Transcripts of talks?

Tuesday 2 September 2014This is close to nine years old. Be careful.

A friend recommended a technical talk today: How to Design an a Good API and Why it Matters by Joshua Bloch. Looks good! It’s also an hour long...

For a variety of reasons, it’s hard to watch an hour-long video. I’d prefer to read the same content. But it isn’t available textually. For my own talks, I produce full text as part of the preparation (for example, the Unicode sandwich talk).

I’ve even transcribed other peoples’ PyCon talks: Stop Mocking, Start Testing, and Speedily Practical Large-Scale Tests. It was a good way to ensure I actually watched them!

People put slide decks up on SlideShare, but decks vary wildly in how well they contain the content. Some simply provide a backdrop, which is entertaining during a talk, but useless afterward.

Is there some way we can pool efforts to get more talks transcribed or summarized? Surely others would like to see it done? And there must be people eager to contribute in some way who could spend the time? Does something like this already exist?

I know the full talk, with the real speaker really speaking to me, is the best way to get their message. For example, Richard Feynman’s series The Character of Physical Law just wouldn’t be the same without his accent and delivery. But if the choice is reading a lengthy summary or not getting the message at all, I’ll definitely take the summary.

Or maybe I’m an old codger stuck in text-world while all the younguns just want video?


I think you and me both are old codgers. I find the same when people tell me that so-and-so has a review of some item of media, and it's this guy droning at the camera for half an hour when I could read the same as text (with embedded pictures as needed) in a few minutes.

BTW, your www field parser doesn't like g+ URLs with a /+UserName in them.
I'm with you all the way. Lots of folks seem very enamored of video these days, but most of it could be done better and quicker via text, in my mind.

One way to approach this (if you had a little money and a little time) would be to try chunking up the video and throwing it at amazon's mechanical turk. Someone would still need to review it, but if you had more than one worker do each segment, you could start by diffing the results of the different workers.

You still need someone to do a last pass on it, but it's a way to start.
Completely agree, and I don't think I can be counted as an old codger just yet. Reading through text allows me to (a) take in the content faster, (b) scan through the content to quickly find the bits I find most interesting, (c) take in the content in environments where audio is impractical (when I don't have headphones) or (d) when bandwidth is scarce.
It's all about information density and transfer rate for me. Videos captivate well, but I'm unlikely to spend an hour just watching anything at work. Slide decks are pretty low density too. I usually read a paper related to a talk if there is one, or a summary and the readers' comments.
...agreed all over, plus text is searchable (in-page) & indexable (by Google.)
Yay for text! Moreover, I'd prefer an outline over a linear stream of text.

MTurk is one way to go, but in this case your YouTube video already has subtitles/closed captioning. YouTube can do Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) which isn't always good, but in this case the subtitles are so good (with punctuation and attribution) that a human must have created them.

You can use Google2SRT to download the subtitles and then hack on them with pysrt. You could even output html that links to the exact location in the video where the line is said.
Well if you’re an old codger, so am I—transcripts would be excellent for stuff like this, I agree.
I transcribe my talks and put up transcripts as soon as I give the talks, or beforehand, and this makes many people happy, helps my thoughts and arguments go further, and especially helps non-native English speakers, deaf people, and many others.

You might like the notes from this con organizer:
Sumana, thanks, someone had pointed me at the CART blog post, but I hadn't managed to keep the link. CART looks wonderful in a number of ways, I Wish we had more of it.
Imagine the voice of the Whos from Whoville: "We are here we are here we are here!"

In addition to Mirabai's (she's my strategic partner) wonderful showing at !!con that was written about in that blog post, go ahead and look for #srccon and #strangeloop on Twitter for feedback about our (White Coat Captioning's) performance at those recent techcons. All you have to do is call us, and we'll try our darnedest to be there for you. ;)

Here's a link to an article that was written following SRCCON in Philly this past summer, to give you a feel for the fact that you are not alone in appreciating the live captioning and the searchable text following the conference:
Reading through the presentation is sure for me. Case in point is your post. I remember started watching it on pylon site and quickly heading to your blog post to read it.

It sure is a good idea to transcribe presentations as a collaborative effort. I did not come across any service like this. But, having a wiki like mechanism with a list of videos/presentations that people suggest to be transcribed would sure be useful for someone like me.

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