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Sunday, December 25, 2005



You're so right.

Granted, the index/search factor would be improved using transcripts instead of show notes, but you either risk people reading the 'script instead of listening - which defeats the Podcast and kills the impact and benefits of audio/voice - or you simply waste valuable time/effort/money in transcribing something that is already easily accessible (hmm... except for the deaf... but you don't see extensive transcripts of radio either).

Maybe you're right - maybe it is a bunch of geeks trying to adopt a practice that's "possible" though unnecessary - but perhaps they don't understand the advantages of audio/voice because they lack the social dexterity to see value in human speech over written word.

Maybe you're right - maybe it is a bunch of geeks trying to adopt a practice that's "possible" though unnecessary - but perhaps they don't understand the advantages of audio/voice because they lack the social dexterity to see value in human speech over written word.

Paul Montgomery

It's all about Googlejuice.

Hey Cameron, where's the Tequp podcast?

Michael Henderson

> So where's the additional value?

The benefits of a transcription service seem obvious to me. The text is searchable, indexable, quotable... (i'm sure there are more) Important to me, is that I can consume it in a fraction of the time. It doesn't mean I will always choose reading over listening.

You're also assuming that subscribing to a show's feed directly is the only way your content is received. I use Odeo in another way -- grabbing single episodes from here and there that sound interesting. The choice to grab an episode is based on - you guessed it - the metadata! Which is usually a bland, uninformative two line summary (Show Notes)

Good episodes lead to me subscribing to the show proper. No transcription could therefore be costing you potential listeners.

> (hmm... except for the deaf... but you
> don't see extensive transcripts of radio
> either).

Perhaps not by commercial radio, but look at the ABC's website - it contains extensive transcriptions of their AM radio service.

Next look at video.google.com -- they ask you to provide a transcription of the movie when submitting. Why? Without metadata, it's just an opaque block of "stuff". How else can it be discovered or indexed?



Happy Christmas everyone.

Been thinking (dangerous, I know) about this idea.

1. How do I currently use transcript?

About half a dozen times a year, I'll hear/see something that I want to re-hear/re-see.

The most recent example was an interview during Channel 9's Business Sunday program. It was an interview with the Head of Newmont Mining, Pierre Lassonde.

In it, he comments about inflation not staying low because of governments printing funny money!

First thought was, did he really say that?

I mean I know everybody thinks inflation is going to stay at two percent, I don’t believe it. There has been way too much money printing in the world for that to happen. I just look at my experience from the nineteen seventies...

YES, he really did say it!.

2. How does this MSM usage relate to Podcast usage?


The MSM interview was not being recorded, so I could not just replay it.
Frequency of usage (6 per annum).
Cost of producing the New Media transcript.
Accuracy of the New Media transcript.

If I can just go back and replay the Podcast again, do I really need any transcripts?

For direct usage, I don’t see much of a reason to do transcript.

So ultimately come down to indirect value to the transcript producer. Is the full transcript better value than good abstracts?

Have a great Boxing Day all!


Historic sidenote.
In 1971 President Tricky Dickey removed the US from the Gold Standard. This was so he could print lots and lots of money to fund the war in Vietnam. This when combined with the 1970s Oil Shocks, lead to very high inflation. In Australia inflation peaked at over 20 percent per annum. Inflation remained high (over 8%, my definition) in Australia, until the recession on the early 90’s and the austerity programs on the early Howard Governments.

Cameron Reilly

Paul - I decided that most of the reponses to my questions at tequp were so woefully lame that I wouldn't put them up. I might pull out one or two and insert them into my next regular show.

Rob Irwin

>Am I missing something?

Yes. Some people prefer reading stuff, searching text, etc. Seems to be a great value-add to my mind.

Cameron Reilly

You want to READ podcasts? I don't get it. Like there isn't already enough stuff to read on the frikkin web? I'm not even getting through my RSS feeds more than once a month as it is.

See - that's why I love podcasts. I get to consume citizen media WITHOUT having to read the damn stuff. I can consume it when I'm not sitting in front of my PC.

As for the "google can index it" argument, I still say shownotes already does that. The metadata about the show is ALREADY in text. Is a blow by blow account of the show REALLY going to matter? I take Michael's point though that the shownotes should be pretty descriptive.

