Found Footage: Sarah Palin's 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant Video, Swimsuit Competition

Somehow, a 22-year-old University of Alaska student named Richard Millay got his hands on a videotape that’s eluded the media since John McCain asked Sarah Palin to be his running-mate — original footage of her 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant.

Of course, this is all very frivolous and has nothing to do with the current campaign. But like Barack Obama’s high school basketball footage, it’s a little glimpse into the early life of a highly-visible national figure.

In the first part added to YouTube, he posted the portion from the swimsuit competition, prefaced by a brief introduction mentioning the demand for the “88 minutes of Alaska Gold.”

Update: The original video was removed, but I managed to save a copy of the relevant footage without Richard’s original intro. YouTube’s removing every copy of this video, so I’m streaming the clip below from my own server. It won’t be removed.

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Twitter Elections — based on candidate-related tweets, looks like only 2% of the Twitterverse is conservative

Kickstarter

I wanted to take a moment to announce that I’ve joined the board of directors for Kickstarter, a brand-new startup based out of Brooklyn and Chicago.

April 28, 2009: Kickstarter is live! I wrote more about the launch here.

Kickstarter aims to let creative people of all kinds — journalists, artists, musicians, game developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers — raise money for their projects by connecting directly with fans, who receive exclusive access and rewards in exchange for their patronage. More than just a fundraising app, Kickstarter’s a publishing platform where project creators can communicate with the people that are supporting them. (Think Jill Sobule, A Swarm of Angels, or Sean Tevis.)

I was introduced to founders Charles Adler, Perry Chen, and Yancey Strickler by Caterina Fake back in June, and sealed the deal after a trip to NYC to meet the team. They’re a great group of guys with a strong vision, and I feel lucky to be involved.

Ultimately, everybody should be able to support themselves doing what they love using the web, and I think Kickstarter will be a great way to get there. Expect to hear more on Waxy.org as launch day gets closer.

To help them on their way, they’re currently looking for a CTO to join the founding team. I’ve been helping guide some of the technology decisions and building the development team, but we’re looking for a passionate and talented person to devote themselves to the project full-time.

If you’re interested, drop me an email or IM and I’ll introduce you!

Cheap, Easy Audio Transcription with Mechanical Turk

After recording last week’s interview, I was left with a 36-minute MP3 and a profound feeling of dread. You see, I hate transcribing audio. I used to transcribe interviews in high school, and it’s always tedious, taking upwards of eight times the length of the clip itself.

Bracing for a good four or five hours of rewinding and writing and rewinding, I remembered that this is The Future! So, instead, I tossed the job over to the global anonymous workforce at Amazon Mechanical Turk instead.

The result: my 36-minute recording was transcribed while I slept, in less than three hours, for a grand total of $15.40.

This is a fraction of the cost/time of any other transcription service online, including the Turk-driven Casting Words, though you potentially sacrifice some quality. In my experience, though, there were virtually no errors.

Here’s how to do it yourself, with no programming knowledge required. The instructions below are verbose, but using my template, it shouldn’t take you more than five minutes of setup per job.

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