I have automated voice mail transcription set up so that I get an email when someone leaves me a message. The idea is to save me from having to dial in and listen to a message, especially if I am otherwise occupied at the time. Being able to scan a message quickly to determine its relative priority can be a real advantage.
However, it is important to realize that automated transcription, though nice, isn’t exactly where it needs to be in order to be ready for mass consumption.
Let’s take this example of a message that my brother left me recently. (And no, he does not call me “Babe.”)
Hey Babe, It’s me. It’s Wednesday evening about 8:30 just calling to say hi, see how you’re doing and if you get caught in the do you see or not and click on the wrong phone, I can’t remember which purchase sandwiches but George but, hey man, yes I know they’re getting hammered. She she didn’t. She and I just didn’t know if you were up down there you were home so you know I don’t call me back on mon. Valley right now. Sizzler’s different. The stomach turn around the doctor the back of the east coast tomorrow. But yeah, just checking in, hope you’re doing well. Hope you’re surviving so I down there in D. C and I’ll talk to you soon. Okay bye bye.
Needless to say, this transcription is somewhat less than useful. I did know it was my brother, but that was based on the caller ID, not the transcript.
I’ll continue to use automated transcription because it often does slightly better than this, but at best I can get the gist of a message. I would never want to rely on the transcript for precise details since it will frequently transcribe things in a more coherent way than above, but no less wrong.
Yet another reminder that technology can provide great tools, but they don’t entirely replace human interaction.