Once in a while, a listener will write in to Studio 360 asking for a transcript of a story we’ve broadcast. Unfortunately, we don’t have transcripts of the shows (it’s just too time consuming and we have a very small staff), so we normally direct our listeners to the free streaming audio and mp3 downloads available on our website.
Last week, however, we noticed an unusual feature of the WNYC web site (our home station) – an automatic transcript generator. This sounds dull, but bear with us. The automated transcript generator listens to each week’s show and, through what we can only assume is a very complex bit of speech-recognition wizardry, produces a written transcript. One caveat – it warns that the transcript “may not be 100% accurate.”
And, no, it’s not 100% accurate. But as with Google’s translator, the mistakes can be entertaining.
At the beginning of last week’s show, bestselling author George Dawes Green says: “I love the fact that I write thrillers – mean, I just love that word, I love the effrontery of it.” According the auto transcription: “I love the fact that I write thrillers and I just love that word I love the front Korea.”
Then, where Kurt says, “if you spent ten years on one of the best sitcoms ever, like Lisa Kudrow, you’d think you’d have a favorite episode,” the transcription writes: “if you spend ten years on one of the best sitcoms ever likely to cool growth you think you’d have a favorite episode.” Phew, glad all that growing has cooled off since we started watching “Friends”!
Now, it may be asking too much to expect the transcription software to know Lisa Kudrow’s name. Still, the auto-transcriber did a pretty good job here – only a missed word or two. But perhaps our favorite auto-transcription mayhem turned up in the story about Andy Warhol’s soup cans (broadcast 8/8/09). At the beginning of the piece, we hear a series of voices tell us their favorite soup can. Here’s what the auto-transcriber made of it: “Chicken news disorders like excellent Ottawa spirals came out mansion. It’s going to be two minute.”
(Listen to the original here:)
– Matt Frassica