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March 27, 2007 » 12:26 am

CastingWords Transcription Service

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over the past 20 years, so I’m intimately familiar with the technology and the trials and tribulations of transcription. Not surprisingly, the advances in recording technology have been phenomenal. I have hundreds of dollars of high quality recording equipment, all of which would have cost thousands of dollars even five years ago. Sadly, the advances in transcription technology have not kept up. Until recently, your best bet was to find a good stenographer, which would have cost you more than a pretty penny.    (M1P)

I recently heard about CastingWords from a post Beth Kanter made to the riders-talk mailing list, and I was immediately intrigued. CastingWords uses Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk to farm out transcriptions to people all over the world. It’s a classic case of applying rudimentary technology in a clever, useful way. It’s also incredibly cheap. The basic transcription cost is $0.75 a minute of recording time. Many transcriptionists charge per minute of transcription time, which is usually at least four times the length of the transcription.    (M1Q)

As it so happens, I’m doing some work right now that requires transcriptions, so I decided to give it a shot. Usability is a breeze, from upload to payment to picking up the transcriptions. Turnaround time for all of my interviews (all less than an hour long) was less than 24 hours. And the quality of the transcriptions were top-notch. Quite simply, CastingWords is an amazing service.    (M1R)

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