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Voice Recognition Software – Is it the End for Transcription Services?

Voice Recognition Technology is Only Going to Improve

 

Voice Recognition Software- it almost sounds menacing “voice recognition software”, and it is for many of us who make our living transcribing audio and video recordings. But one must be realistic and ask, “Is the technology going away?” No. “Will research and development continue and will the technologies improve vastly?” Yes. Logically this tells us to prepare for the future.

As a transcriptionist, I find myself in the same position as the horse-drawn carriage builder found himself in when the automobile first hit the roads. I need to adapt, not fight or bury my head in the sand; so adapting I am. Persons using or considering using voice recognition software need to realize the only human component of the transcribing procedure that is being eliminated is the actual word-setting mechanics, converting a sound into a black and white form.

 

What Does Voice Recognition Software Replace?

 

I agree this can be done with acceptable results today, and most certainly in the near future it will be accomplished with near perfect results. So this mechanical procedure, in time, naturally needs to be accomplished by machine, but transcription is not merely mechanical character creation – it is more importantly the editing procedure of the document creation that will catch your eye, and cause you to rate a transcribed document as excellent or poorly crafted.

As an example, a few weeks ago I sent and unedited version of a document to one of my long-time clients by mistake. He replied in an email with “Tamara, this does not look like your work; did you subcontract it out?” He noticed the lack of editing, not a lack of black characters on a white page. In addition, he was not speaking of typos, for the document had undergone spell checking. Specifically, he noticed I had not yet made him sound like he had intended to be understood. It was this alone that tipped him off that something was amiss.

Capturing the client’s intentions and “voice” is still where a professional transcriptionist makes her mark and her money. Technology cannot achieve this service yet, although I’m sure they will try.  

“Tamara Bentzur is an amazing asset to anyone fortunate enough to work with her. As an internet talk-radio host, I have weekly transcription needs. Some of my colleagues use voice recognition transcribing software, but they never end up with a high quality product without significant time and effort spent “cleaning things up. Tamara’s services are one of the best business investment’s I’ve made. I count on her prompt, professional, high quality service every week for transcribing my radio show. I will never switch to voice recognition software. It cannot compete with Tamara’s service! Her excellent communication, writing and editing skills are invaluable addition to my business.”

Christy Cuellar-Wentz, M.A. – Co-founder and Host, www.Mommy-Muse.com

 

Traditional, Third-World Transcription 

Services will be the Hardest Hit

 

Traditional, third-world transcription services will be the hardest hit as the technology increases. I added the clarifier “traditional” to third-world transcription because I myself presently live in the “third world”, in Israel, but I am not a traditional third-world service provider. I am an American born, raised, and educated person who relocated to this country.

Traditional third-world providers utilize locals who possess English as a second language and who have achieved various levels of fluency. These service providers currently offer a more reliable product than the voice recognition technology can provide, for simple word creation, at little cost. Persons who don’t need editing beyond spell checking, who are typically the ones using such transcription services, will not experience such a notable change when going to a mechanically created document; this technological advancement will greatly affect the future of the traditional third world transcription market.

If you currently use or intend to use voice recognition software, but want the richness of a professionally edited document that keeps your “voice”, contact me for a quote.

“Tamara, I just wanted to say how blown away I am by your transcription services.  I recorded the first draft of my new book while I was on a 2 hour walk.  It was quite windy, there were countless background noises, and my thoughts jumped around.  Anyway, I thought you would simply transcribe my audio and then I would have to go over it again and rearrange it.  I almost fell off my chair when I got the 13 page transcription back and it read just like a book! I don’t know how you did it, but you are absolutely amazing.  You have a customer for life! Thank you so much.”

Scott Brandley, CEO Trust Guard,www.trust-guard.com

You can find me at:  tamara@outsourcetranscriptionservices.com, or on Skype at: ajinred. 

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Why Outsource Transcription Services.com Stands Out From the Crowd

I want use this post to explain how I do my transcriptions at www.outsourcetranscriptionservices.com and why the way I do them allows me to stand out from the crowd of other transcription services.  There is nothing wrong with simply transcribing what you hear.  Rule number one is to type what you hear and although that is satisfactory for most people, there is still that extra touch that is often left out.

