New Google Gadget

July 16, 2008

I tried out Google’s new elections video search tool. It’s pretty darn neat. How many times have you sworn that you heard a certain candidate make a statement but you have no idea which speech it was in? You need to prove that it exists but you don’t know how. Now, you can do it.

Google has converted speeches by political candidates using speech recognition software. For anyone whose ever used one of these programs you know that they can be a little iffy at times. Something is however better than nothing at all. When you type in a word or phrase it searches the politician’s channels on Youtube for the rhetoric. The videos are then presented to you. There are now two options. You can either watch the entire video or go to the yellow indicator dots for the phrase you want and skip right to it.

I really like the idea. Who wants to sit through a 30 minute speech to find one phrase? Politicians can be very long winded, as we all know. Why not skip to the good stuff? The speeches are supposed to be in the database just a few hours after they’re posted.

A potential problem, of course, would be that some politicians don’t post their speeches on a Youtube channel. If they aren’t posted, they aren’t converted, and you can’t find them. Another problem is, as I mentioned before, that speech recognition software is not always accurate when it comes to recognizing words. So yeah, there might be some glitches but it’s still exciting.

I think that news organizations could also find this very useful in the future to pinpoint sound bites. Most use nonlinear editing systems, computers, and could use a tool like this one internally to wade through tons of footage. If a reporter didn’t have the timecode for an interview answer they could type in the words that they heard earlier in the day and poof the information would be pulled up. This, of course, would have to be converted for personal use since they would be using their own footage.

As for online news organizations, they’re ready to go. It’s technology, let’s use it.