Saturday, October 11, 2008

Evaluation of Live-Blogging from Audio

Yesterday's experiment with the world's first live-blogging event from audio had mixed results.

Traffic from the (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend resulted in a delay by about 45 min. after the event officially started, but it was still before the main speakers arrived.

One of the best features of the minimal lag time for the text conversion, usually within a minute or two from calling in the message.  There were absolutely no problems getting through to the line to the service.  Updates were made hours in advance to any mainstream media coverage, except possibly live television.

But the biggest limitation appeared to be recognizing the text, despite efforts to speak slowly and clearly.  Specifically, names were frequently missed and dropped out entirely, especially if they were in any way unique.  Stéphane Dion and Jean Chrétien were obviously missed, even with (and perhaps because of) a French enunciation.

Situational factors also intervened.  There was no telephone reception in the main room, meaning real-time play-by-play developments could not be posted as planned.  A considerable amount of background noise, including the live pounding of dhol drummers easily drowned out attempts to call in.

The utility of this call in technique was still demonstrated.  Telephone reception is usually better than laptop reception would be anyways.  Most events will not have such an overwhelming amount of background noise, and a Bluetooth attachment would easily allow hands-free updates in frequent intervals.  Word recognition could use some work, but as long as names are avoided it generally seems to do a decent job.  Even this issue can be addressed by the option to attach a link to a voice file for each post, which would clarify any ambiguities present.

Aside from media personnel using this for covering events, voice to blog applications can be used in meetings, conferences, or even emergent situations ("I need help ASAP for ____ Please contact me if available).  It's definitely easier than trying to text or open a laptop for quick status updates, especially since the service provides a (free) local telephone number to call in to.

Text of posts that did manage to get posted are below, with some edits indicating where text was lost.
Friday, October 10, 2008 9:18 PM
"Summary of today's talk, a vote for Harper is a vote for more lies."
Friday, October 10, 2008 9:07 PM
"Finally got out. There was no reception in the building at all so I couldn't update anything."
Friday, October 10, 2008 7:46 PM
"[With} Andrew Cam[p]bell of the Ontario [Young Liberals] Liberal's and talking about how incredibly packed this place is and what a wonderful turnout we have."
Friday, October 10, 2008 7:43 PM
" [Jean Chrétien,] former Prime Minister of Canada has arrived to large applause by the crowd."
Friday, October 10, 2008 7:37 PM
"Adam Isa [, a] leader [in] of the Somali community is also here[.]  [The atmosphere is] staff are exciting.  [Jean Chrétien is] are expected to arrive shortly."
Friday, October 10, 2008 7:27 PM
"Just supposed to daily  area. [ran into ______, a Toronto] Lawyer, the [ in the Toronto area. The] mood is upbeat."
Friday, October 10, 2008 7:20 PM
"Just land [ran] into Ryan [Singh} of the Ontario young Liberals right here in the street. So, [it] seams like every body is having hard time finding parking."
Friday, October 10, 2008 7:16 PM
"There's so many people here to see Deon [Dion] here today there's not even [any] parking left, so we [will] have to find parking some where else."
Friday, October 10, 2008 7:13 PM
"Arriving at saint un, Edmond Campion Secondary School about 45 mins after the event has started. Let['s] see what I can catch."
Friday, October 10, 2008 6:36 PM
"Between the four accidents on the highway and long weekend traffic, it looks like I might be a little bit late."
Friday, October 10, 2008 5:46 PM
"Shelley [Filling] up gas in kitchner. Vault [Vote] Liberal for cheaper gas."
Friday, October 10, 2008 4:38 PM
"[...] The first micro blog in history to cover a political event live."
Friday, October 10, 2008 4:37 PM
"I'm leaving London Ontario for Brampton while doing the first audible micro blog in history."
(continue reading &aquo;)