2: Cortex Interview February 22, 2007 10:16 PM   Subscribe

A day early, it's the second installment of the MetaFilter Podcast.

posted by mathowie to MeFi Podcast at 10:16 PM (101 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite



I just listened to it. Great as always. Thanks for starting a podcast, by the way. Since you started one, I've delved into the crazy world of podcasts on the iTunes store and found a tonne of free stuff to download and listen to on my iPod. Whole episodes of Thank God You're Here and The Chaser's War on Everything? I am so there.

Can I make a suggestion, though? Just a suggestion. I like the occassional music cut-aways that you do throughout the podcast but since its only a few seconds of each song it seems like a bit of a lost opportunity not to make this something akin to a fully fledged radio broadcast, especially with a resource like Metafilter Music free to hand.

How about for each weeks episode, you split it into three or four different segments, such as comments on MeFi, AskMe and Projects, with musical interludes highlighting what you and Jess thought to be the three or four best songs on MeFi music that week. I'm sure the musicians wouldn't mind, plus it'd drive more people to go and look at MeFi music. And it'd give the whole podcast a more 'broadcast' like feel.

At any rate, thanks once again for the podcasts. It's all so very, very cool.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:33 PM on February 22, 2007


Got a link to the mp3?
posted by jouke at 10:35 PM on February 22, 2007


"You say meh-fi?" "Oh Jesus Christ."

Good stuff, people!
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:35 PM on February 22, 2007


Here's the actual mp3 link (about 17Mb I think)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:36 PM on February 22, 2007


Effigy, the format so far is to pick one interesting song from the previous week, and use that for the intro and mention who did it. Then we go into the most popular stuff on the site, then the interview. The rest of the music on the track was all cortex. Since he had so many to choose from, I picked a variety of cuts to share (also, I couldn't help but have a random asshat song cutaway).

Overall, the show was ok for me. We need to do more intros to stuff to get people up to speed (we concentrated too much on keeping our mefi talk time short) because re-listening to it even I was sometimes thinking "what thread are they talking about again?"

I should have done a proper long intro explaining who cortex is before we launched into the interview, but I think the interview went well. I cut about half of it away, mostly jokey stuff that went off on tangents. We laughed at the beginning when I over-pronounced his name because preceding the recording we had this long conversation about how to mispronounce his name. Oh! I forgot to ask him if his bands had any shows coming up soon (to do the talk show thing fully, you have to have guests plug their crap).

We're still getting our sea legs on this whole thing and none of it is planned (if that wasn't already obvious). I bet in a few more shows we start to hit a groove and make less mistakes.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:42 PM on February 22, 2007


Matt, please don't see what I said as a criticism in any way. I love the podcasts and I think that the format is fine as is. I also agree with you when you say that in a few more shows the whole endeavor will find a groove.

I'm just suggesting that having a couple of featured songs played at full length throughout the podcast (as opposed to just a few seconds of each) would be pretty neat, making it sound more like a radio show we might tune into on the old media. It doesn't need to happen, but if it did I think that'd be great too.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:52 PM on February 22, 2007


Perfect timing for a Friday afternoon at the office. I actually just hit the index page hoping it'd be here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:22 PM on February 22, 2007


That seemed a lot shorter than it actually was.
posted by kindall at 11:26 PM on February 22, 2007


Why keep it short? Longer is better (harder, faster)!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:31 PM on February 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


So.... when are we going to see those pictures of cortex's sisters?

Seriously, though, thanks guys - I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast.

The MeFi podcast is actually the first one that I've ever taken the time to listen to.

Go team MeFi!
posted by Afroblanco at 12:16 AM on February 23, 2007


I've got a fever!!! And the only prescription is more Cortex!

I for one want to hear some of the stuff that got cut away. 20 minutes (with songs) seems too short for a podcast.
posted by Derek at 12:20 AM on February 23, 2007


The sound quality is much better this time. Two thumbs up!
posted by sveskemus at 12:21 AM on February 23, 2007


Jessamyn, you were just in Lawrence? Damn.
posted by hototogisu at 12:31 AM on February 23, 2007


I kinda agree with Effigy; I mean it's not like you're buying minutes of airtime here. We all have a fast forward button in our MP3 players; I reckon, say, a 60-40 music-talking mix would probably be pretty nice; it's not like you don't have a whole buttload of music to choose from on music.metafilter.com.
posted by Jimbob at 12:32 AM on February 23, 2007


I don't think it should be longer. 20-30 minutes is a long time for someone like me with a short attention span.
posted by sveskemus at 12:40 AM on February 23, 2007


That was a perfect length and entertaining. I actually don't mind the short musical interludes--if I want more I know where to find them.
posted by maxwelton at 1:33 AM on February 23, 2007


Rumor has it than any order of more than 50 CDs also includes autographed photos of your choice of cortex's sisters. (Not sold in any stores.)
posted by maxwelton at 1:34 AM on February 23, 2007


Great stuff.

