About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

The Few. The Proud. The Transcribers.

One hundred typists at one hundred computers might just possibly create the Great American Debate Archive.

I'm one of those typists. I've been helping out at The UpTake, watching tapes of the Minnesota Gubernatorial debates and typing text documents of what is said.
Typing, typing, typing isn't sexy work. But it’s important work.
Transcripts enable videos to be closed captioned on YouTube and on theuptake.org. In the case of the Gubernatorial debates, closed captioning opens them up to an audience which previously didn't have access, says Mike McIntee, Executive Producer of The UpTake. 
According to the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans, hearing loss is believed to affect five to ten percent of Minnesota voters. The number of eligible voters in Minnesota is 3.72 million, according to Dr. Michael McDonald of George Mason University. Even when you take into account unregistered voters and non-participating voters, five to ten percent represents a lot of votes.

If you rely on closed captioning, you know that auto-generated captions leave a lot to be desired. Text is missing. Spelling is butchered. The meaning of what is said can change dramatically.
Here's an example from GameFair, where the Gubernatorial candidates debated before an audience of hunting and fishing enthusiasts. 
What was said: Tom Meersman did a fine story about shoreline development in the Brainerd Lakes area.

What was decodedtime is needed to find story about showing a bomb in the brain or lakes area
What was said: Isn't a walleye meal a Minnesota tradition?

What was decoded: he's in the limelight New York minute set of traditional
The Legacy Amendment became the latest CNN. The Castle Doctrine became the Catholic Doctrine. Dog parks became thought parks.
It can be hard enough to make decisions when you hear everything clearly. Try making decisions based on garbled content. 
Increased voter access can make a huge difference. The U.S. Senate recount in 2008 took eight months to complete. Al Franken won by a margin of 312 votes. The UpTake livestreamed and live-blogged the entire recount and trial. 
So how about it? Join the few, the proud, the transcribers. All you need is a computer with an Internet connection and the movie viewer Quicktime, which is a free download. To get started, email info@theuptake.org. Grab some of your friends and plow through a debate together as you chuckle over the auto-generated transcript. You'll feel proud when you see your finished result. I guarantee it.

Note: Thank you to MinnPost for publishing this post in their Minnesota Blog Cabin Program. 

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