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If this doesn’t work, there’s always Dragon knitting

February 2, 2008

My written English and my spoken English are two different languages. I am writing this in my spoken English, without hands for the most part, and it is very strange.

I am dictating heuristically with Dragon speak, a software program that enables speech- activated word processing and other computer operations. When I become more proficient with this, I might even be able to knit while writing, though this has never been an aspiration.

I say “heuristically” because there is much trial and error that my readers cannot begin to appreciate. For one thing, I think verbally at the keyboard, whereas, as everyone who knows me knows, I think very little when I speak. 

Dragon does not always understand me correctly and becomes quite imaginative, substituting what it “thinks” it hears for what I think I am saying.  Not that I can remember what I was thinking by the time I have edited what it thinks I said.

Quite often I simply give up on what it thinks I am saying and resort to the keyboard to correct its thinking, though of course it does not think, but operates by some kind of system of inferred logic.

I am boldly undertaking to learn Dragon speak because I am becoming increasingly debilitated with carpal tunnels, and the computer keyboard generates an impact causing very painful feedback through my fingertips. Knitting is probably little help, but is actually less painful than the keyboard. Both activities are indispensable, but so far there is no Dragon knitting, nor do I hope for such a thing on the frontier.

To anyone accustomed to my writing style, I can only hope that the awkwardness of dictating, while simultaneously training Dragon speak, makes my present writing seem unfamiliar.

I edit very naturally at the keyboard, but it is difficult to edit when I see someone typing something I have said that I have not typed. Worse, it is difficult to edit when I see someone typing something I have not said.  Dragon speak types for me. Often, Dragon will mistype what I have said in a very weird way and I must pause to teach it what I actually said, losing my train of thought because the editing process is more extensive than it would be in the course of correcting a normal typo of my own.

Ultimately, the tension of dealing with the new program might prove more stressful than the symptoms I had hoped it would alleviate. So far, I have required a minimum of manual intervention to write this much. I have the sense that if the program and I are to comport to one another, the burden of comportment lies heavier with me than with the software.

And no, if I say “Computer, Earl Grey, hot,” Dragon will not bring me any tea.

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3 Comments
  1. Laura permalink
    February 2, 2008 2:58 pm

    And no, if I say “Computer, Earl Grey, hot,” Dragon will not bring me any tea.

    Well, if a robot won’t bring you tea, it’s worthless, locked up in a computer or not.

    I hope the tension dissolves soon and the tool does prove worthwhile. I for one couldn’t have told the difference in your writing here if you hadn’t told me.

  2. February 2, 2008 5:32 pm

    Laura, it’s already a case of the tool has become the taskmaster. “Taskmaster” first came out “tax master.” My Texas years didn’t help.

  3. Laura permalink
    February 4, 2008 5:27 am

    Hahaha. It don’t ax you if it ain’t sho?

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