Re: Transcribe Podcasts to text

Subject: Re: Transcribe Podcasts to text
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 15 May 2012 07:05:16 -0400

On Tue, 15 May 2012 06:02:47 -0400, Phil Snow Leopard <philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com> wrote:

I'd be fascinated to know if there's anything that can do
[the transcription] very accurately.

In my own experience the best device is a technical writer who is a good typist. I was doing some work for a software dev fellow who wanted me to make written articles out of his training and promotional videos. Initially he planned that his receptionist, a good typist, would do the typing, while I would stick to rewriting the transcriptions into well-constructed articles.

It turned out to be more effective for me to do it all. I can transcribe twenty minutes of technical material in about two or three hours, a rate that astonished me and my client. Two benefits resulted from this approach. (1) We avoided the introduction of errors, the kind in which a technical word or phrase is mis-transcribed into an incorrect meaning that is however spelled correctly. (2) My repeated viewing of the video itself gave me a better understanding of the material, so that I could later convey it effectively in print.

I did not use anything to slow down the speech, but simply replayed each part over and over as needed. I even inserted time stamps every few minutes to make it easier to check the accuracy of the transcription.

The opposite of this method can be performed either by software or by a poor typist. Both can handily generate almost-plausible nonsense. The silliest example I ever encountered was a story I heard from another tech writer who had to work from some "pre-transcribed" material taken from a recording dictated by a physicist. The typist had no comprehension of spoken mathematics. The physicist's words, "P sub s," which we might code in HTML as P<sub>s</sub>, were transmogrified into piece of ass.

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