– Bought back my own time

In the last couple of months, for various projects, I’ve been interviewing people and recording those interviews for later transcription. Some transcription I’ve done on my own. For every minute of audio, it takes me four to eight minutes to transcribe the dialogue. An hour-long recording could take as many as eight hours to turn a conversation into material for an article or data for a qualitative study. I had a handful of those.

Recently, I wrote about a digital recorder that has been a handy tool in those interviews and a play-back app that makes transcribing more efficient. Now I’d like to give a shout-out to CastingWords, a web-based transcription service. I uploaded .WMA files to their site, chose the 6-day, $1.50 per minute option, and crossed my fingers. In two days, my first transcription arrived in my mailbox. Within six days, the whole order was complete.

I’ve been going through the transcripts. Hooray! They are high quality and accurately capture the text of what was said, as well as the little touches in timing and fillers (“um, yeah”) that turned each digital file into the record of a conversation.

If, like me, you’re ever in a situation where you want to buy back some of your own time (I paid about $340 to conserve about 30 hours of my own time) and subcontract tape transcription to specialists, I highly recommend the staff (really, Mechanical Turk Workers) at CastingWords. The output is excellent, and the manner of doing business with them — entirely via the web — was efficient.


Parking meter image by Lance McCord via Flickr and creativecommons.org.

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