Brad Leach brings us another cool and maybe even mind bending post...read on.
Many of you may remember from the television or movies where some individual dictates while a typewriter magically clicks away taking down every word. Some of you may think of the movie, The Bishop’s Wife with David Niven and Cary Grant. Grant plays an angel who, at one point in the film, dictates a Christmas sermon. I think of the original Star Trek episode where Gary Seven dictates his mission report to a typewriter. The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie had something similar.
My younger mind eagerly imagined such machinery as typewriters and cars bound to my verbal command. I might helpfully tell the construction crane to go to work or have the nearest vending machine wheel itself over and empty itself of my favorite candy bar (Snickers and Baby Ruth being high on the list.)
Now that I have retired to write, imagine my delight upon learning there is a voice recognition system available to be used in place of typing. While speech recognition has been available for the past 20 years, it’s only recently become refined enough to see a 95% success rate, right from the box. Now the only limit to my “typing speed” is the speed at which my mind can compose sentences. My computing word processor composes even as I speak. I have the power of Gary Seven and an angel combined (well, maybe not quite an angel.)
It must be conceded that the 3% to 5% of errors do need correction, but almost all of the correction can be done verbally. Also, the punctuation must be dictated as part of the sentence. I don’t remember Cary Grant or Gary Seven having to do that! Still, for those who don’t type well or can’t type at all, this rivals the automobile replacing the horse, and a slightly dyslexic horse at that.
My system, Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking, learns as it goes. It can be taught new or unique words and also studies your style of writing so it can better anticipate your word usage. I think of this like those movies where the English butler has learned that the master likes his eggs lightly basted and his bacon crispy. It took a computer, but now there’s something that hangs on my every word.
Now, the bad news. This won’t make you a better writer. It simply makes you faster. So if all you write is junk, you will only be able to write junk very quickly. With this tool helping you, you can quadruple your rejection letters.
The other factor not often considered is that you must compose the sentence in your mind as you wish it to look upon the page. Prattling on a mile a minute without thought leaves you hundreds of minutes needed to edit miles of prattle. I suppose even angels had to think about what they were going to say.
PostScript – this entire blog article was dictated, corrected, and formatted verbally. My fat little fingers never caressed the keyboard. I even had a suave, female, British computer voice named Serena read my article to me for editing purposes. Ah, the life of an angel.