Jott Helps Keep Track Of To-Dos When You Can't Write 'Em Down - InformationWeek

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IoT
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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
3/23/2007
02:29 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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Jott Helps Keep Track Of To-Dos When You Can't Write 'Em Down

I'm so excited I could just plotz -- I actually had a chance to field-test Jott yesterday and it worked like a champ. Jott is a new service that lets you phone in and record a 15-second sound bite, which it transcribes using speech recognition and then e-mails the text back to you. I used it to record an idea while I was driving to the dentist, and by gosh I had that e-mail waiting for me when I got back to my desk.

I'm so excited I could just plotz -- I actually had a chance to field-test Jott yesterday and it worked like a champ. Jott is a new service that lets you phone in and record a 15-second sound bite, which it transcribes using speech recognition and then e-mails the text back to you. I used it to record an idea while I was driving to the dentist, and by gosh I had that e-mail waiting for me when I got back to my desk.

This is exactly what Jott is designed for. Most of us are familiar with the phenomenon that our minds do some of their best work when the body is engaged in physical, repetitive tasks. For some people, it's splitting wood or gardening or exercise or housework. For me, it's driving on major roads and highways.

(I'd be a healthier person with a tidier home if it were one of those other things.)

So there I was yesterday, on my way to the dentist, when I was struck by an idea for some great programming at the InformationWeek Fall Conference. I thought I should e-mail the idea to Brian Gillooly, who's editor-in-chief of the conference, and Stephanie Stahl, who I talked to about conference programming a short time ago. Then I was struck by a familiar anxiety: I was in the car, no way to write anything down, and I worried I'd forget the idea by the time I was back at my desk.

And then I remembered Jott. I called the number, spoke my message, and forgot about it. Having a stranger's hands in your mouth focuses your attention away from workplace concerns.

Of course, the transcription was imperfect. Speech recognition is an imperfect art today even under the best of circumstances, and extemporaneous speaking into a cell phone while cruising along the California freeway is not the best of circumstances. The transcription, when I got back, started out startlingly well: "Contact Stephanie, send her an E-mail and also send an E-mail to Bryan and CC Tom." That's darn good. It even got the comma right. I don't know why it decided that Brian spells his name the nonstandard way, but still, this is some pretty darn good speech recognition.

It decided the Fall Conference was actually the "Paul Conference." I think that's a great idea. We should change the name and only invite people named "Paul."

My idea for simulcasting content on the Internet came out as "sign your cast." I don't think kids do that anymore -- I think they now immobilize broken bones with a substance you can't write on.

But seriously: I expect voice recognition to function badly. Jott did well in that it was significantly less bad than I expected it to be.

Seriously: Jott did a great job doing what I needed it to do, reminding me of something I needed to take care of when I was back at my desk.

I reviewed Jott Monday, but was just sitting at my desk back then. This was my first opportunity to test Jott in the real world.

Now to go send that e-mail.

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