If he were alive today, Nostradamus could perhaps tell us a thing or two about what to expect in the future. But he still wouldn’t have anything on audio transcription, the great future predictor of today. Pshaw, you say? Read on.
Audio transcriptionists, such as those at Verbal Ink, listen to a recording and then type it as a written transcript. Written documents make it easier to spot patterns and spotting patterns, in turn, makes it easier to “predict the future.”
That is, readers can analyze texts of audio transcriptions to gain a better understanding and form a deeper analysis of what was said. Ultimately, the preservation of spoken words through audio transcription can give readers easy access to strings of past statements that can be interpreted as harbingers of what’s to come in such diverse fields as academia, medicine, economics, law, and technology.
Let’s Hear it for the Scribes
Transcriptionists of the ancient past were scribes who recorded sacred texts and literature, preserving the legacies of our earliest civilizations. In many ways, modern-day audio transcriptionists are simply continuing what the early scribes started. But instead of writing in hieroglyphics, today’s transcriptionists work with digital audio files to preserve significant societal discourse – from a journalist’s recorded interview with a key source to a governor’s taped State of the State address to a keynote speaker at a graduation.
The transcribed documents are there to read again and again whether the reporter has to check on a quotation, a politician has a quibble over a factoid, or a graduating senior wants to review her pop idol’s words of wisdom. More importantly, written texts provide the discerning reader with the means to discover and analyze connected ideas. In this way, analysis of multiple transcripts can uncover nuggets of information that allow the reader to “see” into the future.
Seeing the Future Through Audio Transcription
Academics, for example, can review transcripts of recorded classes in which professors and students have exchanged and dissected complex ideas. The review of the transcripts could help the Joycean scholar find the missing link in her argument for her dissertation on “Ulysses” that she likely would not have figured out merely by listening to the scholar teaching the class or the math sensation can piece together steps that he predicts will finally solve the seemingly unsolvable puzzle. In similar ways, a medical doctor’s analysis of patient transcripts could lead to insights into patient care or a medical scientist’s examination of health conference transcriptions could bring about a breakthrough in a cure for a life-threatening disease. An economist, after poring over transcripts of economic experts’ lectures on stock market behavior, could predict the Wall Street boom that will occur within five years… and the bust that will occur in ten years.
Legal and technological transcriptions can also yield prescient results. A lawyer could find the evidence that proves his client’s innocence through an analysis of court transcripts and a close-up look at meeting transcripts could trigger a technology whiz kid’s development of an emotive computer.
Back to the Futurology
There’s a word for this phenomenon – well, actually two: collective intelligence, which is the term used to describe a systematic sharing of ideas through books, academic papers, the news media, and other sources. Futurology, or the study or prediction of future developments on the basis of existing conditions, stresses the value of the written word, including transcriptions, in achieving collective intelligence.
In a 2011 BBC News report about the growth in the field of futurology, professional futurists maintained that there are patterns and pointers to the future that can be discerned and measured – right now. These futurists say that collective intelligence can lead to educated predictions and awareness. Dr. Kalev H. Leetaru, a university fellow at the University of Illinois’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, has even applied collective intelligence to predict political unrest by showing, according to the article, that “many of the events which characterized the Arab Spring were foreshadowed by months and years of changing ‘sentiment’ in available literature.”
Here and Now
Audio transcription provides one of the key methods of spotting patterns that lead to what lies ahead in the future. Keep in mind that, to get to that point, transcriptionists have to succeed where computers with speech recognition software might fail.
Industry-specific terminology, American English idioms, pop culture references, and ever-evolving slang have been known to stymie well-intentioned computer programs. Additionally, a typical speaker’s style of communicating contains loads of “ums,” “uhs,” and “ers” along with starts and stops to sentences, grammatical errors, and other idiosyncrasies. Accents and dialects as well as the rattle, clang, and bang of everyday background noise only add to the difficulties of deciphering the delicious intricacies of human speech.
However, a skilled transcriptionist can overcome all of these pitfalls – no crystal balls needed!