I truly focus on becoming a trusted resource for all my clients by providing intelligent, edited, and researched transcripts, and by "learning" my client’s business to provide the best possible product.  How do I do this?  Because most of my clients are long-term and repeat clients, I am able to learn the industry specific terminology for their fields.  I take the time to Google unfamiliar terminology and I am able to draw on that knowledge base for not only one client, but for others whose fields may overlap.  This saves my clients from wasting both time and money on unnecessary editing.  With each successive transcript, there are fewer “new” words, thus fewer edits on the client end.

There are several ways to deliver audio and/or video to me for transcription.  You can use email, FTP, URL index page, or a file sharing service.  I have a drop box for ease of delivery, which is free for clients to upload to:  http://dropbox.yousendit.com/tamarabentzur5612437

I am comfortable transcribing both audio and video.  I use Express Scribe for the majority of my audios, which are usually transcribed into Microsoft Word format, but I use Inqscribe for my videos or for transcripts that will be exported into plain text or HTML format. 

My transcription experience includes working with multiple experts and authorities in the fields of:

    • Entertainment,  Infomercials, and scripts (including burned in time stamp requirements)
    • Marketing, Marie Forleo, Marcia Hoeck
    • SEO or Search Engine Optimization, SEO Mentor
    • IT, Peepcode, Alt.NET
    • Emerging Communications, one of the most exciting is eComm USA as well as eComm Europe, Ideas Project.com
    • Social Media, thought leaders in this area, including Social Media Club
    • Doctoral Thesis
    • University Lectures, Prof. Andreas Weigend
    • Podcasts, Mommymuse, Stories of Survival
    • Webinars, Walking on Water.org
    • Case Studies, ACT Venture Partners
    • Author Book Notes

Although I do transcribe verbatim when requested, most of my clients prefer that I clean up their dialog, removing false starts and removing ums and ahs, to make the conversation flow more smoothly, which ensures better readability.  I strive to keep the speaker’s “voice” so it sounds correct but without sounding sterile.  Each speaker has their own style, their own special phrases, all of which make each speaker’s “voice” unique and “them”.  This is oftentimes difficult for foreign transcription services, whose employees may not have English as their mother tongue.

Upon request, I will format dialog using headings/subheadings, bullet points, numbered lists, or periodic time stamps.

My clients can rest assured that they will receive accurate transcripts because accents are never a problem. I have a great ear and have worked with English accents including:

    • Canadian
    • British
    • Scottish
    • Australian
    • South African
    • Latin American
    • French
    • Japanese

If there ever is uncertainty about what is said, due to audio quality, or accent, I time stamp that area in red to make it easier for my client to find and correct.

You may find transcriptions that are cheaper, but when you want high quality, great efficiency, and the comfort of building a relationship you can trust, you’ll never find better.  My clients are never just a number to me.  They know that even if my schedule is a bit full when they contact me, because we have built a trusted relationship, I will do my upmost to work them in to get their project back to them when they need it, if not beforehand. 

Outsourcing transcription services  is a rapidly growing field.  There is always the option to farm out the work to the cheapest service provider you can find.  I am not one of those providers.  I pride myself in my professionalism, my enthusiasm, my competence, but most importantly in my ability to become a long-term part of your team.  I believe that having someone you can count on, especially in a pinch, is often worth its weight in gold.

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Question: What Constitutes Professional Identity Fraud?

I am writing a follow-up blog regarding my post on 7/19, The Data Revolution – My Battle Lines Are Drawn.  I have removed the name of the platform, but would like some feedback on how things are shaking out.

A Brief History…

I have been working as a freelancer for almost two years.  I discovered last week that my entire profile had been copied by two freelancers, the one I am showing here took it to the limit, plagiarizing my work history, my teaching certificates, my overview, and the 11 portfolio items he posted as his were all my transcripts – 8 of those were from one single client of mine that I am still working with.

I filed a help ticket, and both freelancers had their profiles “cleaned” of any of these fraudulent claims, but both are still active service providers on this site, still applying for new jobs to buyers who are unaware of their ethics, and still working.

You Be The Judge…

I would like some help from those who have taken an interest in this issue, due to the fact that there are so many of us these days who are working virtually as freelancers.  To help you “see” the picture, I have copied screen shots of both the offender’s and my public profiles.  You be the judge.  If need be, I can verify all items on mine.

  • Would this be considered fraud?
  • If yes, then what should be the company policy when someone has been caught doing this?
  • Is being asked to remove such fraudulent claims enough?

