ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Casting the Woz —

As part of the Wozipedia project, I decided I was going to take advantage of various collected Wozniak speeches and presentations he’s made over the years, letting him speak in his own words instead of paraphrasing him. When left alone (and given lots of time), Wozniak spins amazing yarns.

For reasons I still don’t quite fathom, Kevin Mitnick was tapped to host the “Coast to Coast” radio program, which is normally a lint trap for conspiracy theories and blown-out pseudo-scientific ponderings, in April of 2006. For reasons I entirely fathom, he pulled in a favor and had his buddy Steve Wozniak come on the show and basically be the subject of the show for a couple hours. I had gotten recordings of this, because hey, Wozniak and Mitnick, what could be better.

The first hour has Wozniak sitting in but not really contributing a whole ton as they cover spyware and a few other computer subjects. But the second hour, Mitnick basically puts The Woz in gear and lets him go. And go he does. Woz covers a ton, from childhood, to his high school and college educations, to life at Apple and his thoughts on everything. I decided this .mp3 should really be transcribed.

I’d heard, on and off, about a service called Casting Words that basically utilizes the Mechanical Turk system to get you a field of transcribers who would go through your mp3 and turn it into a couple of useful formats. I decided that one hour of this radio show would be good. They charge by the minute, so the cost after I calculated the length was $29 dollars.

Is that a good price? Well, it is if you’re submitting something useful to your needs that is loaded with information. A lot of presentations and a lot of shows/podcasts are not, in fact, loaded with information. They tend to be speculative, meandering one-sided conversations, poking gingerly at complicated ideas and encouraging you to “look into it”. The desire to pay to have these shows (essentially spoken link blogs) transcribed is pretty low. But to have Wozniak at full clip for 45 minutes turned into an essay? Speaking about something he’s an expert on (his biography)? And considering how much time I’d have spent doing this and then not being able to work on other stuff? Yeah, it was worth it. I’d put it around having a particularly nice meal; not something you’d want to do all the time, but good for special occasions.

Of course, you get it for free. On the casting words site, here it is in HTML. Here it is in Rich Text Format. Here it is in text format.

Here’s a choice paragraph from it:

Transistor radios came out. I think my most valuable thing was my transistor radio. It influenced me. I thought, “Wow they made a device that I can sleep with and hear wonderful music all night long every night. Turn it on and carry it with me.” It was so personal. It was mine. It wasn’t somebody else’s. It wasn’t my parents’ radio. I could listen to it. And I could listen to whatever channel I wanted. I loved that thing. My Dad, he was working for Lockheed. Only the military could sponsor this early transistor companies in Silicon Valley and the early chip making companies because, for the military to launch missiles, they needed low weight and low weight was to put in six transistors on one chip instead of six separate transistors. So that was early it got me an early education to the whole chip thing and I said, “Are they are going to do that so they can make smaller better transistor radios for us people?” and he said, “No, they are going to make it for the military.” I was disappointed. I really really wanted them to be making the best technologies for people at home.

Enjoy the Woz, my treat.

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One Comment

  1. Paul says:

    Shit, Jason, you keep walking the talk.