PimpMyNews: Make Blogs Talk

I have been experimenting a bit with PimpMyNews, an Xzibitly named service that allows users to create a feed list of blogs, news and other selected sources and listen to that content over the web or on an iPhone, iPod Touch or other mobile device that can play MP3s.  While this is a pretty handy tool for anyone, I think it’s greatest potential may be as an accessibility device.

Let’s take a look.

According to co-founder John Atkinson, PimpMyNews, which launched its first generation platform in 2008, “puts consumers in control by automatically collecting the news and blogs they wish they had time to read – and converting them to audio – so they can listen while doing other things, like driving, working out, riding the train and more.”  The service allows users to choose from over 1,200 sources to create personalized audio playlists, and to share that content with friends via email or on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg and other social networking sites.

Once you’ve completed the quick registration process, and clicked on the expected email confirmation link, you can easily create playlist of feeds.  You can start with a pre-selected group of feeds via a “FastPack” or you can browse the available feeds and create your own mix.  There are FastPacks for Apple, Entertainment, Politics, Sports and Technology.  At present, you can’t add feeds to your playlist that aren’t already available in the various PimpMyNews categories.  If the ability to add new feeds is ever added, it would be cool if you could also import OPML files exported from your feed reader.

But there are plenty of feeds available to get you started.  After you have your initial feed mix set up, you can access your playlist via the My Account tab at the top of page and you’re off and listening.

The audio conversion is excellent, with the read text sounding about as natural as can be expected.  I like the fact that you get an assortment of voices.  Here’s a sample of how it sounds.  Note that you can view the text by hovering over the View Summary link.

Once you have your playlist set up, you’ll want to enable your podcast so you can listen on the road.  Click the set up link, and add the content from your playlist you want to include (which can be all the feeds or just some of them).  Click the save button, and you’re presented with a one-click button to subscribe in iTunes and a link to use to subscribe elsewhere.  Here’s my feeds podcast link if you’re interested.

You can rate posts and share them easily, via the handy buttons at the bottom of the View Summary pop-up box.

And, of course, there’s an iPhone app (iTunes link).  A Blackberry app is forthcoming.

I’ll be using the iPhone app this weekend as I run errands and do my chores.  As noted above, I also think people with accessibility issues could find PimpMyNews very useful.  I can’t wait to see what new features are added in the coming months  There are lots and lots of cool possibilities.

And the best thing is, now I can make those so-called A-List bloggers talk to me, whether they want to or not!