Day 13 : The Art and Science of Research in Transcription Work

computer and books for transcription research

Feel Free to Choose A Sub-Section of this Post
—————————————————————–
1. Random Thoughts on Transcription and Non-Transcription Related Issues
2. Daily Progress – Research Findings, Tasks and Skills Development
——————————————————————

Random Thoughts on Transcription and Non-Transcription Related Issues

Research is a very important element of the transcription process. Concepts, terms, and words often arise in audio and video files which are within the realm of specialized knowledge and can often only be deciphered through adequate research tactics. In addition, accuracy (in the form of the highest percentage of properly deciphered words in the recording) is often vital in terms of keeping clients content and continuing to use your services, or in the realm of more serious transcription work (legal and medical) errors can have serious (sometimes fatal) consequences to those people and/or organizations who are the subject of the content.

Transcriptionists often specialize in specific areas of subject matter (whether it be the more formal legal and medical transcription, or all other sources of audio/video which deal with jargon-dense knowledge such as computer technology, business projects, adventure sports, eclectic hobbies, debates on current controversial issues, etc.). The ability to research quickly and effectively can help you land a transcription job, keep it, and benefit from the knowledge of the subject matter contained in the recordings.

The good news is that research (especially the type done by utilizing the plethora of powerful and quickly-accessible online resources and tools) is a skill which can be developed (to as advanced a level as you desire). Advanced research skill is a valuable asset which can be applied to many areas of your intellectual, social and occupational endeavors. It increases your speed and efficiency at transcribing, as you will be better able to decipher technical words spoken in the files. This, of course, leads to faster completion of projects and thus the ability to do more projects in less time and earn more income. Advanced research skills also enable you to dig deeper into a subject, while also being able to determine the quality of the source of information.

In addition, along with some additional powerful free software tools, such as the free Evernote organization application – for collecting, organizing and processing your research – you can develop more long-term research projects which may culminate in publication of your knowledge in the form of blogging, book and ebook writing, podcasting, etc.

There are a few levels of research which apply most directly to the actual transcription task which I will cover in this post. I have already written a comprehensive post about the free WordWeb program, and will also be writing additional future posts about specific software programs (such as Evernote) which will expand on the general research strategies and concepts examined here. I will link those new posts as they are published (which should be within just the next few weeks).

The first level (or step) in the transcription research process begins when you encounter words or terms in an audio/video file which are either indecipherable (due to various factors such as : poor audio quality, strong speaker accent, foreign dialect, etc.) or are highly technical/specific to the subject of the audio. To illustrate this in the more extreme form, the reason why medical transcription work requires years of formal training and experience is due to the enormous vocabulary of medical terminology you must possess in order to adequately transcribe the files commonly worked on. While as a general transcriptionist you are more free to simply decline to work on a file which is overloaded with jargon, there are often times when you actually DESIRE to work on such files because the subject is interesting, but you are intimidated due to your lack of adequate specialized vocabulary. In addition, since most files (especially ones you accept from the online boards) have a deadline within hours of acceptance, if your research skills are not up to par you won’t have the time to do the minimum research needed to complete the file on time. This is where the ability to conduct fast and efficient research becomes important. If you can quickly get up to an ADEQUATE level of vocabulary and/or knowledge related to the subject to get through the file via your speedy research skills, you will be able to accept the file, complete it, get paid for it, and perhaps work on additional files related to that specific subject. Many online transcription companies have regular clients who produce podcasts on specialized subjects. If you can get through one of the episodes, you can then find that podcast online, listen to some additional episodes to get a better feel for the style and content, and apply your research skills to expand your vocabulary on the subject. You will then be more able to take on the next episode of that podcast which becomes available through the transcription company job board. It’s usually a rewarding experience to work on multiple episodes of a production, in addition to the fact that your transcription speed becomes faster with each episode as you are more familiar with the people, terms, etc.

The first tool I utilize from my transcription arsenal is WordWeb. When I come upon a word which is indecipherable, or whose definition, spelling and/or pronunciation is unfamiliar I first hit [CTRL + (right click)] to pull up the word (and/or related or rough estimates of the word). I have discussed the features and uses of WordWeb in its own post, so please refer here for more detailed directions. However, from the perspective of research, WordWeb is your first-line weapon in dealing with new words, terms, concepts, and subjects which arise in your transcription adventures. For instance, if you are working on an audio file related to a new book which will be published in the near future, and in the audio file you are able to use one or more WordWeb features to decipher the name of the author (and hopefully also the name of the book and other books and info related to the book and/or author) you can then follow up with the next step/level in the research process – which is to use the various online research tools (ex. search engines (Google), Wikipedia, personal web and/or social media sites of the author, etc.) to dig deeper into the subject.

This second level of research is more complex and allows you to obtain a vast amount of information on the subject. An excellent book which examines the depths of the online research world is titled “The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher” (sample copy) and I will be publishing a detailed review of this book in the near future. Although limiting your research techniques to the powerful services which are offered by Google (their search engine being just one of an array of helpful applications) you can fulfill most of your research needs, there is an extensive range of additional services and web applications which will enable you to take your research as far as you want to go with it.These include : web directories, portals, audio and video directories, academic research portals, and many others. I will elaborate on these in the future, but for now I can tell you, with confidence, that for essentially EVERY degree of research most transcriptionists (including those of use who engage in complementary pursuits, such as blogging) desire/need to do, most of it can be achieved using a handful of the basic (let’s call it “second level”) tools currently available and developed to a highly user-friendly level at this point.

The best way to explain this is probably to give you a nice little practical – but slightly fictitious – example, in order to not break any confidentiality agreements which transcriptionists are bound to. Since my main interest lies in podcasting and transcription I will create an example which will clearly explain the process and how easy it is to get from the point of discovering a new podcast production to researching that production to the point that you are well familiar with it and can take your research as far as you desire.
So, let’s say you are browsing the available job board of one of the online transcription companies, and you encounter a nice podcast file on a technological topic such as the cryptocurrency industry (ex. Bitcoin). You have a sample listen to the audio file and determine it is interesting and that you would like to transcribe  it. You accept the file and begin transcribing.
Now in this episode of the fictitiously-named podcast “The Cryptocurrency Revolution” the host interviews a prominent thought-leader and activist in the cryptocurrency world, such as Adam B. Levine. Now, as this is the first time you have heard of this person you start jotting down some notes as you (and/or after you) complete the transcript. Some of the most effective pieces of information to record are : the web site(s) and/or social media profiles of the guest, the names and details of their main work projects (especially podcasts and videos) and occupations, any personal details which especially resonate with you, any organizations and important people they are working with, etc. With just this kind of information – which is commonly made available in the general podcast format – you have enough data to do all the research you will need.
Once you have completed and submitted the transcription you can begin your follow up research on this newly discovered person. A good place to start is entering the person’s name in Google. This will give you a good general list of various resources (and types of resources) to get you started branching out. Since some people have fairly common names, it is often best to first check out their web site where they will have links to their specific (and official) social media profiles (as it is often difficult to pin someone down by manually entering their name in each social media search engine).
At this point I tend to follow through with the following general strategy. First, I create a new “notebook” in Evernote with this person’s name as the title. I then create a new “note” with a title such as “(Person’s Name) – resources)”. I add all of the data I have collected so far since doing the original transcription, including the URLs associated with the person – which is especially helpful since Evernote makes those links active in the notes and so you can click right through to them from within the note. I then begin working through the various resources in the Evernote file (and add additional notes to the file as things progress and I find more information and resources.
Basically, to get adequately up-to-speed with a person’s overall web presence, body of work, and initiating contact with them, I use a regular basic strategy. I begin checking out a few of their social media profiles. Their LinkedIn profile often provides the most valuable information about their professional and creative aspects of their life, as well as the most important contact information. I then follow up with their Facebook and Twitter profiles, which offer a more personal and casual information about the person and their interests. If I like the info I will “follow” their Facebook and Twitter profile in order to stay up to date on what they are doing as I continue researching them.
I then proceed to YouTube, which is the second (and usually final) major research tool needed to get enough information for follow up research into the future. I enter some of the keywords related to the person from the Evernote file. If this person is very active, the search query will return more than enough audio and/or video files to keep me busy for a while and get the adequate info on this person. The YouTube search is especially good for finding episodes of their actual podcast/videocast which I can then follow up on, evaluate and contact the person for potential transcription collaboration in the future.
So, with this relatively basic, but powerful, search strategy I am able to quickly (often in a matter of hours) find enough information about this person who I have newly discovered via a podcast transcription project which I was paid to do, to be able to become further familiar with them and eventually contact and collaborate with them in the future.
To be even more concrete, I used this very strategy to discover the excellent and prolific work of Adam B. Levine of the “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” network – www.letstalkbitcoin.com – and as a result of this discovery I have become an active contributor to his revolutionary open source community project, including some transcription work – one full transcript of which can be found here.
I will conclude the subject of transcription research her for now. More will be written on the subject – including related resources – as it becomes relevant into the future. For now, using the above research strategy should be MORE than enough for the research needs of most of the transcriptionists reading this.

Daily Progress – Research Findings, Tasks and Skills Development

In addition to integration the highly detailed basic research strategy into my daily routine, and consistently going through the daily research routine tasks mentioned in the last post, I have also been spending a bit more serious effort practicing on the one-minute transcription files along with reading through the style guide at TranscribeMe.

What I will say about these one-minute files is that usually offer a healthy bit of challenge to force me to improve both my transcription and research skills. One of the main benefits of the short files are that you can turn them over relatively quickly and so your time, energy and schedule are not tied down by longer files. You can jump in when you have a few minutes and complete a file and the move onto other important tasks.

