A version of this post originally appeared in the June 25, 2020 issue with the email subject line "Let me be cautious about Googling that for you" and an essay about when and how Google can best be used as a resource for social activism and anti-racism.

I’m a real shit notetaker, especially when I’m with clients. I want to have a conversation with a client, rather than focusing on taking notes. Last year after I went out on my own, I started recording most of my meetings so I could take notes later. But there’s no control-F in a voice recording, and I had trouble finding the most crucial parts of the conversation.

Through some email or other, I found a great AI transcription assistant. Then it was bought by Cisco and is only currently available for WebEx, so I couldn’t use it anymore. I tried a few replacements, but they couldn’t keep up with conversations among three or more people. One of the AI transcribers insisted that I kept talking about “nuts” in every conversation, and that was embarrassing.

And then I found my new BFF transcription bestie, Otter.

Otter at a glance

Visual review of Otter.ai features: cutting-edge; improves efficiency; uses machine learning; integrates with common tools; for the monthly price of a salad lunch out per user. This tool is finely tuned, intuitive and single-user oriented with some team features.

First off, Otter wins points because it’s a virtual assistant not named after a woman! Instead, I imagine that I have an otter assistant like Philippe writing down every word I say.

Features of Otter include:

  • Transcribes hour-long conversations in about 10 minutes or fewer
  • Is ridiculously intuitive.
  • Links with your calendar to automatically transcribe all your calls (I use Zoom)
  • Understands multiple people and many accents
  • Enables group collaboration and commenting on transcripts
  • Is surprisingly inexpensive for what it does (VC subsidy?)
  • Doesn’t ever think I am talking about nuts.

I dig Otter.

If you do sign up for Otter, here is a referral link. I would recommend this tool regardless of the referral link, but it’s there, so I’ll use it.