Monday, March 19, 2012

CastingWords for podcast transcriptions

With my recent podcasting ramp up, I decided that I wanted to add transcripts. Podcasts are all well and good--and a lot of folks genuinely like to consume interviews that way--but others would just as soon read. And, of course, there are search-ability advantages to a text version as well.
Now I wasn't about to do this myself. Transcribing takes a fair bit of time even for a fast touch typist with the right gear (which I am not and don't have). So, I asked and Googled around and decided to give an outfit called CastingWords a shot.
You can see the results here. I only did some very light editing--mostly for formatting in the blog post (changing some paragraph breaks and the like). All the technical language, even non-inutitive stuff like spelling "Basel" correctly, was handled flawlessly as was the random capitalization that afflicts so many IT industry terms like JBoss. To be sure, I gave them a well-edited and audible file to work with, but the results are nonetheless top-notch.
Pricing for 6-day turnaround was $1.50 per minute of podcast time. (My only--minor--beef with the service was that they took about 7 days. Not a big deal.)
The behind-the-scenes at CastingWords is quite interesting. They have a workflow that leverages Amazon's Mechanical Turk, splitting audio files into chunks and having them worked on by both transcribers and "editors." The idea is that there's a system of checks to ensure a quality finished product. (This also means that the cost is doubtless higher than if you were to just use Mechanical Turk on your own, but presumably you get a more consistent result. For my purposes, CastingWords' price is low enough that it's not worth spending much time to shave a few more cents.)
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