad, Dave, was a terrific man. He passed away while Michelle and I were honeymooning in Puerto Vallarta (was that really 1991!?). He was every ounce a pioneer, bush pilot for Phillips66, and an all around amazing ham radio operator. When his eyesight failed him in the late 1980’s he began listening to his journals and periodicals on audio tape. His eyes and fingers couldn’t do what he wanted. But, his brain kept up with every development in his areas of interest.

So, it was natural for me to think of Grandpa Dave when Steve Jobs announced and demo’d the Alex voice at WWDC ’06. The Association has an aging demographic. Many of whom can’t read what they receive in the mail due to poor/failing eyesight. We also have a burgeoning younger demographic who consume VAST amounts of digital stuff. Alex came at just the right time. I’ve been recording the abstracts from our journal for over a year now. People LOVE it.

I simply wish there were more voices. For those who feel similarly… there IS Cepstral. But, their distribution licensing killed the go forward. I’m a bootstrapper by nature and couldn’t bear the idea of paying for something when an equally good, free alternative was available.

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