A brief look at Amazon mTurk indicates that you'd probably get a pretty low skill-level at the
task-pay scales listed. However, given global economics, perhaps the results are adequate.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "W. C. Swofford" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 10:39 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Transcription/Close Captioning Software for Oral History Recordings
>I direct your attention to the Casting Words website which provides transcriptions using the
>Amazon mTurk program.
> I have had good experiences with it. The audio is sent to Casting Words and for a flat fee (per
> minute of recording) they distribute the transcription process to thousands of Amazon mTurk
> participants who then transcribe small pieces of the recording. The transcriptions they produce
> are then checked for accuracy by repeating the process.
> I would highly recommend this company and the service is both professional and affordable.
> will swofford
> On Jul 30, 2008, at 9:05 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Here's two cents from someone who has worked with transcriptions of conferences and interviews
>> for two decades now ...
>> There is no automated way to accurately transcribe the human conversation yet. Even a human
>> transcriber is usually highly inaccurate (at least at first) unless they were present at the
>> time of recording. We have used a professional court reporter for years to do our conference
>> and interview transcriptions and she is just fine with the 85% or so that is common language and
>> words, but she often mangled the 15% that is colloquial (sp?) or industry-specific or
>> heavily-accented -- but since she is a human she has improved impressively over several years.
>> I've experimented with IBM and Dragon software and even got a friend who used to work at IBM
>> labs to run some material through their most advanced software and the accuracy is worse than
>> our faithful court reporter. By the time you sit and edit all the mistakes and fix the
>> punctuation and grammer, it's taken almost as long as if you just had transcription skills and
>> typed out the whole thing yourself.
>> I would suggest, for a large institution, or even a medium-sized one that can get some funding,
>> rather than pour tons of dollars into computers and software, best to find a skilled transcriber
>> like a court reporter looking for part-time extra work. Bring this person to your facility and
>> teach them about what you are doing. Listen to a few tapes with them and let them ask questions
>> about the content, accents, topics, etc. Give them a tryout and see how accurate they are.
>> There will be a point where you find the perfect person. I should also say that we've had good
>> luck working with our court reporter teaching her better punctuation and grammar practices,
>> which she said has made her a hit with the lawyer community and gotten her better gigs from them
>> too. Also, over time, she is more familiar with our industry and is making fewer and fewer
>> howlers with industry-specific language. The last set of trascriptions she did of long on-stage
>> interviews from one of our conferences, the editing time was so much shorter than the first few
>> that we noticed and paid her a bonus for saving us time.
>> One man's experiences ...
>> -- Tom Fine
>> PS -- no reason a professional transcriber couldn't also learn how to enter metadata information
>> to go with the transcription.
>> PPS -- in case it's not painfully obvious, I'm saying human ALWAYS beats machine if any sort of
>> skill or nuance is required! Transcribing human conversation is a great example of skill and
>> nuance, more so if the recording quality is not top-notch.
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Andy Kolovos" <[log in to unmask]
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 7:49 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Transcription/Close Captioning Software for Oral History Recordings
>>> Depends on what you mean by "time-stamped". If you want to basically do your own
>>> "Docsoft-style" thing, you got me. If you want to transcribe with a system that will allow you
>>> to manually add accurate time codes into the text, we've been using Start- Stop. Express
>>> Scribe might do this as well, but our transcriptionist greatly prefers Start Stop to Express
>>> Scribe. Still, I get the impression that you're trying to do something else here.
>>> The Docsoft system seems interesting, but looks expensive and proprietary--all the same, I
>>> hadn't encountered it before so I appreciate the reference.
>>> Have you posted this to the OHA oral history list?
>>> Markus Wust wrote:
>>>> <div class="moz-text-flowed" style="font-family: -moz-fixed">Dear list members,
>>>> I am looking into using transcription or close captioning software (e.g., Docsoft) to create
>>>> time-stamped transcripts of oral history recordings. Are you, or do you know someone who is
>>>> using such an application for this purpose? If so, what has been your experience?
>>>> Thank you,
>>>> Markus Wust
>>>> Digital Collections and Preservation Librarian
>>>> North Carolina State University
>>> Andy Kolovos
>>> Vermont Folklife Center
>>> 88 Main Street
>>> Middlebury, VT
>>> (802) 388-4964 [voice]
>>> (802) 388-1844 [fax]