One little quibble: there's a lot of really brutal high pitched clicking sounds throughout, and they're a bit painful if you have headphones on.
posted by jack_mo at 2:42 AM on February 23, 2007


Listening,
the white worms braiding my hair
fell asleep
and left me half cast,
thanks to your dreadful podcast
and cast.

May silence be the new golden,
at last.
posted by Opus Dark at 3:32 AM on February 23, 2007


I just listened to it. Great as always.

This is only the second one :)
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:12 AM on February 23, 2007


It was brief, yeah, but I'm sure it will shape itself after a few episodes. I like it that all the songs come from Metafilter Music, cool new use for that, no?
posted by micayetoca at 6:00 AM on February 23, 2007


Nicely done. I really enjoyed it. I'm on *.metafilter.com several times a day and yet this podcast helped me find things I hadn't noticed or taken the time to read (e.g., sleep question, Ferguson monologue).
posted by veggieboy at 6:01 AM on February 23, 2007


Thanks for the time and effort to put this little gem (gems, because this is the second of many?) together. One more reason why I'm glad to be a member here and check the sites out too often during normal business hours.
posted by fijiwriter at 6:19 AM on February 23, 2007


I wouldn't mind a podcast twice as long. Great stuff, thank you.
posted by ColdChef at 6:36 AM on February 23, 2007


The mics matched very well this time.
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:00 AM on February 23, 2007


I wish it was longer, which probably means that it's exactly the right length.
posted by longtime_lurker at 7:11 AM on February 23, 2007


I enjoyed it quite a bit. Seems you're hitting a stride already. Please don't completely limit where you're going due to time.

If you feel you're talking about something interesting; keep talking.
posted by defenestration at 7:17 AM on February 23, 2007


The mics matched very well this time.

Cool. I got a new mic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 AM on February 23, 2007


Liked the second one better than the first and I loved the first...

Matt asked Cortex "why a physical CD" regarding the Metafilter Compilation and I think cortex did a great job in his reply (including his comments on the lovely art), but one thing I think was left out was that as great as MeFi Music is, not everyone who is a brilliant musician/composer is necessarily great at the technical side of things. I know I am a bit to close to this as the husband of the person who mastered the CD, but I really do think that much of the value added was in the engineering. Turtlegirl received 20+ songs in various formats with various skill levels in the recording of the song, and she worked hard to make sure the CD sounded great.

Jessamyn also mentioned a reason why it is nice to still have CDs in this day and age when she said she had been carrying around a copy in her bag all week. It is easier to share a CD with someone than to point them to MeFi Music.

Lastly, one of the greatest things about the Metafilter Compilation CD project was that the community raised money for a worthy cause. For that reason alone it is worth supporting.

Sorry for the rant. Great podcast, and cortex was a great choice for the interview.
posted by terrapin at 7:27 AM on February 23, 2007


Turtlegirl received 20+ songs in various formats with various skill levels in the recording of the song, and she worked hard to make sure the CD sounded great.


I had no idea. It sounds awesome. Put me down for the "Physical Copy is best" vote, too. There's just something really cool about holding it in your hands. It's like getting your yearbook at the end of the semester.

When I take pictures at weddings for friends, I used to give them a copy of all of the pictures on CD, and they appreciated that. But when I print out fifty or so of the best ones and give it to them with the CD they go nuts. It's the instant "nowness" of it, for lack of a better phrase. I look forward to the day where I have a stack of MeFiCDs from various years on my shelf.
posted by ColdChef at 7:47 AM on February 23, 2007


Thanks for interviewing a MeFite who knows how to pronounce things properly!
posted by trip and a half at 8:01 AM on February 23, 2007


Much better this week, guys. Thanks.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:10 AM on February 23, 2007


Buy the CD!

About 8 minutes in so far. This really does feel a lot more solid than the first episode—rhythm of conversation and back-and-forth is there. Some of this may be the crazy editing Matt did, but some is certainly that ineffable gelling thing.

But the CD!

My cute sisters in crazy 80's party regalia.

Buy the CD! Really, as terrapin says, turtlegirl did a great job and added a lot of consistency to the production; I don't really know how to convey that in detail, but it's a tremendous part of the whole thing. And it's great looking. And it sounds great. So you should get one.
posted by cortex at 8:11 AM on February 23, 2007


Also, a suggestion for Matt and Jess: attach backlinks to threads referenced by podcasts. Even something as simple as a "mefi-podcast" tag, maybe, though it'd be nice to have some more specialized link-to-relevent-podcast-episode functionality.

