Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An update on voice recognition software

Thanks to everyone who sent comments about voice recognition via Dragon, Microsoft, and Mac. I'm still playing with different options to see what will work.

In the meantime, I've discovered another option: Google Voice. It turns out there's an easy way to set up Google Voice so that you can dictate messages to yourself (info here). GV will then automatically transcribe them and send them to your email, or mobile device. Nifty!

Since it's free and didn't require any software installation or training, I decided to give this a shot first. The result: laughably bad transcription (see below), but a substantial boost in productivity. How's that? For me, drafting is the most time-consuming part of writing. Once I have some basic ideas on paper, I can edit and elaborate reasonably quickly. But it takes me a long time to get that first version out.

As a result, dictating an early version has been very helpful. It forces me to say something. Since I'll be editing soon, it doesn't matter if that something is bad (it is, usually). So dictation, even with GV's horribly inaccurate transcription has worked pretty well for me. Bottom line: I'm certainly going to be investing in a voice recognition package in the near future.

An example of GV transcription. Here's what I said:
This chapter describes methods and data sources for the book. My goal is to describe the logic behind the research design. The focus here is validity: what types of conclusions can we draw from these data? Technical details---of which there are many---are saved for appendices.

Here's what Google thought I said:
This chapter just tries messages and data sources for the book. My goal is to describe the logic behind the research design. The focus here is validity. What types of conclusions. Can we draw from the Yeah, technical details. I wish there are many her saved for the appendicitis.
In fairness, Google just got into this business in the last year or so. I'm sure their transcription will get better over time. But for the moment, "I wish there are many her saved for the appendicitis."

1 comment:

Buzzy said...

Despite its problems, I've got to admit that Google Voice does come in handy. I can usually get the gist of a message from the emailed transcript without having to listen to it. It at least lets me know if it's something I need to deal with sooner or later.