Wikipedia adding voice recordings to famous people’s pages

Online knowledge store Wikipedia has announced plans to store audio clips on the biography pages of famous people. The idea is that future generations will be able to hear the luminaries in question, as well as read details of their lives and works.

The Wikipedia Voice Intro Project (WikiVIP) was launched with the help of author and actor Stephen Fry, who recorded a sample of his speech that you can now hear on his Wikipedia page. Anyone deemed notable enough to have an entry in the community-driven encyclopaedia is being asked to simply say their name and a few key facts about themselves and upload the audio.

Visitors to these biography pages can then hear for themselves what the people in question sound like and learn how their names are pronounced. As the years go by, WikiVIP ensures that we retain records of how well-known individuals talked, although for the more famous people there’s likely to be a wealth of other digital material left behind as well.

Head over to the Wikimedia blog to read more about WikiVIP and how it works. “You can help the Wikipedia voice intro project by asking people you know who are the subject of Wikipedia articles to make recordings of their voices in any language in which they’re comfortable (the project is not just for English speakers),” runs the post. “You can also help to transcribe the existing files into timed text captions.”

The idea for the project was dreamt up by Wikipedia editors Andy Mabbett and Andrew Gray. On his website, Mabbett writes: “We discussed recordings of music, industrial and everyday sounds (what does a printing press sound like? Or a Volkswagen Beetle? What do different kinds of breakfast cereal sound like when milk is added?), as well as people’s voices, so that we have a record of what they sound like.”

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