James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.
Follow @jamescooper

It’s Sunday afternoon and the weather is absolutely beautiful. I might add that it’s not just any Sunday — it’s Mother’s Day. Needless to say, I should be spending time with my mom, not writing this blog post.

But, to all of the mom’s out there, please don’t fret. I will see my mom today. To help me write this post faster, I’m using speech recognition, specifically voice dictation. In fact, not only am I using voice dictation, it’s also the topic of this post.

I’m using the built-in voice dictation on my iPad, since Siri, along with its voice dictation capability, is not available on the iPad (unless, of course, you jailbreak it but that’s a whole other story).

Voice dictation has been around for many years. When I was in university, I can remember trying, getting frustrated with, and giving up on using a primitive version of Dragon Naturally Speaking to write a paper. The technology just wasn’t where it needed to be at that time. (In defense of Dragon by Nuance, it gets great reviews, like this one, nowadays.)

Since then, I’ve merely experimented with voice dictation on a few brief occasions. But, recently, a couple of colleagues and I contemplated how much time we could save getting words on to the screen using the technology. I came away from the conversation inspired to make a serious effort to put it to work for me. Hence, this blog post.

Dragon claims that voice dictation is “up to five times faster than typing on the keyboard”.

I agree that it has the potential to be that fast. But, to be realistic, as I dictate this post, it’s obvious that it will need to be tidied up using a keyboard. That said, I’m still convinced that I’m saving time using voice dictation. I suspect that, as I become more comfortable with the technology, my copy will require fewer and fewer keyboard edits.

Although I plan to make voice dictation a bigger part of my life, I don’t think I’ll move into a keyboard-free existence any time soon. It’s simply not practical. Case in point, at Social Media Group, we work in an open-concept environment, meaning that privacy and noise pollution become important considerations for using the technology. (My colleague, Karly Gaffney, also pointed out that talking to yourself all of the time makes you look like a weirdo.)

At this point, I think the real value of voice dictation lies in how it enables you to quickly and efficiently brain dump your thoughts into digital notes. You can then take those notes and sculpt your prose by conventional methods (i.e., keyboard and mouse).

Aside from drafting blog posts, I plan to use voice dictation to write emails, notes and work documents, to name a few. I also installed the Flex T9 app (by Nuance) on my Android phone, which is coming in very handy for text messaging.

Anyway, it’s time to wrap up this post so that I can be on my merry way to spend time with my mom. To all moms, Happy Mother’s Day (albeit belated at the time that you read this).

What are your thoughts on voice dictation? Are you using it?
Leave your comments below.

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