The more challenging aspects of the system involve the fact that since the files are limited to one minute each, you generally don’t have much context with which to decipher words, terms, concepts, etc. which would be more easily done with longer files. On a positive note, this actually forces you to practice listening even more carefully, as well as developing and implementing quicker and more powerful research skills in order to find the bits of information you need to complete the file. Since there is also a shorter deadline on the file it is more important to increase your listening and research speed in this regard.

So, at this point I am finding it productive to spend a few weeks practicing on these one-minute files while I further concentrate on my research and blogging efforts (which consume a lot of time collectively). Working on the short TranscribeMe files allows me to get some good practice and make a little survival income while I continue building my empire.

As usual, this post is another post which is growing into a book and so I will conclude here. I am also busy working on several new “Free Transcript Project” files which will be rolling out (roughly one or two per week), which offers additional practice and content for this blog. In the next “daily diary” post we will further examine the nature of the online transcription industry companies and some of the cutting edge technology which is being applied to the transcription process.

Happy Transcribing!
freelance_transcriptionist@hotmail.com

————————————————————

Feel free to donate some Bitcoin to support the research and writing effort of this blog. Donate some Bitcoin to support the research and writing effort of this blog.

Free Transcript Project : #6

==========================================

Source video
—————-
Title : “Disruptive Leaps – “Let’s Talk Bitcoin – Episode #134”

URL : http://youtu.be/3bmeohism0g

Organization         : “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” Network :
Web Site                 : http://www.letstalkbitcoin.com/

Host 1                      : Adam B. Levine
Contact                  :  LinkedIn Profile , Email : adam@letstalkbitcoin.com

Host 2                     :  Andreas M. Antonopoulos
Contact                   : LinkedIn Profile
W
eb Site                 : http://www.antonopoulos.com/

Guest                       : Jeffrey Tucker
Contact                    : LinkedIn Profile
W
eb Site                  : http://www.liberty.me/

==========================================

Transcript

Announcer (Adam B. Levine) : Today is the 9th of August, 2014 and this is episode 134. This program is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Cryptocurrency is new, highly experimental, and we’re not experts – just obsessed companions, walking the road towards a more peer-to-peer future.

Adam B. Levine : Welcome to “Lets Talk Bitcoin”, a twice-weekly show about the ideas, people and projects building the digital economy and the future of money. My name is Adam B. Levine. Today on Let’s Talk Bitcoin I’m joined by Andreas Antonopoulos, one of the other hosts of the show.

Andreas Antonopolis : Hello.

Adam Levine : And today we have a special guest, Jeffrey Tucker – one of my favorite economists and a spirited Austrian. Jeffrey, how are you?

Jeffrey Tucker : Everything is really great. I’m so happy to be here. It’s really great that we’re able to meet up. I’m on the road a little bit doing this and that. I just got back from a nice Bitcoin meetup in Washington D.C. last night.

Adam Levine : So you are in Washington right now. What are you in Washington for?

Jeffrey Tucker : I came to introduce a series of seminars for, first the Charles Koch Institute, and then a nice interview on “Reason TV”, and now I’m headed to give a big lecture to the “National Convention of the Young Americans for Liberty”, which is kind of a political organization. But when you ask me to speak you’re not going to get too much about politics. You’re going to get a lot about crypto-anarchy.

Adam : So we have a lot of listener questions. Since we’ve booted up the forums I’ve been posting, “Hey, we’re going to be talking to these people. Do you have any questions?” So the first one that we have comes from the listener “Strip”. He says, “Is it necessary for Bitcoin to be a symbol for some kind of idea? Is the symbolism important? Is the idea important? Or is it the tech?”

Jeffrey : So this is a very interesting question because lot’s of people have different views about this. Even in Bitcoin meetups you find some people who have very conventional understanding of Bitcoin as a superior payment network. They see it as an improvement over Paypal. Then you meet other people who come out of the cyber-punk, anarchist world, and see it as a tool for liberating the world from nation-states. These are very different views, right? My own opinion about it is that it’s both things, and all things, and people should just hold whatever views they want to about it. The beautiful thing about Bitcoin is that it is not dependent upon our opinions of it. Nobody is in charge of Bitcoin. I don’t think it is necessary that we have a particular ideology going into our Bitcoin promotion or ideas. We can all interpret and understand it in a different way. If you think about it, it’s almost like electricity or internal combustion or something like that. These are gigantic and technological improvements that have entered into civilization. Many people have different ideas about how the technology is going to be used. That’s good and fine, but the tech is going to take it’s own direction regardless of what we think about it.

Andreas : I love the idea that it is both, because I think that the technology itself is most certainly neutral. It’s a technology that can be used for a variety of purposes. But at it’s core it encompasses certain principles : principles of transparency, principles of openness, peer-to-peer use that is decentralized and egalitarian. And here’s the trick, a neutral technology is not neutral if you put it in a world which is terrifically biased and skewed. Or as George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” So in a time of universal financial deceit, a transparent, open and egalitarian financial network is a revolutionary technology. It is political – not because it is inherently political – but because it is put into a context of deceit. The act of creating equal access finance with transparency – in our world – that is revolutionary.

Jeffrey : This is a wonderful way to put it! So often, Andreas, when you speak I often feel like I am sort of 1.0 and you are 2.0 – and I completely agree with what you said. I also love how Bitcoin embodies all of the coolest technologies of our time. What I am about to speak on at the Y.L. is about all of the beautiful technologies that are driving the world forward. From cryptography, open source program, and distributed networks and peer-to-peer relationships – these are entirely changing the world. I’m not sure if people are aware of this – especially these highly politicized young activist. The ground is shifting beneath our feet, and Bitcoin represents, I think, the most developed embodiment of all the coolest technologies that we’ve seen emerge over the last five to ten years.

Andread : I’ll give you another example of a technology that is inherently neutral, but when introduced into a society that was hopelessly biased it caused a revolution. That was the telescope. Galileo put two pieces of ground glass on the ends of a tube and peered up into the heavens, and what he saw was not heavens. What he saw was circle objects in elliptical orbits rotating around the sun. And that was simple truth. It was completely neutral. It was just reality sitting out there. But you drop that into the middle of 16th century Catholic church indoctrination, and that is a nuclear weapon on mass enlightenment which destroys all of these preconceived notions of a firmament – a heaven above, a material world below. Geocentricity instead of heliocentricity. That is an enormously revolutionary act, and it simply involves opening your eyes and looking up, and seeing something that directly contradicts 800 years of dogma and indoctrination. Does that make the telescope a revolutionary technology? Does that making looking reality in the face a revolutionary act? No, it’s completely neutral. It just is.

Adam : But it’s disuptive. It’s very disruptive.

Andreas : It ended whole nation-states. It destroyed kingdoms. It brought down royal families. It upended the world. It lead to people nailing proclamations of doors and taking of on ships and colonizing a new continent with completely different ideas. It lead to the French revolution. It lead to a victory of democracy over the middle ages – the “dark ages”. It lead to the end of the Holy Roman Empire. And it was just two pieces of glass on a tube. Again, it’s not the technology itself, it’s the context within which it appears.

Jeffrey : In Thomas Kuhn’s book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” it’s really, really interesting his description of a prevailing orthodoxy, and a paradigm that comes to be overthrown in the course of development of science in which there are too many anomalies that appear that are not explained by the prevailing paradigm. Then the paradigm collapses and we enter into a pre-paradigmatic state, where there is a lot of argument about what we are going to believe now about the future. Then a new paradigm emerges. As I was reading I couldn’t help but think that that applies also to social and political systems also – not just scientific paradigms. I really feel like we’re living through one of those right now. Andreas, you mentioned the underlying context here of a, sort of, equipotent world in which peer-to-peer relationships are the dominant thing. I really see that as the emerging new paradigm, and the failing paradigm – that is ending – is one of hierarchies and third-party trust relationships – whether it be banks, corporations or nation-states, actually.

Andreas : The problems is that these changes are, obviously, massively destructive because there are a large number of people in very powerful institutions invested in maintaining the status quo. No matter how wrong it is. No matter how perverted it is. No matter how much pain and suffering it introduces into the world. It’s very profitable for some, and you know, as another saying goes , “If your paycheck depends on you not seeing they truth, you won’t see the truth.”

Jeffrey : People get really embedded into the current paradigms, and to orthodoxies. People don’t understand really. This is what Thomas Kuhn’s book was an attack on, is the Whig’s theory of history – that there is a, kind of, smooth evolution of marginal improvements that go from thing to thing to thing. What he said was that actually we, sort of. hurl from one paradigm to another. There are all of these establishments that exist raised up around certain belief systems, and people are born into a certain structure, and they absorb that into their belief system. And they hang onto that for as long as possible until it becomes essentially impossible to do otherwise. This is what I think is essentially going to happen with Bitcoin. We all encounter ressistance to it. We are surrounded by people who are resistant. We see, sort of,a gradual enlightenment taking place. I notice in the last month, for example, I’ve personally encountered two people who were radical, radical Bitcoin critics a year ago, who have completely changed their minds in light of of just experience. That would be Peter Schiff and Jim Rogers, two intellectual investors who I really respect, who used to laugh at me for my views on the subject, who have now come around completely and admitted that they were completely wrong and are looking forward to a beautiful Bitcoin future.

