Thursday, September 8, 2011

The dream of dictation, slightly dashed

For a long time, I've had the fantasy that I can find software that will allow me to take long walks and write at the same time—a program that will convert my speech into typed words. It would be like having my own secretary/transcriber (or wife... see Tolstoy, et al.).

So I downloaded a popular dictation app for my iPod and tried it the other morning. The results are mixed (see below). While some phrases and even sentences are nearly intact (i.e., "as I write this I'm jogging with Wii fit"—true!), there is a lot of gobbledygook (i.e., I'm sure I've never spoken the word "equestrian" out loud). One big problem was the lack of punctuation. Perhaps another use for this might be to create inner dialog for mentally ill characters:

wondering if I should write something about who wants to be a man they're equestrian with the Manale for Steve's angle and also the fact that I'm doing it everyday of the Lycan I got for now as I write this I'm jogging with Wii fit actually I not writing or typing I'm dictating to something and my iPod you'll see the results after I e-mail it to myself and put it up here so the question is is it possible to ride and walk or exercise at the same time and end up with a readable text. I'm not sure it is but it sure would be great if I could walk in right same time I'd like to try to write dialogs or to speak dialogs without typing get this evening sounds like him and everything will be in my own southern accent elk characters perhaps we'll something

I later realized that I might create punctuation by simply saying "period" and "comma," etc. This worked, but it's a little awkward (and a lot like that famous Victor Borge routine). I read out loud a paragraph I'd written by hand:

Earthlings are strange Megan G-alt. Perquimans in to take a lot of time with her hair. She talked about hair and her earth here have her hair may Chun. Men seem to think about Paul's throwing and kicking and hitting. The women through their hair up and divided and shaped and Minka for sure. Women had around breasts and then didn't, the sept the fact ones. Lemon tart around in high heels and then more comfortable shoes with socks, get both expected to walk next to one another as equals,

I know that "G-alt" is actually supposed to be "thought" since that's what I had written down. But if I had taken a walk and talked out a story, I'm not sure what I would end up with if it was the only copy of it that existed later. Of course, I could use this method to come up with a surprising phrases, e.g., "Lemon tart around in high heels" might be a line in a surrealistic poem (it was actually dictated as "Women walk around in high heels").

So my dream of cheap/free dictation is slightly dashed, for now, but I'll probably use this app when I do a phone interview for work, hoping it might cut down even a slight bit on all the transcription I usually do afterwards.

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