Writers: Six Reasons to Embrace Voice Recognition Technology

  1. It’s fast. The other day I tried dictating a passage in my WIP into my MacBook. I completed a thousand words in much less time than I would have managed with my laborious typing.
  2. It’s fun. Watching the words spill out miraculously onto your screen gives you a weird sense of power.
  3. It’s funny. Sometimes it throws up weird howlers. For instance: ‘up the ladder’ became ‘Auchterarder’. (Home of the Gleneagles Hotel, I believe. Not a setting I’m likely to use.)
  4. Accuracy will improve as the tool gets used to my voice. This is true. Siri and I have had some misunderstandings in the past but we are friends now. He still won’t sing me a song though.
  5. It’s hands-free. In theory, I could do other things while dictating, such as ironing or making an omelette. And again, in theory, I should be able to dictate anywhere, except that you really need a silent environment.
  6. Typing can seriously damage your health. I never learned to type properly because when I was growing up only women typed. So I can only type with one hand, and mostly just two fingers. Repetitive strain injury may not be far away…

Six Reasons Why Not…

  1. Those howlers. Sometimes they are so funny you can’t resist posting them on Facebook and then chatting about them. Gained time is soon lost.
  2. You really do need a silent ambience. Results improved radically when I turned off the electric fan on my desk. Silence is at a premium in our busy world.
  3. How’s your diction? I pride myself on crisp enunciation. However, just before I conducted the experiment, I lost a crown over a front tooth, leaving me looking like Fagin. My fricatives (especially /f/ and /v/) were rather ambiguous and one result was borderline obscene.
  4. Punctuation and paragraphing.You have to go back and manually sort this out in your script. I know that there are VR resources that can do this for you but I’m not ready to fork out the dosh till I experiment a little more.
  5. While dictation reduces the fear that a new idea will evaporate before I can get it down, I’m not sure that speed equates with quality of expression. I will persevere.
  6. Those howlers again. Very distracting. They tempt you to play games. Here, for instance, is the Lord’s prayer as dictated into my iPad and pasted here (with tooth restored):

Our father which art in heaven hello do bees by the name the Liking them come they will be done on earth as it is in heaven give us this day our daily bread and forgives our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us leaders not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom apparently glory for ever and ever Ahmed

I’d love to hear your views and experiences. Why not start a discussion at the bottom of this blog entry?