Would you like to write at the speed of sound?

This blog was written entirely using voice recognition software, your speed of composition is increased dramatically by talking into a microphone and having words appear on the screen

This blog was written by my voice and speech recognition software in a matter of minutes.

Modern speech recognition software really works.

Just by speaking into a headset, you can have your “robot stenographer” type words as quickly as you can speak them. Right now I am writing these words, using NaturallySpeaking by Dragon.  I’m a little rusty at this, and I’m using the old version 10, which works fine.

You “train” NaturallySpeaking by reading sample texts aloud

The software needs to learn how you pronounce words.  It also pays attention to corrections you make by hand to how it “heard” you.  Once NaturallySpeaking has learned the sound of your voice, you can speak at a normal pace and get words on the page much much faster than typing.  In fact the real challenge is devising something interesting to write, since the software captures your words so quickly it doesn’t give you much time to think.

Composing at talking speed may get you closer to your reader, who reads about twice that fast

According to Wikipedia, “The average American adult reads prose text at 250 to 300 words per minute.”  “Audiobooks are recommended to be 150–160 words per minute, which is the range that people comfortably hear and vocalize words.”*  If you are like me, you don’t type nearly that fast!

NaturallySpeaking is remarkable for transcribing interviews.

Although it’s not really feasible to train NaturallySpeaking to understand a tape of your interview subject, it’s quite simple for you to listen along, and repeat everything your subject says.  The software is not perfect but it’s faster than transcribing the tape and a lot less work.  Highly recommended.

Get a Good Headset with Microphone

The older version of the software is pretty cheap and it’s quite simple to install and train, and you get better at using it (and it gets better at understanding you) with just a little practice.  To go with NaturallySpeaking  I purchased a very comfortable and easy to connect Logitech USB Headset which has worked flawlessly.

This is the first time I’ve tried NaturallySpeaking with WordPress, and it works like a charm.  Sure I’ll have to clean up the text a little bit, but I just wrote this entire blog in a few minutes.  I can imagine using speech recognition for “automatic writing” as a method to help overcome writer’s block.

Careful, NaturallySpeaking is quite powerful

When you learn the commands it’s possible to open programs and perform other kinds of functions using only your voice.  This “feature” can get a little tricky when the software begins switching pages and opening menus by itself!  No one believes me but it ordered some chrome parts for my spacecraft, which I had to keep and look cool.  Now I’m going to use the software to see if I can fill out some meta-tags.

Postscript:  Naturally Speaking’s propensity to access menu buttons can make it very difficult to compose a “self referential” article on WordPress or blogging features since Naturally Speaking leaps out of the writing interface and goes to commands beginning with words like “WordPress.”

* Wikipedia article “Words Per Minute” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_per_minute

 

Your Writer Versus Your Editor

As a blogger you wear “two hats”: writer and editor, two roles that often fail to see eye-to-eye and the truly critical eye of the editor is best applied after the flow of the writer’s thoughts has been tapped in raw form

As a blogger you wear “two hats”: writer and editor

The writer is the font of raw ideas, the creative impulse, and the MakerThe editor is the voice of reason, the critic, and the Fixer.  Yes, the two sensibilities can be tapped in one sitting, and good writing is good editing.  But the truly critical eye of the editor is best applied after the flow of the writer’s thoughts has been tapped in raw form.

The Maker is more conversational and wordy, adding asides and stray thoughts that may distract, or may need expansion into full paragraphs. The Fixer tends to create a tighter, more compact narrative, using fewer words.  A tension sometimes arises from the tighter version’s potential loss of the spontaneity of the first flush of ideas in prolix style.

These two roles can fail to see eye-to-eye when they are different people.  But even when played by the same person, the Maker tends to want to protect the Golden Word from the Fixer.  Often well to keep these two characters separated by a day.

A tip of the space helmet to Stephen Guise whose article A Superior Writing Method inspired this essay.

My Product Review Blog Works!

Today someone searched Google with the question: “Do food mills peel and seed tomatoes”

This individual was directed by Google to BlogsNewsReviews directly to a review of the Oxo Food Mill.  Then the miracle occurred: the person clicked through to Amazon to look more closely at the food mill.  This is exactly how everything is supposed to work.  Since this blog is an affiliate of Amazon, had the visitor ordered a food mill, and perhaps they have, Amazon sends BlogsNewsReviews a small piece of the sale.

Another person typed “best swiss army knife”

and was directed to an article that addresses just that topic.  This has happened a few times now since the article asks just that question, has search “tags” about the various Swiss Army Knife tools, and specifically questions the value of getting the corkscrew when you can get a Phillips head screwdriver instead.

Organic Traffic

These visitors directed by search engines based on their own searches matching article contents are called “organic” traffic.  Organic traffic has not been referred here by another website or an ad (ad?  who has money for ads!).  The value of organic traffic is that it is a true connection between a person searching and a blog that has that information.  This is particularly exciting in the case of the food mill question — whether a food mill removes peels and seeds — since the article answers the question.  Whether the person buys a food mill or not, he or she got the right answer.  That’s organic and that’s exciting!