Phillip Molly Malone

I am a show notes kind of guy as well but I can understand that there would be a value to having a transcript as well.

My reading skills are Shizen Houzen so I love podcasts but some people wouldn't. Some people would never listen to an audio file but might read a transcript. So a question to you Cam, are you in the audio business or are you in the information/interesting conversation business? If you say the later (and it would seem thats the case by your reason thought of moving your blog to TPN), does it matter if its audio or written as long as the people that want to consume that information can find the information and find it in a format that they wish to consume?

Also, lets say you have a great interview by lets say John Howard (Aussie Prime Minister) that lots of people would want to consume. Should you be turning people away because you believe in podcasting? There may be an argument that you want to incourage poeple to listen to podcasts so offering it in written form would lessen the likelyhood of a newbie trying the podcast when they get the information from the Transcript, but there is also the argument that you shouldn't turn away a customer.

On a slight off topic of this debate, I wondered for a while whether you and Mick had done enough work on the monetization of the TPN site? Whether you wouldn't earn a little more income from on the blog ads and possibly affliating products you talk about on the site itself.

I guess in conclusion, I personally would use transcripts if it was a free service and think there is a value in it.

JMTC. Merry Christmas to you all.


Rob Irwin

Yeah, I want to read it... totally!

Podcasts are even worse than blogs insofar as there not being enough time to listen to them. Because, ultimately, unless you're a fan of hitting the pause button all the time, the times when you can sit and listen to something properly are much less than the times when you can read a short blog entry or two.

I'm subscribed to the Ricky Gervais podcast - and I'd love to listen to it - but I've heard about 5 minutes of episode one thus far. And I've been on holidays ALL MONTH (!!!)

And then there are loads of podcasts that you'd never subscribe to in a million years, but let's say that one of them, one day, might have something you're interested in. Are you really going to seek it out via show notes, then download it, then mess round to listen to the pertinent bit on the podcast? Or is it easier to find it as clean, referenceable text from the get go?

I see transcription is a great value add; a great adjunct... no one's making anyone do it. But I reckon a quality podcast WITH transcription, would generate more interest than a quality podcast on its own.

Des Paroz

On the Google indexing meme of this discussion.

In theory its nice, but don't forget that Google works not just on indexing but by quantifying and qualifying the inbound and outbound links. Linking is an art, not a science. An automated service can not be selective enough, or smart enough to recognise the subtle nuances that people utilise when linking.


I was never really one for huge detailed shownotes, but I am a person who has a 2hr commut each way and also listens to podcasts at work as well. I mostly don't listen to podcasts at home so shownotes aren't that important but I was listening to the Geekcast podcast yesterday and went to the shownotes he has on his site when listening and they were almost a complete transcript. They were between shownotes and a detailed transcript and I think it worked pretty good.

There maybe some shows where a transcript would be ok but there are some shows that just wouldn't work with just a transcript only. I guess what I am saying I think in some circumstances a transcript would be good and some cases it's not. You will have to decide for yourself. I wouldn't see the harm in providing both though. Some people absorb information by looking/reading rather than hearing it and it may increase peoples understanding of some of your shows, especially some of the shows that are slighty detailed or have an expertise that most of us aren't familiar with.

Paul Montgomery

Well geez Cameron, if you start refraining from uploading podcasts because they're too lame, that's a dangerous precedent to set. G'Day World updates could become much less frequent!

Cameron Reilly

them's fighting words Paul. If you're not careful you'll end up on my list.

Paul Montgomery

I thought I was already on it. To misquote Oscar: any list that would have me on it, I don't want to be on.


I'm with Rob on the issue of lack of convenience when accessing audio - there aren't enough minutes in the day when I'm able to listen to audio without being constantly distracted, and I find that If I listen while I'm doing something else, nothing sinks in - it becomes background noise...

So at the moment I make time to sit down and stare at a blank wall to listen to podcasts just for the cool factor... hmmm maybe I need an ipod in my car after all...

Nevertheless, I'm not so sure that reading podcasts would take _less_ time as such, and you completely loose the whole conversation factor - imagine Ricky Gervais' podcast in written text - boring as hell without the expression and laughter!


It would all depend on the podcast of course Steve. A music podcast would be pointless with a transcript but maybe something like G'Day World and some orf the more technical shows would benefit from them for the reasons you suggest.

