Crowd-Sourced Audio Transcription


Journalist/programmer Andy Baio had a problem: he had recorded a half-hour telephone interview, but didn't want to spend hours transcribing it to text so he could post it on his blog. If you've ever transcribed audio to text, you know it's laborious and time-consuming -- just no fun at all. There are online transcription services, but they're expensive. So what did Baio do?

Bracing for a good four or five hours of rewinding and writing and rewinding, I remembered that this is The Future! So, instead, I tossed the job over to the global anonymous workforce at Amazon Mechanical Turk instead. The result: my 36-minute recording was transcribed while I slept, in less than three hours, for a grand total of $15.40. This is a fraction of the cost/time of any other transcription service online, including the Turk-driven Casting Words, though you potentially sacrifice some quality. In my experience, though, there were virtually no errors. Here's how to do it yourself, with no programming knowledge required. The instructions below are verbose, but using my template, it shouldn't take you more than five minutes of setup per job.

Read the rest to learn how Baio harnessed the power of online workers to transcribe his interview -- while he slept. You can also read the interview itself, which is with the director of Code Rush, a documentary previously mentioned on this very blog.