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Jay Lake
Date: 2013-06-18 04:44
Subject: [cancer|writing] Why I don't use dictation software (yet)
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal, process, writing
In various discussions of my issues with hand-foot syndrome, people have asked if I would consider using Dragon or some other dictation software. The short answer is, "Not yet."

Here's why:

I am in no wise philosophically opposed to using such a solution. In my Day Jobbe life, I have more than a passing familiarity with Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) technology. It's wonderful stuff and can be quite powerful. I like the concept plenty. ASR can be liberating on a number of fronts, from the narrowly technical to the profoundly creative. There's only one small problem.

I don't talk like I write.

For a long time I've been of the opinion that if you stuck a professional writer's head into an fMRI machine (presumably whilst still bolted to the rest of the professional writer in question), you'd find that the speech center which lights up when composing fiction is distinct from the speech center used for ordinary, everyday communication. It's English as both a first language and a second language. In my case, my written fiction syntax and style are noticeably different from my spoken syntax and style. Sentence length and complexity, word choice, rhythms — I'm two different people.

The writer who's been in careful training since 1990 is a different speaker than the blabbermouth who might use Dragon. The stories each of me can and would tell are quite different.

So while I'll turn to Dragon if I can, once my hands give out if they do, I don't want to go there too soon. I'll lose something essential. I might gain something just as wonderful — I am open to the possibility — but right now I value what I have while I still have it.

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User: asakiyume
Date: 2013-06-18 12:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh, very interesting. I'd never thought about it, but I think the same is true for me, too. Furthermore, I just don't think up the story in an articulated way. I muse and stare out the window, then put down a sentence, then alter it, then put down another sentence, then combine them, then write another, the go back and switch a word.... I'd have to develop a different way of composing if I were using voice recognition software. You too, I suppose. It would/will be like training yourself to write with your non-dominant hand. (Sort of.)

Have the unpleasant side effects plateaued, or are they still getting worse?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-06-18 12:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Have the unpleasant side effects plateaued, or are they still getting worse?

Well, my fingers are peeling like crazy, so... ;(
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asakiyume: Aquaman is sad
User: asakiyume
Date: 2013-06-18 12:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Aquaman is sad
Like when we used to put glue on our fingers and then peel it off, only way more painful and unpleasant :-(
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User: a_cubed
Date: 2013-06-18 12:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hmm, I definitely lecture and make research presentations in a different way to my writing, whether textbooks, lecture handouts (separate from the "slides" I use) or research papers. I wonder if this is something writers should consider - whether they can produce two different kinds of work by typing and by dictation. Of course, people in business long used dictation before everyone learned to use a keyboard themselves. I wonder if business communications have substantially changed due to this shift?
Interesting point. Thanks for sharing.
As always, fuck cancer, and the side effects of chemo on the side, too.
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User: barbarienne
Date: 2013-06-18 15:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I find the same division in my head, but the nonfiction/essay/blog stuff is the same voice that speaks out loud for me.

If you are the same, perhaps Dragon could help at least minimize your exposure, if you use it for the blog and such, but not fiction?
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David Wilford
User: David Wilford
Date: 2013-06-18 16:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Reading vocabulary differs from spoken in my experience, and I also don't write the same way I speak. I think part of that is how we visually process the words as we write them, which is a feedback that speaking doesn't give you. On the other hand, speaking words give you aural feedback as does the physical effort of speaking itself, which influences the words we use.

Maybe having a sort of teleprompter displaying your words as you speak them would give you the best of both worlds, so to speak.
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User: ramblin_phyl
Date: 2013-06-18 16:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dragon slows me down. Requires extra edit time after use, even though I tend to plan sequences in my head before writing. I only use it when my hands are totally crippled with arthritis and I'm on deadline. First draft only.
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LiveJournal: pingback_bot
User: livejournal
Date: 2013-06-19 12:34 (UTC)
Subject: "Lakeshore - [cancer|writing] Why I don't use dictation software (yet)"
User natf referenced to your post from "Lakeshore - [cancer|writing] Why I don't use dictation software (yet)" saying: [...] not the case for many people. Lakeshore - [cancer|writing] Why I don't use dictation software (yet) [...]
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Nat S Ford
User: natf
Date: 2013-06-19 12:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My thoughts on this, even though I do not write as much as you do (yet). I ideally want to be able to use the thought dictation kit that is discussed in Dune Messiah. I would love to be able to get down into writing/pixels/electrons all the things that I think/remember.
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User: msconduct
Date: 2013-06-19 13:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I used to use Dragon for writing when I had RSI. I was helped by having a job at the time in which I used to dictate lengthy written case summaries/decisions, so I was used to writing out loud, but to me it did feel like writing rather than talking as I am very visual and see the actual words in my mind's eye. I can see that might not be case for a less visual person, especially so for someone auditorially inclined.
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