Andreas : Well some of the strongest advocates in Bitcoin were originally skeptics. It’s in the nature of a skeptic – an honest skeptic – to ask hard questions. When you encounter someone who – as soon as you introduce Bitcoin to them – doesn’t just dismiss it, but dismiss it by asking really hard questions. Then you notice that they’re eagerly listening to your answers. They present you with their objections, and they are hoping that you will be able to overcome those objections to give them rational arguments to rethink their position. An honest skeptic will give you arguments, will let you demolish them, and then will make that change, absorb the new data and become an advocate. Some of the strongest advocates, I think, started like that. Then there’s a completely different category of person who is a skeptoc, but does not want to assimilate any new information that would violate that thinking. They don’t ask questions. They have preconceived ideas of what’s true and what isn’t, and any attempt to tell them about Bitcoin is dismissed. That’s how you know the difference between an honest skeptic and a dishonest skeptic, I guess. I don’t think it is surprising that people like Peter Schiff made that change, because that’s where our strongest advocates will come from.

Jeffrey : Can I tell you how it happened? It’s actually very funny. So, I’m bumping into Peter Schiff, and I’ve been arguing with the guy for like a year-and-a-half or even two years about Bitcoin. Because even before I became an advocate I was not a critic, right? He was one of these critics who would give like 65 reasons why Bitcoin is a terrible ides – one of these kind of guys. Then I ran into him in Las Vegas at “Freedom Fest” and he practically grabbed me by the lapels and said, “I have the most amazing story to tell you. My company started accepting Bitcoin, because I figured ‘Well, if I can get it converted into dollars right away, I don’t care .’ People can pay me in bananas – if it is converted into dollars it doesn’t matter to me.” So he enabled a widget on his web site that allowed his clients to pay in Bitcoin. And he said to me “You know, I can’t believe it. When I usually get international transfers in for some of their product they have to wait for or five days for a wire transfer and pay huge transactions fees for Paypal, and credit cards are ridiculously expensive and always involves some fraud issues.” He said, “But with Bitcoin, did you know that I can process these transactions even before the client gets off the phone and I pay virtually zero transaction costs?” And he’s telling me this – with wide eyes – as if he’s telling me news, you know? So I said, “Really Peter, is that right?” and he said, “Yeah, I’m telling you, that’s what’s right.” I said, “Well okay. I’m glad to hear this.” It’s the experience I think.

Adam : The experience really is it. That really is it. I think we all started as skeptics. I was looking at Bitcoin for a good year before I really felt like it was something that I might put some money into. And that was seeing it crash and come back a couple of times. It just seems like everybody has their own comfort threshold.

Andreas : Right, and as we expand adoption we’re reaching a comfort threshold of more and more people. They see the first crash, the second crash, the third crash, the forth crash, the fifth crash – and it’s still not dead, which is kind of remarkable. The number of obituaries that have been written for Bitcoin in quite staggering.

Adam : I thought it was pretty remarkable.

Jeffrey : I’m sitting here so thrilled, Here it is – I guess we’re approaching August 2014 – and I started writing about this subject around February 2013. I didn’t expect what would happen, but I wrote about five or ten articles right away, since I kind of stared engaging the Bitcoin economic structures and seeing what they’re all about. Then, in a funny way, the ceiling fell in on me. All of my old colleagues and friends started coming out of the woodwork to say that I was not of sound mind – that I had forgotten all of the lessons that I previously knew, and that I had, sort of, lost it. I was severely attacked and criticized – and it shocked me really. I have to admit to you that it is has been delightful over the last year-and-a-half to see how all of these people have shut up. You know? I hate to feel that sense of schadenfreude, but I just do.

Adam : It’s nice that there’s more support for it now, but we still haven’t hit that 1% yet,

Andreas : Yeah, Jeffrey, you said something that got my attention, which is people telling you, “Have you forgotten all the lessons? Have you forgotten all the things you know?” And that’s really the primary criticism of an established paradigm. The lessons and the things you know ; the conventional wisdom which is being drummed into your head. Especially if you study the subject – as an insider, as an academic in the space, or as a professional in the space – and you become skilled and expert in the space, that means you have reached the apotheosis of indoctrination. You’ve absorbed all of the dogma and become adept at teaching it to others. So the ironic thing is that the people who are able to escape the paradigm first are the ones who have never been schooled in it. If you come at it and say, “I don’t know anything about money so this Bitcoin thing looks good.” you’ve got a better chance of learning something. But if you think you already know everything there is to know about money and you have that conventional wisdom in your head, it’s almost impossible to escape that paradigm. It invades your life in every way. It informs your academic success. You’ve written papers about it. You’ve taught thousands of others the same thing, and reinforced it in your own mind. You’ve expanded your view within that narrow framework. You’ve explored it’s edges. You’ve taken it from a vague description to hard lines and sharp edges. Then stepping outside of that is almost impossible. So you see that sometimes a person who comes along and throws all of that in disarray is someone outside the field. It has to be, because they’ve avoided the indoctrination. It’s the patent clerk at the Austrian patent office who says, “Newtonian physics? I don’t think so.” It’s the tinkerer who has no formal training in electronics who understands a new perspective. And it’s the half-programmer, half-physicist systems-thinker “Satoshi Yakamoto” who is obviously not an economist, who comes along and says, “Well how about we do it this way?”

Jeffrey : I love what you just said, and I hope that somebody transcribes those two paragraphs you just said. I know in my case I had a serious problem that everything I thought I knew argued against the legitimacy of Bitcoin. It became a serious problem for me mentally, because I couldn’t make sense of it in light of my theories. But at some point I decided look, “What am I going to trust? What I actually see out the window? Or the theories that are in this hundred-year-old book that I’ve got rolling around in my head?” I finally had to trust reality over theory and hope that at some point they could reemerge together in a way that makes rational sense to me. But there was a whole long period in there where I couldn’t actually bring the two together. But none-the-less Bitcoin is happening. So I had to take almost a kind of a leap out of my prevailing orthodoxies in order to embrace Bitcoin. Then, gradually – over the course of about twelve months – I began to put it all back together again. Now Bitcoin makes sense to me in light of what I previously understood, but with some tweeks, you know? So there is a certain amount of intellectual humility which is required to leave one paradigm and enter another.

Andreas : When you said you had to make an intellectual leap it brought to mind another beautiful example of paradigm shifting and just stepping completely outside of the accepted norms and doing something so obviously weird and different that it shocks everyone, and it forces them to reconsider reality because it simply works. That’s the story of Dick Fosbury. Richard Fosbury is the athlete who was the first person to do the high jump with a backwards flip. Nobody had ever done it that way. Everybody would run up to the pole and, kind of, scissor their legs over it. That was the established way of doing it for decades – possibly even hundreds of years – who knows. He ran up and jumped backwards, and at first the reaction was that the judges tried to figure out if this was actually allowed.Can you do this? Is this part of the rules? Because he immediately set world records by doing this weird backwards flip. And they said, “Well, the pol is still there, it didn’t fall off.” It completely violated the existing paradigm – completely crazy and weird looking – and, of course, the next year everybody was doing it.

Jeffrey : That’s a great story.

Adam Levine : LTBCoin is the official community rewards program of the “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” network. You can earn LTBC by performing any number of thing you probably already do. If you listen to shows like “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” listen up for the magic word. When you hear it, visit http://www.letstalkbitcoin.com. Log in to your free account, and enter the magic words to claim your share of the listener rewards. Now it’s time for the ‘LTB News Flash”, brought to you by Cryptokit – the easiest, fastest Bitcoin wallet which installs right into your browser so it’s always ther when you need it.

Here are the headlines for August 9th, 2014 : Lake Tahoe Property sells for 1.6 million Bitcoin. Bitcoin momentum growing in emerging markets. Hacker swipes $83,000 from Bitcoin mining pool. The Bitcoin derivative boom could be a mark of the cryptocurrency’s coming of age. [Huboy?] bets big on multisig with quick wallet acquisition. Bitcoin Foundation seeks more time to address virtual currency rules. Hungary’s 200 volt now accepts Bitcoin for laptops, tablets, t.v.s and more. Check it out at cryptokit.com.

Today’s first sponsor, with a high water mark of 81,250 LTBC is “Storj.io”. Here’s what they have to say about the project :

Commercial Announcer : Imagine if the cloud wasn’t up here, but down here, with us. That’s storj. Storj is a cloud shared by the community. It is potentially the largest, cheapest and most secure cloud available. What you share is what you get. You can even be paid for renting your extra space. But how is it more secure? Each file is shredded, encrypted and spread across the network until you are ready to use it again. You can be sure the files are safe because the keys are in your pocket, not a company’s. Only you have access to your stuff. Because the network is shared you don’t have to worry about slowed download seeds coming from one place. We’re all helping make the system blazing fast. And if you have some extra space lying around, you’ll get paid by users who need more than they can share. It’s like renting out your empty hard drives. A cloud with security, no downtime and sopeed at a fraction of the cost.

Adam Levine : They’re currently running a crowd sale. August 15th is the last day to get involved. If you’d like to learn more visit storj.io.

It’s time for the magic word. Today’s magic word, for episode 134, is “liberty”. That’s L-I-B-E-R-T-Y. You’ve got until the 13th of August to visit Letstalkbitcoin.com and enter the magic word for your share of the LTBC audience rewards.

So, today’s second sponsor is a little bit different. With 62,000 LTBC, community member [Seen mason?] asked that we use his time to talk a little about the situation in Gaza. His perspective is this : Between 1947 and 1949, seven to eight thousand non-Jews were expelled from their family lands in Isreal and hundreds of villages were destroyed. Those people were kept under occupation without rights or a state for 47 years. Muslims, Christians and others within Isreal can’t rent or purchase land in about 80% of the country, and are basically second-class citizens by law. While, on the other hand, any Jewish person born anywhere in the world may gain Israeli citizenship and take the land of a non-Jew.