I don’t believe it is.

  • I think it hurts the integrity of the platform to allow such behavior to go on with a mere slap on the wrist and to be “reviewed”.
  • There should be a trust factor between these platforms and those who both offer their services as well as those who are paying this platform to find service providers.
  • How does the potential client know they are truly getting the professional they think they are?

I requested that both of the offenders be removed from this platform as providers.  As I’ve been told they will not inform me of their decision, the only way I will know the outcome is by checking to see if they’re still active from time to time.

I have to admit, that when I received the most recent response (as of 7/21/09) from this platform, and read the cautionary statement to not claim “fraud” I was floored.  “Please be careful about calling this fraud… this does not rise to fraudulent – it’s unethical to be certain.”

Okay, does anyone know the definition of fraud?

Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th ed., by Henry Campbell Black, West Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, 1979 states that fraud is:

All multifarious means which human ingenuity can devise, and which are resorted to by one individual to get an advantage over another by false suggestions or suppression of the truth. It includes all surprises, tricks, cunning or dissembling, and any unfair way which another is cheated.

USLegal Definitions, http://definitions.uslegal.com/f/fraud/ defines fraud as:

Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. Fraud may also be made by an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.

So the question may be; was the fraud committed against me, or the prospective clients Shiraz was lying to about his education, employment history, and sample work in order to get hired unwittingly by them?  I really don’t care, either way; I know at this point in time it would not be worth it to pursue a legal remedy, so whether or not the full definition of fraud against me is accurate or not is moot.  It was DEFINITELY committed against unsuspecting potential and/or current clients gained through this willing deception.

  • Below are two screen shots of Shiraz’s employment history and education. (The worst offender.)
  • The bottom two are screen shots of mine.
  • Please notice the Company names/title/descriptions.
  • They are verbatim, copied from mine.
  • As I stated earlier, I can verify everything in my profile as true and accurate.

Shiraz A. “Employment History” Notice the claim of “Owner/Executive” for Outsource Transcription Services

Shiraz Employment

Shiraz A. “Employment and Education” Notice Bentzur Enterprises and Global English teaching certificates, along with grades received.

Shiraz employment and education

Tamara Bentzur (“My Profile”) My Employment #1.  Shiraz’s employment and education are copied from me, word-for-word.

My employment 1

My Employment #2 – Notice Outsource Transcription Services (my current website/company) at www.outsourcetranscriptionservices.com, and Bentzur Enterprises, my former teaching business (as well as my family name).

My employment 2

Here is the latest response I received to my last message to the help center on 7/21/09.  My comments are in blue, and her responses are in black:

Dear tamara bentzur,

I apologize for the delay in responding:

I understand you calling me on the unprofessional behavior I displayed but what I said was not untrue.  It has been documented and can be verified. Why are they allowed to remain providers?

We have noted their accounts and our manager has been made aware of this and is reviewing the case. It is immaterial that what you said was true – it was still against policy to do what you did.

I am really happy with [removed] , and in almost 2 years have never really had anything to complain about but I have to say that this fraud should be dealt with in the most severe manner because it does nothing but harm the good reputation [removed] has, which hurts buyers and providers alike.

Please be very cautious about calling this fraud.  I understand that this is not good business practice nor is it acceptable.  But this does not rise to fraudulent – it’s unethical to be certain.

I know it’s not just [removed], and have been sure to mention that in my posts.  I know this is the sign of the times in our information age.  It’s too easy to copy/paste information, and I’m sure this is happening on all the other platforms as well.  But that doesn’t make it any easier since it happened to me not once, but twice in the same day.  (I’m not talking about J.[removed] who actually got this all started.  She merely copied my overview but nothing else and has since reworded it.)

It does not make it any easier and we aplogize that you were the one who was the brunt of this.

I would appreciate knowing how this matter is finally resolved with both the [removed] and [removed] providers.

We will not avise you of any actions that are taken regarding these providers in an attempt to protect their privacy as we would protect yours were the situation different.

What constitutes fraud?


How Should a company handle

plagiarism when discovered, and

easily proven?


I appreciate any comments and/or suggestions about this topic.