And on that note, I think making a weekly podcast metatalk would be good—as it becomes a settled routine, that could be an ideal place for chatter about the contents, so that we might see less of the "so the podcast mentioned such and such" type thing going on over here. Not that that thread is a bad thing, per se, but it might help contain some of that.
posted by cortex at 8:20 AM on February 23, 2007


I have to say, I was sort of hoping for a live rendition of At the Open Mic with mathowie and jessamyn clapping along.
posted by danb at 8:22 AM on February 23, 2007


So that's what Cortex looks like!
posted by drezdn at 8:31 AM on February 23, 2007


Hey, he's the spittin' image of the John Kusak puppeteer in Being John Malcovich.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:35 AM on February 23, 2007


Hey, I got mentioned!

I didn't play trombone in the Harvey Girls, I played trumpet, mandolin, and bass! Duh!
posted by interrobang at 8:45 AM on February 23, 2007


Needs more cortex! I really enjoyed listening to him. He needs his own hour. I'd tell you what I really think about him, but my wife might get jealous.
posted by dios at 9:12 AM on February 23, 2007


That was so great! Thanks for answering the Fiona question!
posted by onlyconnect at 9:17 AM on February 23, 2007


Hey, my post got mentioned. Neat.

I didn't listen to the first one, but I gotta say jess sounds exactly like I thought she would.
posted by Cyrano at 9:19 AM on February 23, 2007




Just finished it—wonderful stuff, but of course it had the advantage of having cortex. (MetaFilter Podcasts: now with the Cortex Advantage!!) This is a great idea, and I hope it continues getting better and better. Kudos all around.

*does the Churlish Pule while singing the Asshat Song*
posted by languagehat at 9:30 AM on February 23, 2007


Well done, folks!

Thoughts:
- Y'all sound so .. normal. Too bad we know different.
- Jessamyn's new mic really helped the sound problem.
- Length was good, half an hour would be better especially if adding a guest each week continues.
- I like the snippets of music. If I want to hear more I can go to music.metafilter.com.
- Please keep linking to the mp3 as that's the best way for me, and possibly others, to listen to the podcast.

Note to self: buy the CD!
posted by deborah at 12:08 PM on February 23, 2007


Length was good, half an hour would be better especially if adding a guest each week continues.

! Each next week will have all of this week's guests plus one new one! Half an hour will get short for that though.

Matt, did you almost say "blogosphere"? Please tell me something else happened there.
posted by aubilenon at 4:00 PM on February 23, 2007


needs more gossip, and controversy : >

And please interview Melissa May for one of them.

also, how about a "welcome to" segment each week, listing all the new members? too hokey?
posted by amberglow at 4:03 PM on February 23, 2007


"It rolls off the tongue...yeah, like a turd."
posted by Brainy at 4:09 PM on February 23, 2007


Heh. Yeah, he's a gracious motherfucker, that Haughey.
posted by cortex at 4:25 PM on February 23, 2007


Wow, I really love you guys. When I first started listening to the cast I thought my mp3s were mixed up. You guys rule! Now I must listen to the rest.
posted by snsranch at 5:21 PM on February 23, 2007


Matt & Jess, I don't know if you folks have any experience in radio or tv, but it sure sounds like you do. That was fun and interesting from start to finish. (Well edited?) In any case, I can't wait for the next one! You guys nailed that interview with cortex too.
posted by snsranch at 6:14 PM on February 23, 2007


Mathowie definitely did the edits and did them well. I used to do a high school radio show, but I can't say whether that has anything to do with sounding decent or not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:59 PM on February 23, 2007


I have zero experience in radio or TV. If we sound good and punchy, it's because I edited the audio to death, removing all the easy uhmmms and ahhhs, and keeping the conversation from running too far off on tangents. I probably chopped out 30 minutes of rambling audio from both me and jessamyn and from our time with cortex.

I'm happy to hear people are wanting more -- it sure beats people saying "that could have been a lot shorter".
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:45 PM on February 23, 2007


I'll start listening regularly when you start ending each podcast with a dramatic reading of the biggest derail of the week, complete with assumed voices for the commenters and sound effects.
posted by davejay at 11:11 PM on February 23, 2007


Oh, as far as your lack of experience -- I have experience in both, and you're doing just fine. This will become natural for you very soon, and each week will require less editing and still deliver more punch. Hang in there.
posted by davejay at 11:13 PM on February 23, 2007


Oof. I had to quit at around 3 minutes 30.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:34 AM on February 24, 2007


when you start ending each podcast with a dramatic reading of the biggest derail of the week

I think maybe we should have snsranch's kids do it, I always liked that effect on The Daily Show.

