Make a Record: An Argument for Transcription
Although transcription is frequently viewed as a tool for reporters and journalists, thinkers, writers, and professionals of all kinds can benefit from integrating transcription methods into their production practices.
For thinkers, writers, and professionals, a transcription habit creates an accurate record of conversations, interviews, presentations, and (perhaps) podcast-inspired soliloquies. The resulting archive stabilizes moments otherwise lost to time, making them available for regenerative reflection and exploration.
This is important for thinkers and writers, who frequently require inspiration for pitching or developing projects. But it’s also helpful for communications professionals, who benefit from casting a wide net when building and refining best practices.
While transcription once mandated an at-least doubled time investment (first, to listen to the interview or the presentation; then, to listen again and write it down; then, to listen again, to figure out what was missed the first and second times), there are now a variety of time-saving automated services.
The Open Notebook recently reported on the new automated transcription services, like Otter, Trint, Temi, and Sonix, favored by science journalists.
The automated services offer benefits, particularly in terms of price and turnaround time, and I like the Trint app’s seamless interface for nonspecialized projects. However, I use Rev when I require professional transcription services (typically when writing white papers with subject matter-expert interviews). Automated transcription is faster and cheaper than Rev’s $1/minute, 12-hour (max) turnaround, but Rev often catches the specialized language usage missed by automated services.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the time spent transcribing the old-fashioned, incredibly time-consuming way is not time wasted. Listening to and writing down recordings is a meditative practice: It focuses the mind, but it also frees it to discover moments and insights unobserved in real-time.