And with that, I’ve pissed off about half of our audience. Just kidding. Thanks to C. Mason for his perspective. My mind is very one-track.I tend to focus on things I can positively impact. Mostly this just seems like there is no winning scenario. It’s not about the people, it’s about the politics of control – which is probably a whole show unto itself. And certainly just because one side of the story has terrible stories doesn’t mean that it’s not just as true on the other. And that’s the thing, I guess. It’s just not about you or I at all. In the Middle East – just like everywhere else – our leaders make bad decisions just because it’s the best – as they see it – of the available options. Is it good for anyone really? No. But that’s not the world that we live in – yet. So that’s it. Back to the show.

Adam Levine : So Andreas, a little bit earlier you mentioned patent clerk, Newtonian physics. Intellectual property really has been – for hundreds of years now – kind of a core part of how people both monetize and protect. And it’s been interesting watching disruptive technologies – specifically cryptocurrency, which isn’t really governed by patents, and can’t really be controlled by patents – and on the other hand you have things liike 3D printing, that made a lot of progress over a couple of years, but that was only because some 20-year-old patents had expired and now these parts were able to be made by just anybody who wanted to make them as opposed to the one manufacturing conglomerate that had the legal right to be able to do it before that point.

So, Jeffrey, I’m curious, where do you think intellectual property controls can fit within a Bitcoin framework, and what impact would it have had if the situation had been different in the cryptocurrency space.

Jeffrey Tucker : So my own feeling on intellectual property is that it is basically an artificial thing that can only exist in an age of the nation-state, and that’s governed by the physical world threats of monopolistic elites who control the world through compulsion and coersion. That’s fundamentally at odds with what the digital age is all about : about malleability, reproducability, immoirtality and distributed networks. The idea of some elites gathering together to allocate who owns what in the realm of ideas is incompatible with this. Seriously, I’ve done a lot of work on the history of intellectual property – the ideological structure surrounding it. It wasn’t really until after the beginning of the 21st century that we saw hardcore, really serious attacks on the idea of IP – and it’s because digital networks really broke the system down. We saw some opposition to IP even as early as the beginnings of the industrial revolution, but nothing really substantial and serious until the digital age. Basically, I think the system is broken down and isn’t going to last, and it is very interesting to me to see how large corporations are starting to realize this and stop putting so much energy and time into enforcing their patents and copyrights – and starting to use the new networks of open source cooperation and the sharing economy to their advantage.

Andreas : Here, here. That’s a great commentary. Intellectual property is an artificial construct for monopolizing ideas and creating cartels around abstract concepts. The basic problem is that no one really has an original thought that they’ve conceived completely by themselves without anybody else being involved. Innovation is simply expending a culture of four-and-a-half million years one millimeter forward by combining all of the existing inputs and producing something slightly different – something that probably a few thousand other people have probably done somewhere else. The idea that you can take that and create a monopoly around that – while originally envisioned as a way to reward creators – has ended up creating these islands of stagnant creativity and isolation by removing things from the culture. The age-old compact – the social compact, that is even encoded in the U.S. Constitition, which is that “Congress can secure rights for creators in order to promote the arts and sciences.”. This idea that these patents and copyrights are of limited time – so that you take from the cultural Zeitgeist, you enhance it or advance it a tiny bit, you get a short-term reward, and then you give it back to the public domain so that others can build upon it. That compact then got perverted. Starting with the Disney company, who as soon as they saw their Mickey copyright runnning out, went ot Congress and got it extended 73 times – until copyright essentially became infinite, instead of limited in time, They were quite happy to take “The Brother’s Grim” and every other cultural story, appropriate it for their own needs, and then give nothing back to the popular culture. Take all of the stories of our ancestors, turn them into copyright material, and then give nothing back by perverting the copyright law. We’ve seen this happen across the board in intellectual property. Well, open source breaks that cycle. It recognizes that collaboration and creation moves faster, and innovation with collaboration moves faster – and if you give back to the community the community will give back to you again and again, and it creates this feedback loop of accelerated innovation. Whether it is Linux, or Wikipedia, or a thousand other things which have come from it – especially now with the introduction of the “Creative Commons” law and licenses. Those are amnazing things, and what they’re showing is that there is a much better way to do it.

Jeffrey : I heard something last night that really intrigued me, because I’ve tried to understand the best way to describe open source projects and what they mean. At the Bitcoin meetup last night somebody said that the great thing about open source technology is that it, sort of, takes away the obligation we all feel to constantly reinvent things – to constantly recreate, on our own, from scratch – all things. Always reinventing the wheel in a world of intellectual property, as you say, requires absolute originality. But open source programming – and open source everything – allows us to draw from the energies of others, and take what’s already been done and build on top of them. So you have this cumulating capital that grows over time. I was trying to thinkof a right analogy. It’s as if you had, sort of, one cake that is baked by the entire world, that is constantly getting ever better and ever more delicious, and the more people eat it there is ever more cake for ever more people. Rather than individual cakes by individuals constantly throughout history, you have one big cake that everybody is constantly making better and testing and bringing their own ideas to. I thought that was a really nice way to think about it,

Andreas : Yeah. The core fallacy at the heart of the concept of the intellectual property is the word “property”, because one of the absolute characteristics of property is that if you have property and I take that property, you no longer have that property. It is by definition singular, unique, unitary and not sharable. But if you have an idea, and I copy that idea, we both have that idea. And if I give it to ten more people, all twelve of us now have that idea – and we can all build on it. And you lost nothing from the fact that I have the idea. It’s not property, and it’s not property because it’s not tangible, it’s not destroyable. It’s infinitely copyable. If you have invented something and I copy that, then really what we are doing is doubling the rate of invention. Because – at the end of the day – you didn’t really invent something, you just expanded on thousands of years of culture. Your addition is standing on the shoulders of giants, and really hasn’t raised the bar that much.

Jeffrey : The whole idea od property in the first place – as you said – comes about because of the existence of scarcity. It’s a social construct we invented to stop conflicts, to deal with the problem of rivalrous control over the physical world. Once you migrate to the digital world you get simultaneous consumption of all things – with no depreciation of the original object – property is no longer necessary. It becomes just an absurdity. You know, it is important to remember that in history people have had mistaken views of propert over all sorts of things. For example, in the 18th century, and up until the early part of the 19th century – people thought that slaves were legitate forms of property, In fact, there is a 5th Amendment to the Constitution that was put in there to protect property rights over other people [chuckle], you know? Now we recognize that was just a mistake. So in the 21st century we’re gradually realizing that this is also a mistake to apply the term “property” to the realm of ideas?

Adam : But was it always a mistake? Because the arguments I hear both of you making basically revolve around, “Now we have digital things.” But that wasn’t true even 30 or 40 years ago. So 200 years ago, when intellectual property was getting started inthis country – in the United States – I have it in my head that it might actually have served a purpose, because the inventor was at the mercy of a manufacturing partner that might take years and might actually kick them out of the business because the inventor doesn’t control – or have any claim to – the very centralized and capital-intensive means of production. So Lincoln had a quote that I like. He said, “Patents added the fuel of interest to the fire of innovations.” I wonder, did they ever serve a purpose in your eyes, Jeffrey?

Jeffrey : No, I don’t think so, and I think what we need to do is totally revise intellectual history. There origin of the steam engine was a similar kind of problem. I mean, it was a great innovation, but it got locked down by oatents and nothing happened of any value for another 10 or 20 years, because everybody was, sort of, prohibited by law from adding to it. It was very interesting what happened with even things like the cotton gin. Who’s that guy – Eli Witley – supposedly invented it, but he didn’t invent it, he improved it slightly and got a patent on it and then went around spending the next 20 years cracking skulls to prevent innovation, He finally learned his lesson after he bankrupted himself spending so much money on patent lawsuits. It’s the same thing with the Wright Brothers. They came up with pretty cool little onnovation that gave them the title of being the first in flight, and then they spent the rest of their whole lives enforcing the patents. Meanwhile, all of the other countries in the world actually improved airline technology. By the time World War I came along the U.S. had the worst airplanes in the world, because we had the tightest patent controls [laughter].Yeah, I don’t think that patents have ever served any kind of purpose, and we really need to revise our intellectual history.

Adam, you said something very interesting about how maybe intellectual property is not really relevant in the digital age, but it might have had relevance before. But I really feel like we should have known that IP was not a good idea, even dating all the way back to the Gutenberg bible. When the Gutenberg bible came along, of course there was no IP over the psalms and the other texts that were being printed. But there was a confusion, because people associated the ideas on the page with the physical property of the page itself. We couldn’t really conceptualize the fact that these were really difference products. I mean, the ideas in the book are part of the non-scarce realm, the book itself is part of the scarce realm, and so we have this merging of these two things – one non-scarce and one scarce – and one beautiful thing called a “book”. But it took us a long time to realize that we are dealing always with two realms – one scarce and one non-scarce. We just didn’t know it – fully and completely – until the last few years.

Adam : So Bitcoin emerged as a very hobbiest sort of thing. It was very, very amateur, very experimental – “Let’s see what we can accomplish. We’re doing this because it’s neat that we can do this.” And I recently read a book called “The Master Switch” by Tim Woo, and in that he tells a bunch of different stories of information empires as they succeed and then fail. One of the stories he tells is about AM radio and FM radio. AM radio strikes me very similarly to how Bitcoin emerged, and FM radio seems like maybe after these recent discussion about these rules that are being made in New York. Maybe that’s the situation that everything that comes after will fall under. So I’m curious, do you know this story?

Jeffrey : I’m not aware about it.

Andreas : It’s been a while since I read Tim Woo’s book, so maybe you can remind me while we explain it to our listeners.

Adam : It’s a fairly lengthy thing, but the ideais that, in the early days, a kid who wanted to set up a radio station could set up a radio station with one of these little crystal radio things, and it was a hobbiest thing that people did because it was fun. You could set up a broadcast and you could listen to things, and this was very new at the time. Basically, it took like forty years to develop, but by that point it had developed into quite a successful industry, and there were a variety of monopolies, actually. Because at the time the only way you could get a station from somewhere non-locally was to use AT&T’s long distance lines. That actually was one of the reasons why FM radio was kind of suppressed, because FM radio came along and it esssentially made it so that ranges and power requirements were such that, before, it was unfeasible with AM radio to do re-broadcast stations – where you broadcast from one hill and then it is re-broadcast from another hill. The range was too short and the power requirements were too great. But when FM radio came along, it essentially made it so that anybody who wanted to do this could very cheaply set up these networks of stations and re-broadcasters, and that was one of several reasons why the FM radio paradigm – which it actually invented the FM radio technology and funded the research to do it – then sat on the technology. So the FCC came along and said, “In order to maintain the standard you can use much less power than you could with an equivalent AM station, so that it will only give you an AM equivalent broadcast distance.”. I’m rambling, and doing a kind of terrible job with this, but it seems like sometimes – especially in the last hundred years – these are used as weapons to suppress technologies.

Andreas : Not sometimes, Adam. Every single time, in every disruptive technology, the existing industries have used every weapon at their disposal to fight for incumbency and to prevent disruption. Which is, of course, the normal reaction. which then tells you what regulation does. Regulation starts off – at least presumably, or presented as – consumer protection, and it very quickly becomes a way to distinguish incumbents and to protect them from competition. Because they become adept at navigating the regulation, they co-opt the regulators, and then as soon as disruption happens they turn the regulation around and point it as a big weapon against the disruptors. That has happened in every industry. It’s happening today in every industry.

Jeffrey : In the end they never succeed. That’s what’s amusing. History progresses in any case, it’s just that the regulators can slow us down, but that can’t ultimately stop it – which makes it just a vast waste. I feel this way about a lot of these Bitcoin regulations that are coming out. It’s going to make the sector function less well, it’s going to make it less competitive, there’s going to be less focus on the consumer and more focus on compliance. But im the end, fifty years from now, none of these regulations that they’re trying to pass right now are going to have any relevance for whether – and to what extent – Bitcoin adoption is going to take place. Bitcoin is going to take its own course eventually. It’s just a matter of how many victims you want to create in the meantime. That’s what it’s all about.

Adam : Well, in New York, for example – again, we’re talking about proposed rules here just real briefly – that essentially say that you have the same compliance requirements if you do anything with Bitcoin – and users that have some basis in New York – as you would if, basically, you were a minor bank. The reporting requirements are very stringent, and it basically makes it so that with the current way that cryptocurrency is, it’s kind of incompatible to be complaint and to not create and entirely new cryptocurrency. So, I’ve been wondering about that. I mean, it’s kind of easy to create a new cryptocurrency, so if New York wants to go along with this type of means, doesn’t it make sense to actually either – maybe not them, nut somebody else does it – but create a cryptocurrency that actually complies with all of these requirements that they want. That has the real name currency attached, and that doesn’t require you to Jerry-rig it, rather than using Bitcoin where – yeah, you can use it, but you’re throwing out all of the advantages that came with it, so why bother?

Andreas : I think that’s mistaking a feature for a bug. The fact that Bitcoin is incompatible with these regulations, that’s not a bug in Bitcoin. That’s a feature. That’s one of the best features in Bitcoin. It’s incompatible with these regulations because those regulations themselves express the existing paradigm, and that is exactly what Bitcoin is disrupting.

Adam : But I’m going to call you on this, Andreas, because Bitcoin is neutral. So, at the same time, you’re kind of putting an ideology onto it. So, that’s what I’m saying —

Andreas : No. I’m not —

Adam : Bitcoin has the ideology baked into it. Can you twist that ideology and create something else that’s very similar but that doesn’t have that exact thing.

Andreas : No. What I’m saying is that Bitcoin is neutral, but Bitcoin is neutral in a way that violates the tenets of a very “not neutral” regulatory system that assumes that the best way to achieve consumer protection is to have all of the personal identifiable information of consumers given to several agencies with lax controls – so they can lord over it and supposedly stop “bad guys”. And what that does is actually destroys consumer protection. Privacy is consumer protection. The idea that by giving all of your private information you will be protected as a consumer is perverse. And the fact that Bitcoin does not conform to that idea because it is neutral, because it allows consumers to interact without having to go through this perverse activity of giving up all of their personal information just to transact – that is not a bug in Bitcoin. That is the feature that makes sure that Bitcoin will not fit into these comfortable regulations, and it won’t fit into the comfortable regulations because the regulations themselves are perverse – the idea that consumer protection is ensured by taking all the private information of consumers. And when consumers have a choice, to choose how they want to be protected, they choose not to give out their personal information. That —

Adam : — But that is the point. —

Andreas : — It’s neutral. —

Adam : Yes, in reality, given the choice. But they don’t have a choice. If this happens, then the only legal uses for Bitcoin will be this type of use – where you are disclosing all of this information. So that’s what I’m saying, is that in the world we live in, if this happens is it better to keep using Bitcoin and still disclose all of that information because you’re going to have to anyways – if you’re in New York, and under the subject of all of this nonsense. Or is it better to create something that, kind of, bakes it in? More importantly, what about people who are not us – and who are not in this for the ideology of it – think?

Announcer (Adam B. Levine) : Thanks for listening to episode 134 of “Let’s Talk Bitcoin”. Content for today’s episode was provided by : Andreas M. Antonopolis, Jeffrey Tucker and Adam B. Levine. This episode was edited by Denise Levine and Adam B. Levine. Music for today’s show was provided by Jared Rubin of “Security Beats” and General Fuzz. If you’re a developer, you might be interested in our upcoming “Coins For Commits” program. As the platform goes open source in the coming weeks we want as much help as possible, and you’ll earn LTBC for your commits. If you have any questions, send an email to adam@letstalkbitcoin.com and I’ll help you find the right person to speak to.

=========================================================

Feel free to donate some Bitcoin to support the research and writing effort of this blog.

Donate some Bitcoin to support the research and writing effort of this blog.

Day 9 : Podcast Transcription : Unleashing the Full Potential of the Spoken Word

black_microphone_on_baby_blue_background

Today I spent another hour working through the remaining TranscribeMe training modules while simultaneously going through the style guide one page at a time. The training modules provide good information and some practice on the kinds of grammar and proofreading skills you will commonly use when transcribing the audio, in addition to the markup tags which are used to deal with any factors in the audio which are either not formally in the realm of speech transcription proper (ex. [silence] to denote a speaker’s silence for tens seconds or more, [inaudible] to denote that the speech is simply too unclear (at least for you) to decipher, and various other useful ones). Learning to use the tags properly allows you to deal with essentially ANY issue which comes up in the audio which acts as an obstacle to you properly transcribing every word in the project.

When I completed the training modules I simply moved in the same manner through the test. Since it is possible to answer a few questions and then log off of the internet, log back on and simply resume the test, I proceeded to take my time with the exam while also continuing to work through the style guide. During the test itself there were a few instances where I needed to directly refer to the style guide in order to answer a question (or transcribe one of the audio files) properly.

Most of the test was straight forward and the questions could be easily answered correctly by anyone who had paid attention during the training and read carefully through the style guide. For some reason, however, in the second part of the exam (right before the end) I ran into some difficulty in the transcription section which I couldn’t seem to figure out. In fact, they give you a certain number of tries to get it right and then, if not successful, you must restart the whole test. So after trying twice I was getting worried that I would have to do all the work of restarting the exam. Luckily, my research instincts came to my aid. After carefully re-reading the style guide a few more times and still not being able to get past the trouble spot in the exam I decided that I needed to try and find additional information about the TranscribeMe system. Luckily, my instincts were correct and I found the answer in one of the videos on the TranscribeMe training videos YouTube channel. In the video they explain that since the audio files have been broken down into micro-chunks then you can never be fully sure if the first word in the file you are working on is the beginning of the first sentence or a continuation of a sentence or questionfrom the previous chunk. Therefore, you are suppose to NOT add ellipses (…) at either the beginning or the end of the file. Unfortunately, although the style guide is generally quite good it does not make this point clear enough (which is the main reason why I don’t feel guilty for mentioning the issue here). I am also aware from a contact who was doing the exam at the same time that they were getting stuck at the same point in the test. I was also to find out later – once I had access to the internal social media message board – that many people had had this problem at this same point in the exam. Fortunately for me, my research training had saved me from unnecessary hassle. Again, the strategy of taking in as much information about a subject from as many sources as possible enabled me to find a solution to this issue without having to bother anyone or wait for a response. This same research strategy has safeguarded my from various problems in the past. As a result of my diligence I avoided the frustration and waste of time of having to repeat the test. In fact, once I found the solution I gave the test one last try and – with fingers crossed and by making the appropriate changes – this time I was relieved to see that I passed.

Once the exam was passed a page came up which explained that I would be contacted shortly by an administrator who would direct me in how to access the workhub and begin working on audio files, interact with the community, and all of the other good things that certified TranscribeMe transcriptionist are able to do. At this point I simply continued working through the style guide, blog posts and other resources I had collected (of which there were already enough to keep me busy for months). Once the administrators contacted me and gave the green light I would simply add the new resources and tasks which then became available available to the overall mix and “things to do” lists. It is all just one continuous training process.

The Connection Between Transcription and Podcasting

I have always had a serious interest in podcasting. I am constantly listening to various podcasts each day and I find that the format has some unique features which make it better than printed text or video in some circumstances and for certain purposes. For instance, on many days I spend so much time sitting up looking at the computer screen and I just want to be able to lay down and listen to some interesting content. In fact, I often schedule my research to alternate between “sitting up” tasks and “laying down listening” tasks. This is much healthier for the back and eyes than constant screen exposure. You can imagine what great pleasure I have found in the fact that the first transcription company I started working for within the last few weeks issues a continuous and eclectic supply of podcasts for transcription and editing.

Here is an excellent video produced by Cliff Ravenscraft, a well-known podcasting expert and consultant, where he discusses four of the top unique benefits of the podcasting format over other forms of modern communication :

Two of the unique benefits which Mr. Ravenscraft’s discusses and which I agree are most interesting are

(1) the effect of the increase in smartphone usage to provide a rapidly growing audience for podcasts and

(2) elimination of mandatory “screen time” (looking at the computer screen) to consuming podcasting content

These are two important factors which I believe will only increase the popularity and consumption of podcasting into the future. For instance, think about all of the people who are willing to listen to a podcast while driving to or from work (especially in traffic), or while doing chores, or as a break from sitting up looking at the screen.

The people over at TranscribeMe have devoted a whole blog post to the issue of podcasting and its relation to transcription : Podcast Transcription where they point out the essential benefit of podcast transcription lying in making the podcast more possible to be indexed in the search engines, since search engines only index text – not audio. They don’t index video either and so the same benefits of transcription apply to video as well as explained in the article Reach More Clients by Transcribing Your YouTube Videos.

Here is an example of a reputable podcast production which includes the transcript for each podcast right on the main podcast page : The Paleo Solution – Episode 112. On this page you will see a link for downloading the (audio) podcast itself and a seperate link for downloading the transcript (in pdf format).

It’s important to keep in mind that one of the most beneficial reasons to transcribe a podcast of video is that it then enables disabled people to access you content. For instance, deaf people specifically can consume your content by reading the transcript. Blind people would naturally be able to consume the audio podcasting content unassisted, but for video they would need a computerized reader device to read a transcript of the content. In either case, transcribing helps to include a wider audience of people who can benefit from your production. For some podcasts, this group of people may constitute a significant portion of their target audience.

Another interesting article from Forbes Funnymen and iPhones: Why the Podcast is Finally Coming Into its Own looks at hot the podcast has allowed those who have less mainstream views to enter the broadcasting market whereas they would have little success approaching traditional networks. Some of these avant garde podcasters do indeed end up succeedin either through the growth of their podcast alone or through being picked up by one of the larger mainstream networks. Therefore, podcasting is a sort of experimental medium which enables new ideas to build ground and eventually become successful.

As I mentioned before, I have been focusing on editing the audio files (including podcasts) from the one company I work for as the transcription files are rather long and difficult for me at my current experience level. Editing these files, however, is very productive and enjoyable. Since most of the transcription text which comes in attached to the audio file as part of the editing project is of relatively decent quality (some more than others) the reality is that if the content of the podcast is straightforward (ex. not too technical) and the quality of the audio is decent (which is usually the case, since most serious podcasters who are actually willing to spend money on transcription spend considerable effort trying to get the best quality production that they can) the process of editing basically involves a rather leisurely listen to the audio file in real time and following the text to proofread for mistakes. This is called “proofing to audio” in transcriptionist jargon, by the way. If there are errors they can usually be spotted and fixed quickly by stopping the audio for a few seconds and making the quick adjustment. Common errors which occur include : the transcriber omitting an important word, simple spelling mistakes, simple punctuation mistakes, the wrong word which can often more easily be deciphered by the editor who is approaching the audio with fresh ears, etc. The editing step of the process certainly IS important as just having an additional person (who naturally possesses a unique skills set and often a higher level of experience in order to reach the editing level) to go through the transcript and audio can catch most of the mistakes made by the original transcriber. I could safely say that in EVERY SINGLE transcript I have ever edited there has been AT LEAST one error which I was able to correct. Most of the time there are several. So, I don’t feel guilty for choosing the less stressful editing jobs for now, since my work as editor actually DOES improve the final transcript product in some way.

Ultimately, working as a transcriber puts you into contact with a regular stream of interesting and new podcasts. There have been numerous cases where I received a podcast from the transcription company which I enjoyed so much listening to during the editing process that I went out to locate the podcast, subscribe and become a regular listener myself. This is just another one of the juicy perks of being a freelance transcriptionist.

Day 6 : Dealing With Rejection in the Online Transcription Industry

no entry

In the past six days I’ve made some good progress towards the longer term goal of building a steady flow of online transcription work while simultaneously building my competency and skills so that I can accept and complete files audio files with confidence and efficiency, and ultimately make an adequate amount of income to survive, maintain this self-training, and eventually build a progressively larger amount of work (both in terms of quantity AND quality) and income. Actually, I don’t really need that much income during this beginning period, as I live a relatively spartan lifestyle, and so my living expenses are basic due to my current living location.

Although I haven’t written so much about my personal life up to this point, I think it is now a good time to reveal that I have lived in the “developing world” for the past decade. In my specific situation, trying to survive in the United States (the country where I was born) became too difficult. Many of the young people in my generation graduated university only to find themselves hopelessly drowning in student loan debt, with dwindling prospects for attaining any sort of long term, gainful employment in the field they had attained their degree in. The economies of the “developed” countries have taken a significant turn for the worse in the past two decades, and I was smart (and lucky) enough to realize that things were only going to get worse. Although my predictions have now been vindicated, there is a silver lining here. The development of the internet has created two major forces which are counterbalancing the implosion of the traditional economy. These are telecommuting and freelancing, in combination with various others.  We are now in an age where it is possible to work in a location independent manner (a.k.a. “digital nomadism”) if you are able to attain an adequate number of, and degree of, work skills which can be performed with a proper laptop computer and internet (especially including wifi) connection. I will discuss this issue in much more detail into the future.

Getting back to my personal story, over several years during my 20s, after drifting around the Unites States both to explore and try to find a place to settle and build a business, I began gradually exploring several developing countries in Asia. I started as a traveler, then made the transition into English teaching for several month periods, and when that got to be too stressful I transitioned into freelance photojournalism, then web journalism/blogging, editing, and am now finally ready to take the next step into the exciting field of transcription. I will write more about myself in future posts, but for now this is good, and relevant, information to know in relation to the topic being discussed at this point. The most important point is that my living costs are quite low (it is currently possible to survive on~$600 USD per month) and so I have the flexibility to work for cheap for a while as I spend the time and energy gaining transcribing experience and building a network of fellow transcriptionists and prospective clientele. This is an advantage that many newbies in the “developed world” do NOT generally have, primarily due to the high, and increasing, cost of living. I therefore want to take full advantage of my situation to get up and running as quickly (yet methodically) as possible. It took a LOT of sacrifice to leave my country of origin, and I intend to be successful at achieving the ability to make a proper living which I was not able to in the US. The alternative is to return there, where the situation is now drastically WORSE, for a multitude of reasons, and so I am taking this effort very seriously, and have created this blog to assist future newbies to the industry to minimize the time and energy they need to spend to attain steady progress in a short time.

At this point, I have now built a daily workflow consisting of : evaluating various audio files as they appear on the “available jobs” board of the online system of the company I work for. By evaluating different audio files I get a better sense of the characteristics of the different kinds of projects that are out there. In addition, since I am also actively working on some files at the same time, I am getting to know what I am capable of through experience. Plus, I am building my skills through self-study using various free resources (ex. blogs, forums, etc.). Finally, yesterday I began adding another major component to the mix. That is, evaluating new prospective online transcription companies (one or two per day) and applying to those which fit my desired criteria. I completed one application yesterday (to the Rev.com company) and hope to find and apply to another quality company today.

Now, at this point let me say that I have some bad news and some good news. I’ll start with the bad news, which isn’t really SUPER-bad, but just a bit frustrating – another “speed bump” on the road of life – but at the same time, a situation with which I will attempt to turn “lemons into lemonade”.

I indeed received a sooner-than-expected response email from Rev.com this morning. The email said exactly this :

Dear Mr. X,

Thank you for applying for the transcriptionist position with Rev. We have rigorous minimum standards and unfortunately your application did not meet those.

Please do not contact Rev regarding this decision, as we are unable to further elaborate on our reasons.

Again, thank you for your interest in working with Rev. You may re-apply in six months.

Regards,

Rev Recruiting

Now, it wasn’t so much the fact that I had invested quite a bit of time and energy in completing the application (including the significant writing component and the two transcriptions) – and thought that I did both quite well – that frustrated me upon receiving this email. It wasn’t even so much the fact that they didn’t give a reason for rejecting my application.

What WAS most frustrating about this rejection was the fact that they made ZERO effort to attempt to provide me with any sort of constructive information, or anything which would indicate that they valued my existence in any way (for example, as a potential FUTURE transcriber, a potential future CUSTOMER, etc.). They basically just slammed the virtual door shut in my face and said “Good luck.”

Now, as an experienced online marketer I would say that this is a significant loss on the part of the Rev company, in the sense that they are not taking advantage of the potential benefits of their online presence. So as not to sound like I’m being cynical simply because my application was rejected, let me elaborate on what I am talking about AND suggest some constructive alternatives to the strategy by which the Rev company currently rejects applicants.

First, we need to consider that many of the people who complete Rev’s transcriptionist application are inexperienced “newbies” who are in search of opportunities to build their skills and obtain new information about the industry. In addition, they have just spent an hour (or MORE) of their valuable time and effort writing and transcribing only to get a curt email saying “No thanks. Good luck”. If these applications have some errors (assuming that some applicants’ errors are more or less severe than others) can you really make such firm judgement of them based on an essay and two short transcriptions? After all, they are probably nervous, it may be their first transcription test, etc. Plus, if you don’t give them any kind of feedback on the reasons why their application was rejected then they won’t be able to address and work on those issues so that they can perform better on future transcription application tests, ESPECIALLY in the early phase where they may not be aware of some of the quality self-study resources available online. The last thing a “lost” newbie needs is to spend valuable time on an application, and end up feeling inadequate and confused.

The issue is actually broader than this, because it is well known in the online marketing industry that “Content Is King”. That is, information which HELPS people and is given away FREELY is the CURRENCY of the online world. It is for this very reason that I have (and WILL) spend COUNTLESS hours developing this blog. It is NOT an effort driven by the desire for self gain, but for the purpose of HELPING people, by providing them with free and actionable information. THIS is the true nature of proper human relations, and one which has been SADLY corrupted for far too long. The internet has now provided a platform for the REVIVAL of this more evolved form of human evolution.

By Rev leaving rejected applicants “hanging” the company is missing out on opportunities to contribute their expertise to the wider web community and raise the bar for the whole industry. I will elaborate on this by going back to my original review of the company, which I wrote about in the last post (Day 5 : Evaluating Online Transcription Companies).

In that post I talked about how Rev’s blog was not really designed to its fullest potential. The main blog page is merely a text link page, the categories are oddly/erratically organized, the blog post subjects are random in topic and they a very small handful of posts related to transcription. Now think about the potential of the Rev bloggers writing up some high-quality and regular posts about different aspects of the transcription industry (ex. future trends, the role of a company like Rev in the context of the whole industry, analysis of different aspects of the transcription industry, resources for aspiring transcriptionists, etc.). This kind of content is something that rejected applicants (like myself) could really benefit from. Especially since they stated very clearly that I can re-apply in six months, then having some blog articles to read over the next few weeks and months would allow me to get to know more about the company, keep them on my radar, and thus be in a better, more informed position if/when I re-apply. To illustrate this clearly I will compare Rev’s approach to another company (later in this post) which DOES implement this kind of proper web site interaction with the general public, and as you will see the result of this is VERY beneficial to the company, the industry, AND the general online (and offline) public.

For now, I will just say that by Rev making no effort to stay connected with the rejected applicant OR give them a quick little push forward they are breaking a cardinal rule of the new information age – in which “CONTENT (and CONNECTIONS) is king.” – and actually missing out on potential opportunities which will benefit their company’s reputation and profit margin, while at the same time creating a group of disgruntled rejected applicants who have naturally gone right on ahead and voiced this resentment on various popular transcription industry forums. This, of course, is bad publicity – but of the kind which could easily be AVOIDED. My point here is that by a simple change in marketing strategy (with some basic DIPLOMACY thrown in) Rev could easily provide their rejected applicants with some helpful guidance (perhaps directing them to their blog, or some other helpful, free resources for beginning transcriptionists) instead of just issuing a cold email which tends to make the applicant feel inadequate and bitter for wasting their valuable time and energy,  likely during a period of unemployment, where are overly stressed and struggling financially.

*** Disclaimer : As I stated previously on this blog, any critique I make of the online transcription companies is intended ONLY as CONSTRUCTIVE criticism based on my own personal experience, both in dealing with these companies AND as an experienced online marketer. My comments are intended to HELP and offer constructive suggestions. In addition, if any representatives of these companies wish to contact me and discuss the issue further I am MORE than happy to offer additional constructive suggestions/consultation free of charge. My main goal is always to make the internet a BETTER place for everyone, as I believe that this technology is the most powerful innovation in recorded history, and which has the power to dramatically transform the world and the quality of life of the majority of the people who inhabit this planet (and perhaps other planets) into the future – ESPECIALLY the vast number of those people who live in abject poverty throughout the less developed countries of the world.

I welcome your feedback, and can be reached for further discussion at any time via email at :

TranscriptJunky@gmail.com

or

https://twitter.com/TranscriptJunky

Okay. That being said, even though the application to Rev was not successful in the sense of actually being accepted into their system and thus being able to benefit from their alleged high-quality training program and member support system, the process HAS been beneficial in that I was able to leanr some valuable information by analyzing their web presence and see a good example of how one of the more tech-savvy companies is utilizing the power of internet technology to streamline their operation and make the application process straightforward for applicants.

Being now a bit battle-hardened – and thus even more determined to succeed – I decided to turn my research again to the online community for a good lead on the next online transcription company I should evaluate and possible apply to. This is another major benefit of the transcription forums. They provide you with the REAL information you need (through consensus) to minimize wasted time and energy on the lower quality companies). A few members of the Transcription Haven forum had given positive reviews of the TranscribeMe company. At first, I was hesitant to follow up on this company primarily because the reviews generally described that the audio transcription files are very short (a maximum of one minute for the transcription audio files). I couldn’t understand how this would be feasible to most people. In my opinion, this eliminates one of the most important motivating factors in transcription, which is to learn some information from the files you are transcribing. This, of course, would be difficult if the files are only one-minute long. However, it turns out that my confusing (while PARTIALLY valid) was due mainly to the fact that I did not more fully understand the system by which this company operated. That is, it uses global CROWDSOURCING to break the longer files into multiple one-minute sections, which enables the small sections to be transcribed faster, and then reassembles them. You can also work your way up the “QA” (Quality Assurance) level, at which point you are then able to work on the full audio files (resulting from to reassembled collection of one-minute segments).

In addition, I was discovering that the few cautious attempts I had made at transcribing the rather long (usually over 30 minutes) audio files made available by the first (current) transcription company I am freelancing for were quite a bit overwhelming in general. I was able to get them done, but felt that I just didn’t have the skill level necessary to do so in a relatively comfortable, or timely manner. Therefore, I had been working mainly on the editing projects at the current company and only taking on the shortest and easiest transcriptions. I was starting to think that being able to work on smaller files of only a few minutes in maximum length may be just what I needed as a stepping stone to more advanced work. It was also brought to my attention through the forums that TranscribeMe provides a well designed training program that you progress through as PART OF the application process. In other words, they are providing you with some VALUABLE free training, which helps you build confidence and experience, EVEN IF, you are rejected for some reason. I went on my intuition and the information in the reviews, and it turns out that deciding to pursue TranscribeMe was INDEED a good decision, at least for a next few months, and as the intended stepping stone.

In accordance with the research and evaluation strategy I have developed and documented on this blog so far, I will proceed through the standard steps of : (1) evaluating the web presence of the company, and then (2) proceeding through the application process if the evaluation proves appropriate.

As soon as you arrive at the main page of TranscribeMe.com you can tell that this company is not messing around. The design of the web site is top-notch, including an inviting color scheme, scrolling graphic article links, a clear link to their blog right at the top and bottom of the page, testimonials, accessible link to the section for transcribers, clear information to their star transcription app product, and more). You get the sense that they have put a lot of time and effort in presenting as much information of value to ALL of the many and different kinds of visitors who arrive at the site, and doing so in a manner which is easy for the visitor to find the information they need.

At this point I am quite a bit overwhelmed by the sheer AMOUNT of information on this site and so I decide to follow my visual instinct and click on the scrolling article with the pretty picture of their free mobile transcription app. The app page opens to reveal an excellent, comprehensive run-down on their very valuable (especially for the price – FREE) mobile app which allows the user to record audio, upload it to the TranscribeMe site and order a transcription right through their smartphone. On the page they have a few good static pictures of the app and description on how to use it. The level of streamlining (both in terms of technology and marketing) which they have achieved is quite commendable.

After being highly impressed by their mobile transcription app I decided to head over to the blog to see what other kind of valuable information the savvy marketing people at TranscribeMe were putting out. I figured that before even attempting to focus on their transcription work opportunities I would first evaluate the quantity and quality of free information they have put out for the benefit of the web community. In this way we can make a decent assessment of where their business philosophy and mission are at, and do so by evaluating the ACTUAL actions they have taken in putting content out for public consumption. After all, as the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”

So I head right over to the TranscribeMe blog which is clearly and easily accessible via the “blog” menu link clearly positioned right at the top of the page. Upon opening the main blog page I am grateful see a proper and very professionally executed blog (with all of the standard blog formatting that people are accustomed to (as opposed to the less polished/functional “text-only” main blog page at the Rev site). They also have on display their email newsletter sign-up form and Twitter and Facebook profile links clearly and immediately on the right side of the page. In other words they have taken great effort to make be user-friendly and attempt to connect with people who constitute their various target markets (transcription customers, transcribers, etc.)

With just a quick browse through the ten blog posts on the first page it is clear that the people at TranscribeMe are making a SERIOUS effort to cater to the information needs of EVERY segment of their overall market. A few of the posts on that first page which immediately catch my interest are :

1. TranscribeMe : Creating Jobs For Unlikely Candidates

2. How is TranscribeMe Different From Other Freelance Job Sites?

and

3. TranscribeMe Represents A Work Platform For The Future

While the post titles are interesting enough, I decide to click through to read the third article and get a feel for the quality of information they are putting out. As expected, the article is very well executed. In a clearly written and concise 412-word article they describe how TranscribeMe’s revolutionary, high tech micro-tasking system allows transcription jobs to be most efficiently completed through breaking each job up into manageable sections and distributing them to a massive global “crowd” (a.k.a. “crowdsourcing”) of experienced transcriptionists. In the end, this process produces the most time and cost effective solution to transcription and benefits all parties involved – the customer, the transcribers and the company itself. The post also talks about the multitude of work and continuing education training opportunities available to transcribers who work for the company, as well as their very helpful Yammer internal social media communication platform which provides highly efficient means of communicating and collaborating with the thousands of other workers in the organization, who are distributed throughout the world.