Mayor Curley, have anything constructive to add?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:29 AM on February 24, 2007


I'd mentioned that transcription might be a fun shits-and-giggles thing to do, and the shits and the giggles lasted through a good nine minutes, up to the break before the interview. So here goes:

[music - snsranch's "Saturday Night at the Ranch"]

M: That was snsranch with Saturday Night at the Ranch.

J: Well--and snsranch's stuff is great just because it's so--all over the map. Like some of it's just like really great music and some of it's just these noise collages and some of it's just like crazy "I played this on my porch"...nonsense, and, ah--just in general, you know he's got his kid and sometimes he does things with his kids and you know its--his stuff is generally my favorite just for interestingness whether or not it's my favorite for listenability is--is something totally different.

M: Fo' sheezy. Fo' sheezy. Uhh, welcome to the Metafilter podcast the second episode, a ten minute long interview with cortex coming up at the end. The first one went pretty well, it was a little long, we'll try to make this one a bit tighter. Oh, and all the questions people asked about, I think we'll pick out a couple there. What was the Ask Metafilter post you wanted to talk about, Jessamyn?

J: Oh, well my favorite Ask Metafilter post on this week was the, ah, how to fall asleep on command, or rather the question was why can't I fall asleep on command. Like, I don't wanna take drugs, I don't wanna, you know--whatever. I need to figure out how to fall asleep. Five minutes, fall asleep. And--cuz we've had a lot of sleep, like--I've got insomnia, I can't sleep, I need help questions, which I always read because they're totally useful. But this one was really like--"how do I tell my body it's bedtime and fall asleep immediately" and a whole bunch of people favorited it and there was a lot of, a lot of really good advice including join the army, become a doctor, ahh--you know all the things that sort of sleep-deprive you. But you know people had different--different tricks that you don't normally find when you sort of read the I Can't Sleep books.

M: And there was no magic bullet, right?

J: No, there's no--[laughs] sorry, there's no magic bullet.

M: Aww.

J: But I like the idea of like a favorite napping couch or accidental yoga naps or, ah--

M: I wait until I'm tired and then I can clonk out. I actually probably fall asleep in less than five minutes now, but I usually go to sleep well after when I should.

J: See, if I wait till I'm tired until I'm up for like two days.

M: That's true. Also, never do anything in your bedroom at all except sleep, so I never read ever, um, in bed. So the moment I go in my bedroom is pretty much, walk over to the bed and fall asleep.

J: Lights out time.

M: Yeah, otherwise you get used to "oh I'm gonna read four chapters and then go to sleep" and then it just never comes.

J: So no laptopping in bed, is that what you're saying?

M: No, it's very rare, and I've been napping like crazy and I'm surprised it doesn't really affect my sleep too bad.

J: That's right, you said you've become a big, ah, advocate of the Churchill style nap.

M: Right. Not just the regular--not just uh, falling asleep on the couch, but you got to fully--

J: Proper nap.

M: A proper nap, like get ready to go to bed for a while. But it's only like 20 to 40 minutes--

J: See, this answers the question that I was probably gonna ask from the--from the list of questions, which, "how--how's Fiona changed your, uh, changed your metafiltering" and probably the day time nap is part of that

M: Oh yeah, she's a...awful sleeper, she goes to sleep like clockwork at like between 7 and 8 pm. But she gets up, like, we just cant--we've tried everything, we can't get her to sleep past...barely 6 am. She likes to get up at like 5 am, and when she's up she's up.

J: And she's how old?

M: Uh, uh, a year and a half, a year and three quarters, something like--she'll be two in a few months. Um--

J: Uh huh.

M: Yeah, she's sure to learn to sleep through the night, that--that's the part that probably sucks, is that sleep deprivation is--never end in two years. Um, over on the Metafilter side it looks like, uh, everyone loved the chocolate chip cookie one, and mostly I think it was just to argue over which chocolate chip cookie is the best.

J: People like to talk about food.

M: Yeah--

J: Especially people like to talk asbout food when they're at work...you know--

M: [laughs]

J: I'm not saying--I'm not saying anything about anybody particular but I think we do have people who sometimes like to, uh...Metafilter while they're at work and uh--

M: And food, that's like, that's uh, a dub?--forbidden things you shouldn't do at work, eat chocolate chip cookies all day--

J: Right, blogging about food.

M: That's awesome. If you can mix sex in there and you can get the trifecta somehow, of things you shouldn't do--

J: Not that we're recommending that.

