This is an experiment. I am dictating this blog post with voice activation software. I’ve considered making this investment for some time, but my digital ulcers finally made the decision for me. My fingers have been so sore over the past few weeks that the only way to help them heal is to stop typing. And I can’t stop. Writing is my livelihood and lifeblood.
The investment, even in the first few hours of learning how to use my new Dragon software, is already paying off. This is an absolutely amazing experience. The transcription is quite accurate. I still have a lot to learn and, to some extent, I’m mixing keyboard corrections with dictation. But 99 percent of what I am writing here is voice dictation. And that’s just with the limited skills I’ve learned in a basic tutorial.
One of the great things about dictating is that the words appear on the screen faster than I can possibly type. At the same time, the process of translating thoughts to a sequence of spoken words is going to take some getting used to. Even as I hear the words in my head whenever I type, there is a seamless mental process that translates those words through my fingers to the keyboard and onto the screen. In speaking those words to the dictation software, I almost have to ignore the sound of my voice in order to focus solely on the words before me.
That said, I am thrilled to have such a powerful alternative to typing with my fingers. I’ve been playing with emails and text messages, and this blog post is my first attempt at writing something longer.
There are, of course, some amusing aspects to the software. Think AutoCorrect on steroids. There is a whole lexicon of commands to learn. For example, if you mess up what you just dictated, you say “scratch that.” However, I actually had to type that phrase just now, because the software thought I was giving a command. So, there’s a lot to learn.
I also wonder how dictation will affect the way I hear the music of words, phrases and sentences. Will my writing become more conversational just because I’m speaking to my computer? Or will it sound more stilted to my ear because I have to speak in phrases . . . at least for now.
My new Dragon has little wings. It needs nourishment and attention. We must exercise together before it will really be able to fly. I can’t wait to see the view.
Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.
Image Credit: Dragon Medallion, Ming dynasty (1368-1644), silk and metallic thread tapestry, Metropolitan Museum of Art.