12 June 2018

USchess in Podcasts

Starting with the April 2018 issue, Chess Life (CL) has a new online feature, 'Cover Stories with Chess Life'. These are presented as a podcast interview with the author conducted by CL's editor, Daniel Lucas. The first talk was with FM Mike Klein of Chess.com, who wrote the cover story introduced on the left ('cover art by Paul Dickinson'). That first podcast, plus the two podcasts conducted for the May and June issues of CL (with Al Lawrence and GM Ian Rogers), can be found on Podcast Archives (uschess.org).

I'm a big fan of podcasts, and after The Week in Podcasts (February 2018), this is the second time this year I've posted about them. Maybe that's because I also like listening to the radio while I'm doing something else. Having said that, I have a couple of problems with the podcast format in general.

The first problem is that podcasts require concentration. I can't concentrate on a second task -- like writing a blog post -- while I'm listening to a podcast.

Driving also requires some concentration, as does manual work like painting a room, but listening to music at the same time takes no concentration. Listening to a talk show or a news program occasionally requires concentration ('Wait a moment. What did they just say?'), but my focus can shift rapidly because the primary task, like driving, doesn't always require full concentration.

I simply can't do two simultaneous tasks that both require near-full concentration. Why not just concentrate on the podcast? Because listening to a podcast is not like watching a video. Unlike a video, a podcast doesn't engage my eyes, which means that my visual attention is constantly wandering to something else. A transcript might be useful.

The second problem is that podcasts are difficult to quote, although here I have the same problem with videos. If I want to introduce a short quote from an audio source into a blog post, I have to listen to the audio and write what I think I'm hearing, then iterate the process several times to make sure the quote is accurate.

What if I could automatically create a transcript of the quote and then verify it's correctness? I know the technology exists, but what tools are available? For more about the technology, see Wikipedia's Natural-language processing:-

Natural-language processing (NLP) is an area of computer science and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages, in particular how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data.

For more about available speech-to-text tools, I'll have to make a survey and actually try some of them.

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