TECHNOLOGY: Otter application

Otter is a program that transcribes conversations live. While you speak, the program records what is being said as an audio file, and types out what is being said at the same time. More features of this program include recording which speaker is saying each quote, how long they speak, and the ability to export both the audio file and the transcript. I was first introduced to Buffer in ENG261 News Reporting with Dr. Spinner, and it has given me a great amount of assistance doing any sort of interview work. While Buffer is offered both on a web browser accessible on a laptop or desktop computer, I will be using the Buffer app on my iPhone and/or iPad. I will be doing this because, in my experience with the program, the app is more user-friendly. Each interview I conduct will have the opportunity to either be in person, on the phone or over zoom. Because of this, I will need to use different devices depending on the medium of the interview. If I am conducting the conversation in person, I will most likely record it on my phone, and take any extra notes on my iPad. If the interview is on Zoom, I will also use my phone to record off of my iPad or laptop. Where it gets tricky is if it is an over-the-phone interview, I will have to hold my phone up to my iPad that has the Buffer app open, so that it can receive a clear and correct translation of the conversation.

The mastery included in using Otter is not too much, considering I have used it for interviews in the past, which is what I will be doing in my project. One thing I want to improve on and master is labeling the speakers. This can assist me in organizing my conversations within the app, and making it clear who is speaking, and when. In addition to this, I want to practice getting clearer audio, because the clearer the audio is, the better the transcription is. In the past, my transcriptions have been pretty bumpy, misunderstanding what each person says, or the context of the word and spelling it in another way. The information provided to me by the athlete I am interviewing is the basis of my project, and getting raw and off-the-tongue quotes is something you can only get the first time you ask the question.  Lastly, I want to master the way I use Otter. I want to organize each file in a way that I can access them efficiently. Staying organized will be something that helps me throughout the semester, so preparing the app with folders for each person being interviewed will assist in the success of my project.

Otter is social in the way it affords effective conversation recording, which allows me to be more present in the conversation. If I were to take notes on paper during the interview, or even record the conversation as just the audio and take notes in addition, it would distract me from such an important discussion. I can be more interactive with the person being interviewed, also allowing me to present better quality follow-up questions to topics and experiences they bring up themselves. By transcribing the interview live in addition to the recording, I can ensure that I am getting the most out of the conversation while it is happening in real-time and that after the interview, I have retained every aspect of it, which is important to the work that needs to be completed post-interview.

Otter reflects my cultural values by affording me to be present in every moment and every connection. The discussions I will be initiating are very personal and can be difficult for people to share with someone they just met. By allowing me to not be looking at my phone or having my head down in a notebook, I can make each interview feel like a genuine conversation between two student-athletes. This can also prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by the project, ensuring I get the best version of their story possible to best represent them.

While Otter affords the actions needed for my project by being my second hand and brain in the interview and reporting process, there are ways it can constrain my actions as well. While it eliminates my need to take notes in the interview, notes can be a way to jot down initial thoughts as well. But, in keeping with the theme of staying present, I will allow Otter to run in the background and engage in the conversation as much as I can. Another way that it constrains me is non-accurate recording/transcribing. One of the biggest flaws, as I described earlier with Otter is the difficulty of misunderstanding words, phrases, and sentences. In the end, it is just technology, not another human being. This is where I can see a live transcriber having more success because their human brain can acknowledge when someone is saying “hear” Vs. “here”, for example. While this is definitely a downfall of this technology, when used in conjunction with the recording tool, the transcription can be deciphered if need be.