M: No, that would be awful. The other big post is the...Craig Ferguson on the Late Late Show doing the Britney Spears thing, um--

J: Well except that it wasn't a Britney Spears thing.

M: Right, yeah, it was mostly a speech on, um...being sober and...and being gener--well, I mean, it did come around back to Britney Spears and--that it was uh, you know, that he was generally concerned about her and said, you know, we should stop gawking at it, and he actually felt bad as a comedian, which is pretty good to hear, making the cheap--

J: Right, because it's an easy cheap shot.

M: Yeah.

J: That thread also gave us the tagline, "screeching eyeball stupid shitbox clownshoes", which I appreciated.

M: Wow. [laughs] That's a looong tagline. Oh, the one thing wha--I couldn't stop thinking about when I watched it was how annoyed I was at the audience. Um--

J: Cuz they were laughing in all these weird place--

M: Yeah, because it's nervous laughter and it's weird and you're in a studio where you're supposed to be laughing and it's cold and they do all this stuff to make you laugh easier...yeah, I mean--I--I just kept thinking back when you're, when you're watching someone doing something out of the ordinary and people aren't reacting correctly, you know there's probably five people in the audience that are giggling but I couldn't stop thinking, dude, you guys are ruining this moment, like, shut the hell up, it's not--he's not trying to be funny. He would insert little jokes as a relief to people, like every couple minutes like a good comedian does, but, yeah--

J: Because that's what he'll do, he'll just take off and talk about stuff.

M: I've never actually seen his show, I feel so bad, um--

J: Are you serious? It's great.

M: I know! I'm reading all these comments and everyone's like, "he's the best guy", like--uh, Conan, for me, was, like, you know whatever, five, ten years ago I watched Conan all the time and I didn't watch anything else because I thought it was crap. I've never seen his show ever. And now I feel bad.

J: Well, you can probably catch up on YouTube fairly quickly.

M: Yeah, yeah, it's--I mean it's gotta be helping him because I think these are all official CBS uploads, and who the hell is up at 12:30 in the morning watching CBS. So. I mean, YouTube is making the long tail work for--for Craig Ferguson. I was amazed at how long it went. I'd seen every blog on the web talking about like how great this was. And I just thought it'd be over--

J: And you were like, who's got this kind of attention span.

M: I was like, wh--I was surprised the blogs, the--people on blogs have this kind of attention span, but it's obviously something different and special. I guess that's about it on this post. I mean, did you see anything else, um--off of metafilter...

J: Those were my favorites. If we're trying to keep it--if we're trying to keep it down...

M: What was the question I was gonna ask you...oh, I thought the loaded question about, um, how do you rectify the situation in your head between being a librarian that has to archive all human knowledge, and that you delete a bunch of crap out of Ask Metafilter.

J: Well, the question was interesting, actually, because it had to do with, you know, do we have a complete copy of Metafilter anywhere, ah--but, but I sort of feel like unless you're following everybody around with a tape recorder and you're one of those guys who wears the little video camera on your chest, like, you know there's certain stuff that's kind of designed to be, uh--ephemeral, at least, at least in 2007 and at least right now and so the same way, ah--I would clean it up if you took a dump in my living room and not saying, "but it's human knowledge", you know, what--you know, I--

M: Well, don't you think your...librarian duties are to preserve the archives and isn't removing the, the garbage from the edges like, isn't that help make better archives, better information--

J: Well, it depends, I mean archives are alla bout supporting the institution whatever the institution is in the real world. Like, yeah, exactly what you said, I mean, no archive has everything. Almost no archives except maybe the Internet Archive and even then--

M: [laughs] Yeah--

J: --realistically...ah, even, even attempt to get everything and so I guess it's sort of a balance between, ah, you know preserving every adorable utterance and, ah, having a useful, you know, a useful sort of...informational knowledge base or whatever I mean you know we're not going to try to turn this into some wicked crazy knowledge base but--

M: Well--

J: The idea that Ask Metafilter actually works better if people aren't making the, uh, you know, lol butts jokes all the time, no offense cortex...

[music: cortex's At the Open Mice]
posted by cortex at 9:33 AM on February 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


That took a lot more than nine minutes to do, needless to say. Transcription has always interested me from a layman's perspective—both as a rendering challenge (how do you convey some of the nuances and vocal cues of conversation in text) and as a way to unearth the weird literal speech-act accessories that we generally elide when listening to spontaneous speech (the filled pauses, the restarts, the incidental disfluencies and grammatical hiccups).

So that was kind of fun, but it was probably better than an hour or so of it. I played the show back at halfspeed in WMP and typed as fast as I could, stopping and retyping overflow bits from memory and going back and relistening. Not a great system, but it works. (I also tried some free transcription software briefly, but it was being showstoppingly buggy, so, hell.)

And I have to say, listening to someone have normal conversation at 50% is surreal. Matt and Jess sound baked out of their minds, basically. And some words just transform when you rejigger the temporal subtleties like that—I went back and listened to the first nine minutes again while reading my transcript and found a couple of very odd clashes between what they actually said and what I heard in molasses mode.

Anyway, good times. I don't know if there's really enough value in having a transcript that it justifies ~3 hours of work every week, but if you type fast and want an interesting challenge, by all means, volunteer. I think I've satiated my own appetite.
posted by cortex at 9:40 AM on February 24, 2007


Transcripts for podcasts are a waste. I see it happen every time a site launches a podcast, invariably some users demand transcripts and it always seems so pointless. The entire reason for having audio is to have a different experience from text. When you transform it to text, you lose all the context and the back and forth from the delivery and it looks like a really lame conversation.

If I ever do MeFi TV, are people going to want transcripts of that as well? Doesn't that seem ridiculous?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:55 PM on February 24, 2007


If you ever do MeFi TV, I'll want royalties.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2007


but transcripts are really important for those who can't listen for whatever reason--whether from disability or equipment or work or access issues. Considering that almost the entire rest of the place is accessible to all (except for music, i guess)--being text on screen and simple--it would be good to keep that tradition going.
posted by amberglow at 1:20 PM on February 24, 2007


transcripts and subtitles (if you ever do tv) are important.
posted by amberglow at 1:20 PM on February 24, 2007


aren't there any online automatic speech-to-text things? or something like that--there must be an automatic way to do it.
posted by amberglow at 1:22 PM on February 24, 2007


As far as I know, commercial speech-to-text programs works fairly well under ideal circumstances. Which means money, mixed results, and pressure on Matt to worry about speech-rec quality audio. I'd love to see a mefite show off some good proof-of-concept for this being workable (surely someone works with that sort of software), but I've got my doubts.

Accessibility is good, but the effort required has to match up with the practical usefulness. One person transcribing it by hand is a several-hours-long effort, unless we've got a really fantastic transcriptionist hanging around.

If we wanted a weekly transcript, we could break the podcast up into minute-long chunks and make it a distributed effort. Work up a small style guide, hand off a minute to each volunteer, and have someone cobble it all together in the end.
posted by cortex at 2:42 PM on February 24, 2007


i'd volunteer to help---many of us would.
posted by amberglow at 3:14 PM on February 24, 2007


but transcripts are really important for those who can't listen for whatever reason--whether from disability or equipment or work or access issues.

Outside of accessibility issues, I have to say that it's ok for someone to not be able to get one part of the site. Think about it, the music site gets about 1/100th of the traffic the rest of the sites get, probably because it takes some effort to listen to strange songs from unknown people. And the Jobs section has a limited appeal built-in (if you're looking for a job, subscribe to the feed, otherwise feel free to ignore it). Not everything on *.metafilter.com has to be for everyone.

I'm ok with people not getting to listen to a podcast. It's just a side thing for shits and giggles anyway and there's nothing important in it that you won't see somewhere else (we won't announce new things on it and not do it in metatalk). Transcription is difficult, time-consuming and the end product isn't that great. Like I said, it's a lot of work for very little payoff and something I'm not going to waste effort on.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:27 PM on February 24, 2007


Also, Merlin covered this well here. Fast forward to 4min 15sec to enjoy the goodness.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:52 PM on February 24, 2007


that thing won't load for me.

given that you and jess run this site and have authority, and that the rest of the site is very accessible on the whole, and that this is a fun new thing intended to inform and enlighten-- and is wholly about the site itself (it's actually an extension of MeTa)--i'm sorry you don't think it's worth the effort to translate it so that it's fully accessible.

We don't have many hard rules or guidelines here, and everyone of necessity has to read your and jess' tealeaves in many cases because of that. That goes double for all the new people--who have to absorb the rules and mores by osmosis or something, or trial and error, or by being smacked down for violating them. It's not like you and jess are 2 random mefites goofing around.
posted by amberglow at 5:00 PM on February 24, 2007


Thanks for your efforts, cortex. I requested a transcript off-handedly and I fully recognize the self-defeatingness of it especially for those who already put a lot of work into it (mathowie, jessamyn, cortex). It was a simple burning need to know everything on my part.
If any member feels compelled to try their hand at transcribing some or all podcasts in the future, that would be fantastic. But I won't be demanding anything. [In case you haven't noticed, and I hope I haven't made an annoyance of myself, I'm just a bit frustrated at my lack of advanced technology. I will now release any burning needs, and continue to enjoy the parts of the site that I can.]
posted by bobobox at 5:13 PM on February 24, 2007


amberglow, we will never cover rules and guidelines, it's aimed at simply entertainment, but in a new format.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:13 PM on February 24, 2007


bobobox, what kind of computer do you have that lacks any sound? Do you have a USB port on it? They make great USB headphones/microphone things that handle all sound on either mac or pc with no software needed. You should look for one of those and the neighborhood office supply store.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:01 PM on February 24, 2007


Frankenstein PC, the problem is soundcard. Imagine a dinosaur. A Frankenstein dinosaur. With a non-working soundcard. But with a little bit of money, effort, knowledge, time, and a new computer the whole world will be at my disposal. Er, I mean the interactive internet will be.
posted by bobobox at 9:27 PM on February 24, 2007


... it's ok for someone to not be able to get one part of the site... Not everything on *.metafilter.com has to be for everyone.

Heartily seconded. Talk about a tempest in a teapot, and being punished for doing something nice. "Hey, guys, here's a fun podcast!" "OK, now we demand the tedious, time-consuming transcription of everything!" Sheesh.
posted by languagehat at 6:18 AM on February 25, 2007


...being punished for doing something nice. "Hey, guys, here's a fun podcast!" "OK, now we demand the tedious, time-consuming transcription of everything!" Sheesh. ...

Sheesh yourself. Try a little decency and care, please. It's not really "something nice" if there are members who will miss out on all of them for various reasons--or have to buy new/more equipment to simply take part. Transcription is only tedious and time-consuming if you don't care about those people at all--or about the fact that this is a community.

and "punished" ? Since when is stating that transcripts are important and stating why is "punished"? WTF??
posted by amberglow at 9:12 AM on February 25, 2007


I think the point is, Amber, that just because a few people can't appreciate the podcast, for whatever reason, doesn't mean that we have to bend over backwards to accommodate them and throw road blocks in the way of this newborn project.

A pastry chef is not uncaring just because diabetics cannot enjoy his confections.

If you want to make the transcripts, by all means, knock yourself out.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:35 AM on February 25, 2007


that wasn't Languagehat's point--his point was to insult and attack and deride.

and we have volunteered.

Matt said: Transcripts for podcasts are a waste.
I pointed out it wasn't, and that it was important. It's not "bending over backwards" nor a "road block". It's been part of accepted web accessibility guidelines since the 90s to provide one, and this site itself is in all other ways accessible.
posted by amberglow at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2007


I don't recall this cry for accessibility back when Mefi Music started.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:49 AM on February 25, 2007


Transcription is only tedious and time-consuming if you don't care about those people at all--or about the fact that this is a community.

Cool off a little, amberglow. Transcription is tedious and time-consuming by its very nature. I (half-)did it for fun this one time; I wouldn't make a personal habit of it because it's absolutely a chore.

If we have organized volunteers to do it every week, I can't imagine Matt refusing to acknowledge the transcripts, so there's nothing stopping you from taking that project on. But I think Matt's in the rights saying that this isn't that big of a deal. languagehat may have piqued you with his presentation, but I do kind of agree with him, and I wonder if this conversation would even be going on if I hadn't tossed that half-transcript off for the hell of it on a Saturday morning.
posted by cortex at 10:24 AM on February 25, 2007


that wasn't Languagehat's point--his point was to insult and attack and deride.

WTF? No, my point was to agree with Matt. Don't be silly. And as Dave said:

If you want to make the transcripts, by all means, knock yourself out.

You care so much about these vital bits of MeFiana being accessible to every single person in the world? Fine, do the work yourself, and after every podcast you can provide a link to your transcript. That would be nice, and a few people might actually read them, though frankly I think the audience will be pretty limited, since they listen much better than they read. But to call for volunteers to do work that you think "should" be done is disingenuous.

(Also, languagehat is not capitalized.)
posted by languagehat at 11:09 AM on February 25, 2007


I wonder if this conversation would even be going on if I hadn't tossed that half-transcript off for the hell of it on a Saturday morning.

I'm quite sure it wouldn't.
posted by languagehat at 11:10 AM on February 25, 2007


You care so much about these vital bits of MeFiana being accessible to every single person in the world? Fine, do the work yourself, and after every podcast you can provide a link to your transcript. That would be nice, and a few people might actually read them, though frankly I think the audience will be pretty limited, since they listen much better than they read. But to call for volunteers to do work that you think "should" be done is disingenuous.