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In the ‘Social Data Revolution’ Our Strategies Must Change

One of my clients is both a university professor and private consultant.  He lectures about the “Social Data Revolution.”  The Industrial Revolution changed the entire fabric of our lives, and so the Social Data Revolution is bringing about massive change which is both exciting and a bit worrisome. 

Professor Andreas Weigend speaks about explicit data and implicit data.  When we willingly and knowingly share information about ourselves, we are sharing explicit data, like when we fill out our profile on Facebook.  Implicit data is information that may be gleaned by our “digital exhaust” as he puts it, the trail we leave behind, ad this may be without our knowledge.

Before the recent explosion of virtual freelancers, “offline” job seekers carefully prepared their professional resumes or CVs to present them to prospective employers.  Those resumes were protected within HR departments. We wanted it that way because they contained our educational and professional achievements and we fiercely guarded them.

Today those same job seekers, in the virtual job hunting environment proudly and explicitly broadcast their professional wares across various platforms, such as oDesk, Elance, and others, with the intent of landing that great job.  In this current economic climate it is even more evident.  In the past few months, the number of new freelancers who have signed up with oDesk has greatly increased.  This is the platform I have been working with for almost two years.  I am sure the other ones have seen the same growth.

I was one of those naive and blissfully ignorant souls guilty of indiscriminately displaying everything about my professional achievements on the Internet.  I would have remained ignorant to the folly of that had I not experienced first hand the violation of having my resume and portfolio plagiarized by others; note that – it was plural.  It’s just too darn easy to copy/paste at will.

I not only had my education, employment history, and portfolio items completely plagiarized, I suffered the additional insult of having my company name commandeered as being owned by the guilty party, although my photo appears on my website, as well as everywhere else my profile shows up on the Internet.  I honestly didn’t know what to think.

We are now venturing out into new territory and as such we must be ready for the changes.  I would like to make a suggestion for my fellow virtual compatriots; be proactive in guarding your professional credentials.  At the minimum, from time to time, Google phrases, URLs, or descriptions from your resume, verbatim, with quotations around it. As I did, you will see if there is anyone else purporting to be “you”.  At present,  I have thankfully only found the two incidents, and have taken steps against them, but you can be assured I am putting one more thing on my Google Calendar to do on a regular basis.

We all work too hard to build up our professional credibility and reputation to have anyone snatch that away from us, and to receive jobs based on our credentials.  There are so many honest, hardworking freelancers in this new marketplace.  It is time for us to wake up, and be on guard.  I have drawn my battle line.  I will not stand down.

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Technically Correct is not Always Correct

I know this is Tamara’s Blog, but my husband wanted to share a few insights he just discovered about transcribing and editing.

My name is Hezy – I’m Tamara’s husband. I asked her if I could write a short article for her blog because I just learned something from her about the art, if you will, of transcribing.

My area of expertise is in identity theft and its direct correlation/contribution to terrorism. My wife wanted me to read a lecture she had just finished transcribing for one of the professors she does work for. The topic in this lecture was dealing with the misconception of identity anonymity and she thought I might find it interesting.

He is a long time customer and very pleased with her service. Keep in mind; I’m reading for content, not editing purposes. About one third of the way into the document, I assumed she must have done this one late at night or during one of her crunch periods. Overall it was fine, but some of the sentence structure was a bit off and sometimes it sounded choppy, not her usual near perfect work.

Obviously I was concerned, so I asked if she had already uploaded the document, to which she replied she had. She asked, “Why?” So I told her some of the sentences had not been edited correctly. She smiled and I thought it was one of those “and now you’re an English major too?” smiles, but it wasn’t.

Turns out this particular professor was not born in the United States. He is very well respected in his field, but English is his second language so his sentence structures will be a bit different from one whose first language is English.

She went on to explain that although she does make grammatical corrections, she is protecting his “voice,” meaning she wants the transcript to be correct but it needs to sound like him, for his students who are reading it. It would be odd for them to read their professor’s lecture, which they had already attended, in perfect native English. They are accustomed to in-class lectures being in his voice, and the ideas structured in his own unique way.

I never stopped to consider that there are different levels of editing. This kind of delicate attention cannot be performed by just any transcriptionist; absolutely never by a foreign bargain transcription service. This ability comes only from a real professional, and by learning the client – over time.

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Finding the Right Transcriptionist – It is More than Price and Turnaround

When searching for the right transcriptionist, you should consider more than the cost, and turnaround time.  True, we all have money and time constraints, but sometimes in an effort to be thrifty, we cost ourselves more of both.

