Wikipedia to record notable voices for future generations

27 Jan 2014

In Wikipedia’s continuing goal to be the largest centre of free information on the internet, the site has asked celebrities and notable people from across the world to have their voice recorded for future generations.

The project, known as the Wikipedia voice intro project (WikiVIP) has nearly 40 contributors in English so far, including actor and comedian Stephen Fry, who sent a recording of himself saying his name, where he was from and what he does.

The project was proposed and founded by one of Wikipedia’s editors, Andy Mabbet, otherwise known as user Pigsonthewing, who will be working with both Wikipedia and the BBC for a joint audio recording project.

This will make it the first time in history that the BBC has allowed licensed content to be made freely available on the internet.

An aural understanding of history

As part of the project, Wikipedia asks celebrities, scientists, and academics, among others, to make short recordings of their voice, lasting around 10 seconds or so.

The recordings are then uploaded to the article so Wikipedia’s readers know what they sound like and how to correctly pronounce their names.

Once the audio is uploaded, editors will begin transcribing and adding timed text captions to the clips.

So far, there have been a number of notable contributors, including inventor of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, human rights advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, and Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke.

On its blog post, the team is calling on members of the public who know people Wikipedia articles are written about to contribute their own recordings to make a more interactive learning experience.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic