When you get right down to it, a large portion of the Internet can be seen as a transcribed account of modern life. A vast collection of ideas, stories, news and information — just reading through a fraction of the written content available online would give any outsider a fairly detailed glimpse of what it means to live in our world today. Of course, the Internet is also home to countless videos, audio recordings, and images — but these are not as easily searchable or indexed — that is, unless the words which accompany them are transcribed into text. This accessibility is the crux of transcription’s importance today, because although our current search tools are quick, simple to use, and powerful, they can only search text — which is why transcribing visual and audio content is the key to expanding the potential helpfulness and “searchability” of this kind of content.
But online transcription’s usefulness extends far beyond the reaches of the Internet. In fact, transcription is a pivotal part of the way many of us process, store and share information in our daily lives — and it touches far more areas than many people realize. Here are eleven ways in which online transcription plays a large role in a wide range of industries, hobbies, and professions:
Legal Transcription Court hearings, depositions, audio or video footage presented as evidence, witness statements — these materials are often transcribed to render them more accessible and easier to be reviewed by judges, lawyers and juries. When a video or audio file is played in court, providing a transcript of it ensures that everyone gleans the same information from the video and there is no room for misinterpretation.
Academic Transcription There are many materials in the academic world whose transcription benefits students and professors alike. Think interviews, videos and other source materials for research papers, not to mention class lectures and seminars. Some prestigious colleges and universities now offer the content of many of their courses free online; these offerings usually include transcripts of lectures. The fact that anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can watch a video or read a transcribed lecture from a class at Yale University represents a thrilling and inspirational advance in educational accessibility.
Market Research Transcription If you’re going to take the trouble to gather feedback and other data by conducting focus groups, interviews and other outreach, it is wise to ensure that you make the most of the data you collect, by recording this material and transcribing it. This guarantees that you will have a clean, accurate record of exactly how your participants responded, so that the nuances of their reactions and observations can be carefully reviewed, making your data as useful as possible.
Lecture/Presentation Transcription While hearing a lecture is helpful to many, others prefer a written account. And, depending on the topic, certain subject matter can be better absorbed by reading it instead of hearing it. Letting an audience know that a transcription of your lecture or presentation will be available to them afterwards is also a helpful way to ensure that listeners can relax and enjoy your lecture without worrying that they will need to take notes, which might cause them to miss some of it. Also, a transcribed lecture is a lot easier to search for ideas they may like to revisit than an audio version.
Sermon Transcription Many religious organizations are making recordings as well as transcripts of sermons and other religious services available to members and the general public alike. (Note: This should not be taken as an excuse to sleep in on Sunday and then look up a transcript of the day's sermon).
Keynote Speeches Offering a transcription of your event’s keynote speech is an excellent way to give it staying power. When a keynote speech is given but not recorded for posterity, it impacts only the audience that happened to be there at the time; when a transcribed version is available online, its reach is hugely amplified — and in a format that is perfect to use as a marketing tool for your organization. Your keynote speaker will also be impressed that you valued his or her remarks enough to create a transcript of them.
Podcast Transcription Since some people prefer reading information to hearing it, offering a transcription of your podcast gives your audience another format through which to absorb your material, thereby increasing its reach. Podcast transcriptions are also valuable for the hearing-impaired, who otherwise would not have access to your great content. A transcript makes your podcast infinitely more searchable online, so that it is more likely to be found by a wider audience. Finally, it gives listeners a better way to go back and quickly find any information or material they were looking to revisit in your podcast, without having to skip around in the audio file — which will probably discourage them from bothering.
Business Transcription There are many situations in the day to day life of a business in which transcription is a helpful way to catalogue and store information. Businesses are increasingly turning to transcription to store and archive accurate recordings of meetings, important phone calls, and interviews.
Video Transcription Unless your video includes a transcription, it will be difficult for your audience to find it by searching online. Even if you use keywords to help search engines find it, you may not always know what aspect of your video people are looking for, so you may not use the keywords that would be the most helpful to people searching for your video. Providing a transcribed copy of your video also allows people to quickly scan its contents to see if it is something they would like to watch, rather than only watching the first few minutes to decide — which, if those minutes are not representative of the video as a whole, may dissuade some viewers from giving it a chance.
Medical Transcription Since any type of patient information must be documented in a patient’s file, it’s crucial for all procedures, notes, and other related material of every kind to be recorded and transcribed so that it can be included. Since medical terminology is extremely specialized, it is important that medical transcriptionists be well-versed in the medical field.
Dissertation Transcription Dissertations require an enormous amount of research and preparation, including materials from a variety of sources — many of which may be in audio format. Anyone who has tried to write an article or a research paper using quotes and information from a recorded interview knows that this is an extremely difficult, time-consuming and often frustrating task. Having your interviews transcribed makes them much easier to work with — and anything that lightens the load of a dissertation writer is a good thing indeed.