By the time I finish reading this article I feel like I have gained some excellent and practical knowledge about the company, the whole industry, the overall opportunity which TranscribeMe can offer me as a “newbie” transcriptionist, and the sense that collaborating with this company will provide significant benefits for personal growth and career development into the future, for however long it is feasible.

This is an excellent example of what a high quality blog presence look like. They provide valuable information to their target reader. After reading this article I am highly motivated to read MORE of there articles, and I will do exactly that (likely one post per day) in the coming days. In addition, if I decide to follow through with their online freelance transcription application I will have more than enough of their blog content to work through BOTH while I wait for the results of the test AND/OR if I my application should be rejected I will still be able to continue benefiting from the information they put out regularly on the blog.

Also, considering that they have OTHER major products BESIDES their transcription service (for example, their mobile app) it would only make sense that TranscribeMe would have it in their interest to maintain the connection with ANYONE who comes to the site (whether it be prospective transcribers, potential app/transcription customers, etc.) as – like in my personal case – many people likely first come to the TranscribeMe web site UNAWARE of the free mobile app they offer, and thus by discovering the information on the app they are transformed into potential transcribers AND customers. It’s a win-win situation. This is a good example of professional level marketing strategy, and even if I don’t get the chance to work as a transcriptionist for TranscribeMe they have already earned my respect for their professional online marketing savvy, and will certainly have me as a customer who will use their mobile transcription app into the future if that ever becomes necessary.

I think it is best to let the reader absorb the girth of information presented in this post by concluding here. In the next post I plan to continue my evaluation of the TranscribeMe site, focusing on the freelance transcription section of the site and (likely) moving through the application process. For now I suggest the reader have a look around their site, browse the blog and read a few posts to get a feel for their operation.

Day 4 : Plugging Into the Virtual Global Community : The Lifeline of the Freelance Transcriptionist

crowd

Following right along with the plan, I spent the day evaluating the trickle of new jobs which rolled onto the “available jobs” board of the online system. The experience of the past few days has shown that there seem to be batches of regular, ongoing projects which arrive in waves and then pass. The current regular project at this time is a “focus group” type of setup. Basically, it is 30 minute audio files recorded in a classroom setting. The problem is that the recording set up is far from ideal, there are many speakers who often speak over each other, and many of them are native Spanish speaking (second language English speakers) who often interject Spanish terms and sentences into their speech. This is in addition to the often heavy accents of BOTH the students AND (often) the teachers themselves (many of whom are immigrants from Asian countries). The bottom line is that these are NOT the ideal kind of files for the newbie to be working on to build confidence and motivation. Early success is key to progress in ANY endeavor.

I listened to several of the files, but just found them to be so boring and complicated that I decided it was not worth the aggravation to attempt to transcribe them. However, I did accept a few to edit. Although the editing was indeed tedious and boring (as expected) it was at least a chance to get a feel for how the other transcribers were handling the transcription of these audio files. The good thing about being able to choose to edit, instead of only transcribing, is that you take less risk of failing to do the job properly, yet you benefit from being able to follow along with the various methods and styles of the actual transcriber. While some are done well, and others terrible, you learn through example from each one.  By doing this you gain confidence by seeing what the transcriber has done right, wrong and the variations of correct and incorrect transcribing techniques that different transcribers use.

In addition, it is not like you are taking the easy way out by choosing to edit. Having a separate person edit/proofread the transcription is indeed a very valuable component to the overall process, and produces the highest quality end product for the client. The editor often catches subtle mistakes that the transcriber missed – especially in long transcription files where the transcriber grew tired over time and their accuracy level declined (especially towards the latter portion of the transcript. as they are using racing against a deadline). In addition, the editor may very well likely be able to decipher some of the words the original transcriber couldn’t. Thus, including this additional editing/proofreading step into the production process has a significant positive effect on the quality of the final product. This benefits everyone : the company, the transcribers/editors and the customer.

Since  there was a general shortage of new files coming on to the available job board which I judged to be interesting and easy enough to take on, I started feeling the desire to find out more information about what kinds of jobs I could expect from the company and the general frequency that I could expect new jobs to be posted to the available job board. As a result of this I looked around the site to find more information. Unfortunately, the only information available was that on the FAQs page and that information was quite slim. The only way to contact the company administration was through the inline email form on the “support” page or a direct email to support@xxxx.com.  In fact, I had already sent them an email with a few questions the day before and had gotten no response. I began to get concerned. This lack of adequate communication with the company was making me nervous (especially since I had done several hours of work up to this point and I was now concerned about potential payment problems).

As an experienced online marketer I am well aware of the value of proper communication between an online organization and its consumers. While I had been impressed by the professional design presentation of the company’s overall web site (including their polished recruiting and testing systems) I was now beginning to see that the equally important communication element was nowhere up to par with the former. In addition, there was no system set up to have communication with the other freelancers who were transcribing/editing for the company. The combination of my intuition and experience begins raising some red flags, calling into question the integrity of the company. I motivate myself with the fact that if this turns out to NOT be a legitimate opportunity I should AT LEAST take maximum advantage of the overall learning opportunity presented so far.

At this potential crisis point my experience in online marketing and social media kicked in and I immediately began to initiate what I like to call “the connection process”. Since I had already been a member of the “Freelance Editing Network” group on LinkedIn, and had made some excellent connections and gained great information there, my first impulse was to search the LinkedIn groups for something more specific to the “transcription” task at hand. Sure enough, LinkedIn has a fine “Transcription” group to fill the exact need for connection and information that I have at this point. This specific group is an “open” one, and so immediately upon request my membership was confirmed and I was able to begin reading through the posts and initiate the process of building connections.

On the LinkedIn groups and/or industry forums I always like to practice the proper etiquette of taking some time to read some posts before posting. Often the question(s) you have will already have been addressed and the older members of the group/board will prefer that new people make their presence known more gradually and subtly. What I usuallly do is read some posts, “like” some of the comments, and if one of the members really has something interesting to say I will click “reply privately” and send a polite and brief comment. Usually I introduce myself a little, inform them that I am new in the group, and open for information if they care to share any tips with a “newbie”. In general, if you approach members politely and strategically most are glad to offer some helpful tips, suggest some resources, and often refer you to some helpful connections in their personal network. Just try to avoid asking them for information which is already posted somewhere on the group board. Many groups have a special introduction section where new members can post their information, situation and needs. Be sure to take advantage of this.

As evidence of the power and effectiveness of the LinkedIn groups, I was able – within an hour of reading a few threads – to gather a few powerful leads to several more online transcription companies (similar to the current company I was connected with). It turns out that there are HUNDREDS of these online transcription companies, AND that they vary in the specific niches they serve, the type of work they offer to transcribers, and the quality of their operations and transcription file audio quality. Thus it only seemed logical to gather the names and web site addresses of some of these companies (specifically the most highly rated) and take some time each day to evaluate their sites and proceed through the application process if the quality was adequate. I spent a few minutes doing just that. This process is another important element of the research process. Through the groups and forums you are able to get reviews of these companies by the many people who have had actual experience working for them. Reading through the threads you can CLEARLY get a sense of which companies to court, and which ones to avoid like the plague.

The best lead I got on that first browse through the group was a post made by the owner and moderator of the top-notch Transcription Haven forum. Her post in the linked in group was very informative, so I decided to follow through to the forum and register. As it is a closed forum you need to pass a quick quality check. The moderator basically sends you an email shortly after you register asking you to answer a few questions to prove that you are serious about being a member (ex. using the forum information to legitimately develop your transcription skills and not being a troublemaker). They also ask how you found the forum. So I figured the best response would be to refer to the post I read in the LinkedIn group. I also mentioned clearly that I had “no intention of causing trouble”. I sent the email off and within a few minutes I got a verification email with username and password and was able to log in to the forum.

As if the LinkedIn “Transcription” group wasn’t helpful enough, the Transcription Haven forum is a VERY professional and user-friendly gold mine of information on essentially everything related to the transcription world. The forum is clean, welcoming, very well organized and a pleasant social venue above and beyond all of the quality information related to all things transcription. As the sheer amount of information is vast I proceeded as I always do with dense web resources – that is, one post at a time. Starting with the “Introductions” section I began reading a few posts per day to get a feel for the kind of people who are involved in the transcription world. For those who resonated specifically well with my situation I sent them a quick introductory PM (private message). Within hours I was already getting very valuable responses with advice and links. Over the next few days members were introducing me to additional online companies who I was able to connect with and get more work. Members often post leads for immediate projects and short term overload work. In the coming days I spend an hour or two per day getting familiar with the various sections of the forum (including : “Motivation and Moral Support”, “Tips, Tools and Tricks-Of-The-Trade”, “Vent Away” and more) and working through three or four threads per day.

The bottom line is that there are NUMEROUS resources which exist which are absolutely free, and which can get you moving along in the development of your transcription career if you have decent research skills and are willing to do the footwork. More importantly, you can see how my situation changed so quickly from working in frustrated isolation with a company which provided no sort of mechanism to connect with colleagues to one in which I had established a direct line of communication with a vast GLOBAL network of supportive and experienced people working in the field I was in the process of moving into. I can’t stress what a difference it makes to have this support. Especially in the digital age of social media, it is common knowledge that networking is the most powerful component for success in any endeavor.

In the next post we will look at the process of evaluating the various online transcription companies, and developing your research strategy for helping avoid some of the scams which manage to get past the radar of the online transcription community.