Another Amusing Tale of Automatic Transcription

I had a ‘blast from the past’ call today – a client who I worked with about six or seven years ago on one small film transcription project, but who hasn’t needed any transcripts since then.

For the first time in ages he needed some transcripts so he decided that the world had moved on in the last seven years and he would try one of the automatic transcription packages now available.

I’m sure the fact that he phoned me, not to mention the fact that I’m blogging about it, gives you an idea where this is going, but to cut a long story short he said that while the results were ‘entertaining’ they were less than useful. The recordings were made in the Midlands, and were talking exclusively about the Midlands, and yet according to the transcript there was quite some chat about Rome and some of its major tourist attractions. Perhaps even more worryingly, one of the sedate town dignitaries being interviewed, according to the transcript, talked in some depth about ‘kissing passionately’ which my client assures me he has no memory of!

And so, back to the old reliable!

I was very pleased to hear from him, particularly as I’d had a bit of a down morning when another returning client found herself unable to ‘sign on the dotted line’ even though she wanted to use us because she knew we provided fast turnarounds and high quality transcripts, because her departmental administrator had a slightly cheaper transcriber on the books – quality unknown, turnaround definitely slower! It makes you wonder when administrators came to rule universities rather than lecturers and professors! The irony is that it will probably mean my client (ex-client?) has to spend far longer a) waiting for and b) correcting transcripts, so the university won’t gain in the end. Her quantity of research will be impacted if she wastes time on this, which in the long run will impact the university’s research output.

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