One of the hardest parts of being a reporter is the knowledge that there are times when you will fail at your job.
You will misunderstand, mishear and misrepresent. It’s a part of being human, but it’s not all that pleasant – especially when the community trusts you as their all-knowing source of information.
I have certainly had my share of failings, but I can take comfort in one thing: The robots are not taking my job anytime soon.
Last week, my friend and coworker Mara Abbott introduced me to Otter.ai. Otter is a transcription app that provides over 600 minutes of free transcription services each month.
Otter was thrust upon me last week as I was faced with the prospect of relistening to a two-hour-long school calendar committee meeting after my computer crashed and lost my notes. Having a robot listen to the meeting for me and do all the work sounded quite appealing.
The only problem is that Otter is really not that accurate. What emerged from my audio file was a garbled, nonsensical transcript, which reads a bit like Shakespeare – if Shakespeare were really drunk, had no respect for the English language and made hip-hop culture references.
These nonsensical lines of near poetry will not tell you much of anything about last week’s meeting. (For that, see my story on page A1). But if you’re looking for a mild chuckle, you’re in the right place.
”And the guy said this, or I said that. Whatever. I just wanted to know what was the public perception of Calvin Johnson.”
“So these are the English versions of the dielectric in writing, so you can read it out loud.”
“But also 108 hours in Wildwood requires 1,100 hours.”
“We also have high turnover – higher than Goldman Sachs.”
“I’ve read a lot of articles about China trying to find China.”
“You knocked out 32 dragons.”
“You’re still going to have a huge impact in Las Vegas.”
“In middle school, Sharon doesn’t care.”
“Middle school on Saturdays. So awesome.”
“If you change the calendar, let us also change the Segway within each school.”
“So what would it look like to be serious?”
“I’m just really confused about which killers don’t have kids.”
“Casey did not have first grade. He was excited and silver.”
“That’s what I’m talking about: travel time. Our kids are getting out at one o’clock to go play a game at seven o’clock in Rome.”
“It is hard for us. Especially those of us who are Jared Leto.”
“Welcome to the babies of summer.”
“And they would just do reading and math. … That’s where they were getting high.”
“What is the cost of money?”
“Let’s just say I’m not a sock.”
“If I looked at the calendar strictly, there was 15-and-a-half-day bribes.”
“Look at the desert website and check out the other work.”
“ And that’s what I’m looking at: trying to make sure our kids are the most prepared and ready when they get into the White House.”
“They don’t practice putting their bodies on the product today. But my name is Jeff Casper.”
“My world is no people. Understand that.”
So remember folks: We might not be perfect, but at least we’re not robots.