I am lucky in that I can listen to my iPod at work but I usually only do so in 1 ear so I can still hear things around me. In those cases I am either listening to music shows or some light entertainment shows as opposed to something heavy like maybe shows Cam has done with Noam Chomsky or Ray Kurzweil. Those are pretty intesnse shows and if your not listening 00% most of it will go over your head. Being able to go back afterwards, or even while listening, and reading a transcript would make things a lot easier to understand.

Just my 2 cents

Rob Irwin

That's a good point, Steve, and as I mentioned in my own blog about this, transcription makes absolutely no sense for some kinds of shows. Ewan's music show was my example... perhaps Ricky Gervais would be another. But for some podcasts - perhaps Cam talking to Noam - yeah, definitely. It's a great idea. A value add. An adjunct. As I've been saying all along. That's the point of it.

Cameron Reilly

Paul - you're actually misquoting Groucho I believe.

Rob - if you don't have time to listen to podcasts then you aren't our target audience. You're the adjunct, not the transcription service. :-)

In summary on this subject, I concede that a transcription would have some value, but I still think it is minimal value add for our real listeners. For those of you who contend that you don't have time to listen to podcasts, then I guess you aren't our primary audience anyway.

Kirk Drage

Hey Cam, It’s been a while….nice work with TPN!

In my mind it’s all about transparency in aiding self-organization, the network will decide its value. Don’t dis it if it’s not evil…

Personally, I’d like the capability which allows me to search for interesting phrases in Podcasts and then automatically download the results and queue up a playlist which begins the track 60 seconds before the phrase was mentioned…

There needs to be randomizing mechanisms (mutations) in a self organizing system – How to I find new Podcasts? I have my personal network which will link me to things, but that can generate a degree of sameness…

Cameron Reilly

Hey Kirk, thanks man. Nice to hear from ya. WRT your searching, what kind of phrases are you going to be searching on that you don't think shownotes will contain?

Rob Irwin

Cam, you should do a survey to see how many people actually listen to every show they might be subscribed to. Indeed, how many actually subscribe, versus how many dip into shows that sound interesting? I fall into that latter category for G'day World, for example, and I doubt I'm the Lone Ranger.


Rob - I know from the stats that at least half our audience come in via the webpage, not via RSS. But you said you'd downloaded Gervais' podcast but hadn't listened to it in a month. Why? Because it isn't funny? No, it's as funny as hell.

Kirk Drage

Hmmm...Imagine that I’ve just read “The Singularity” by Mr Kurzweil (Which I have. I'm keen to listen to your interview with Ray, saving it for my Houseboat cruise in a few days) and I’m interested in finding out how others are interpreting it’s contents. The book covers a vast array of subjects (Nanotechnology, Longevity, Robotics, etc etc), a Podcast on any one of these subjects could spawn a cursory mention and a related discussion thet Parallels a perspective shared in the book. It is unlikely that this would get mentioned in the shownotes unless it was a core focus, yet the relationship between the sub-discussion and the book might be very strong and worth my attention...

It’s inevitable that all audio on the Net will be indexed...may as well learn how to embrace and maximize it. I’d imagine that search engines of the future will be a sort of “personal neural net” which would be created by measuring the strengths of relationships of people and information. I search for “The Singularity” – I know you and you’ve mentioned it and you know Ray, so you get a very high rating relative to me – so people you know and information they know will have a stronger connection to me they some dude I don’t know who mentions Ray in their blog etc... It’s early days but Microsoft is working on stuff like this http://research.microsoft.com/community/snarf/ There is a neural net style representation of topics on www.kurzweilai.net too...all these technologies are converging - it's called the Singularity you know :-)


Podcasting came to be known due to its ability to let people listen to something rather than go through the contents. But if something has to be found on the search engines(especially google),a transcription is the only way that it will make its way on the top of the ranks.With transcription,one can reach out to deaf audiences too...
There are many podcast transcription services which have been in the transcription field for many years.Their pre-existing infrastructure and expertise is of great help in podcast transcriptioning.


enjoyed the discussion. any chance you would reverse your color scheme, and use black for text and white or light color for background? reading your otherwise scintillating blog would be easier. the data forever has shown that white text on dark loses readers due to huge eye strain. thanks so much for your attention.

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