With the Internet, it’s possible to hire inexpensive transcription services to convert the spoken word, (notes – seminars – interviews – podcasts – lectures, etc.), to the written page.  In general, the inexpensive services are foreign transcription services (FTS).  While it is a cheap alternative, it can necessitate you making many edits before publication.  More importantly, it may reduce your personal voice, which can negatively impact your profits.

Your personal voice is how your customers have come to know you and it is what they feel comfortable with. You must carefully consider who will take your spoken words and reduce them to black and white.  An FTS may have talented individuals in their stable of transcriptionists, who have a good grasp of the English language, but can they detect nuancesWhat about colloquialismsDo they “get it”?

Nuances, colloquialisms, and regional humor are absolutely beyond the scope of foreign transcription servicesIf you want the words that you speak to appear on paper the way you intended, those inexpensive foreign services are not for you.  You will need to employ a domestic service or individual, but – there is another option.

Find an individual that provides transcription services who now lives in a different country, but (and this is a big but), who spent the majority of his or her life/career in your country.  You may find these individuals will have lesser monetary demands in their adopted countries; thereby their rates generally are more affordable.  And because they were a part of your culture prior to their relocation, they still have the knowledge and understanding of business and your business environment.

The transcriptionist you select is an extension of you.  Choose carefully; what may seem like a good deal may cost you in the long run.

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What Success Takes – Golden Nuggets I Was Honored to Transcribe

I had the great pleasure of transcribing all the interviews and chapter notes for Garrett Pierson’s wonderful new book, What Success Takes. I was pleasantly surprised while I listened to the interviews because it was unlike so many other self-help, “rah-rah” books. It was a wonderful journey of discovery for me, an inspiration to hear these real, down to Earth conversations from people who have all found success in their own lives, defined by what they hold most dear. Whether they are multimillionaires or not, they realize that what matters most are relationships with employees, friends, family, and God. Their greatest joy is found helping others find their own successes.

I realize I have held false beliefs about success and what it takes to succeed, and that my definition of success is not dependent on what others believe it is. I no longer fear failure; it’s an opportunity for growth, and I know now that when I fall it’s okay – I’ll just fall “forward”. I am ready to focus on what my strengths are to enable me to provide value in some way to those around me, and to discover ways to overcome the challenges that may come my way. These are just a few of the nuggets I took with me and I know you will find many more of them between the pages of What Success Takes.

Do yourself a favor; take a moment to visit the website. You can download the CD for the book free! www.whatsuccesstakes.com/

 

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Outsource Solution is a Win-Win Solution

The world has changed so much in the last few years.  Job opportunities are no longer limited by location.  With the explosion of the outsource market, service providers are able to work with clients from all over the world. 

There are many benefits for both sides.

CLIENTS:

  • Clients pay only for work performed.
  • Insurance costs are eliminated.
  • "Water cooler" breaks are a thing of the past.
  • The pool of quality service providers has expanded because the barrier of location has been erased.
  • Work can be assigned on short term or long term basis with ease.

 SERVICE PROVIDERS:

  • Work can be performed from anywhere.
  • Commuting to work is a thing of the past – great for the environment.
  • Income once allotted for gas, wardrobe, and meals can be used for more enjoyable things.
  • Have the ability to set work hours and time off.

Today, with most people having access to high speed Internet, outsourcing is a wonderful solution.  It’s a win-win situation! 

 

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More Than Just Transcriptions – I strive to build relationships and trust


I work hard at delivering "intelligent" transcription services that are customer driven.  I have billed over 2,000 hours on transcriptions in less than a year and a half, and have nothing but delighted clients.  Most of them are long-term assignments.  In this difficult economy, how have I made myself stand out from the crowd? 

It is important for me to build a relationship of trust with all of my clients, which is so necessary in this modern, remote work environment.  I strive to make each client know they are not just a number to me, but that I am an extension of their business.

If you wish to work with someone who will "learn" your business and make your transcription needs run smoothly and seamlessly, I am just what you are looking for.  Check out my user profile at oDesk for tests I’ve taken, portfolio items, as well as client feedback:  http://www.odesk.com/d/view_profile.php 

or visit my personal website at:  www.outsourcetranscriptionservices.com

 

 

 

 

 

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