I didn't call for volunteers. I volunteered and said others would too. Of course the audience for transcripts is limited--it's people who can't otherwise access presented material on the site.

I'm quite sure it wouldn't.
It's not because cortex did or didn't do something that I'm speaking about this. It's very simple.--Accessibility matters, and matt doesn't need your defending--he made his points, and since this is MeTa---where we actually speak and discuss the site--i'm responding and making mine. None of that deserves your snideness and dismissal--at all. No one is "punishing" anyone nor making a "tempest in a teapot". If you think it's not important, just say so without "Sheesh" and all that other shit. Go find a thread where they're discussing something you want to talk about instead of knocking me for speaking.
posted by amberglow at 11:35 AM on February 25, 2007


If you think it's not important, just say so

It's clearly not important.
posted by dios at 3:27 PM on February 25, 2007


None of that deserves your snideness and dismissal--at all.

Agreed. Of course amberglow, it'd be nice if you also didn't insinuate that I don't care about disabled users and I don't care about community a bit upthread (cortex quoted it).

Being half-blind from birth and around the blind all my life (and knowing I have a fairly good chance of being blind in the future, given a bit of glaucoma diagnosed a few years back), I definitely care about disabled people. It's just that the time and effort required for something like a silly waste of audio like the podcast seems like misplaced effort (making sure the rest of the site operates in blind screen readers is magnitudes more important).

"Perfect is the enemy of the good" is a phrase that fits well here. Just because there's no transcription tools or plan in place and one guy with a broken sound card can't hear it doesn't make the podcast not worth doing. Every time I launch or propose a feature, I often hear about really bizarre edgecases and sometimes people are so bound to those that they deem the project misguided or worth halting until we achieve a level of "perfect" for anything we can come up with.

Anyway, as the creator of the podcast, I was looking to do something fun and reward good behavior on the site and help people get to know members better by interviewing them and help outsiders find the best bits on metafilter. It's far from perfect because like everything, it's barely planned and thrown together for the fun of it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:52 PM on February 25, 2007


But no one is asking for perfect at all--in any way.

Given that you are concerned about visual issues and accessibility visually on the site, why no concerns about audio issues on the site? They're just as important--even if you don't have a personal stake in it. I don't see why one is "a waste" but others aren't. It doesn't lessen the fun of podcasts or anything either--it actually expands the audience.
posted by amberglow at 6:52 PM on February 25, 2007


It's at the start of any new feature that accessibility issues need to be brought up (if not before). They have been.
posted by amberglow at 6:53 PM on February 25, 2007


I don't see why one is "a waste" but others aren't.

I was talking about the entire mefi universe of sites being available to screen readers, vs. a shits-and-giggles 20 minute audio file that would take hours to hand-transcribe. Do you see how a little effort goes a long way on the screen reader thing, but a ton of effort for a tiny gain is what each and every audio recording requires?

But fine, go ahead and transcribe the whole interview with cortex, since that seems to be missing and we're missing an audience by not having it around.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:29 PM on February 25, 2007


Won't someone think of the children??
posted by Dave Faris at 7:50 PM on February 25, 2007


languagehat is not capitalized

It is if enough people start capitalizing it!
posted by kindall at 7:56 PM on February 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kindall, don't start!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:46 PM on February 25, 2007


Heh. I love this place. Linguistics jokes put me in a jolly mood.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:37 PM on February 25, 2007


I've got a fever, and the prescription is more LESS CAPITALIZING.
posted by cortex at 9:40 PM on February 25, 2007


Can't the mefi wiki be used for volunteer transcription? Nobody says it's imperative that Matt & Jess do it. Anyway as long as there's a note of what's mentioned it's good enough.
posted by Firas at 1:23 PM on February 26, 2007


The Revolution will not be capitalized.
posted by sparkletone at 1:39 PM on February 26, 2007


The revolution will be capitalized on when it will be televised.
posted by jouke at 2:52 PM on February 26, 2007


MeFiTV is matt's next project.
posted by snsranch at 4:04 PM on February 26, 2007


The revolution will be capitalized closed-captionized on when it will be televised. : >
posted by amberglow at 4:34 PM on February 26, 2007


Four hours of editing? That ain't so much. :)
posted by ed at 9:21 PM on February 26, 2007


I figured you were so enthusiastic, you'd have the second half of that podcast transcribed by now, Amber. The next one is due in a few days. You don't want to get backlogged.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:12 PM on February 27, 2007


AWESOME!!! Will listen again!!
posted by Hildegarde at 6:56 AM on February 28, 2007


I thought the podcast was great. It's nice to hear the voices of people whose comments I've read for the past few years.
posted by ob at 11:37 AM on February 28, 2007


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