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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Technology... Love to hate it... Or hate to love it?

Posted by Dave Amaditz

New technology is something I'm very ambivalent about using on a day-to-day basis. It's not that I'm a technophobe, but most of the time I get so comfortable in my normal routine that I hate to waste my energy learning  the latest, greatest thing. Or, as with texting, I simply fail to see how pushing a bunch of buttons is the best or easiest way to let someone know how you feel or what you plan to do. Why not just pick up the telephone and talk in person? I accept though, that it is a part of life and one that won't soon change.
However, there is one piece of modern technology I love. It benefits me any time I use the computer, especially when I write. My voice activation software, Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
Before I purchased the software, my hunt and peck typing directly impacted the quality of my writing. Because of my spinal cord injury, the functioning muscles in my upper body were overstressed. I was constantly sore, and often struggled with tension headaches... Not a scenario conducive to good writing.
Also, my train of thought was too often interrupted as I searched to find the right keys. The perfect lines I heard in my head never made it onto paper. Ideas were lost, and time wasted staring at the computer screen trying to recover one thread of thought.
So, close to 10 years ago I took a trip to the local computer store, dropped 100 bucks on the software, which promised accuracy between 80 and 85 words per minute, and got to work. Not once have I regretted the decision.
About 10 minutes after installing the software, I was working on a Word document. At first, speaking my story into the computer was somewhat odd, having to say the word "comma" or "period" or "question mark" instead of typing them. Verbalizing my thoughts instead of transferring them directly onto the written page was strange as well. With the built-in training system, I taught the software new words, simply by spelling unrecognized proper or unusual names.
I've learned to love the technology. I've come to depend upon it.
Here's what I love about the software ...
No more soreness. (In my back, my shoulders, or my neck)
No more tension headaches.
No more losing my train of thought (age-related, maybe, but not because I'm a slow typist.)
Seeing words appear on paper almost as quickly as they come into my head.
The ability to hear each sentence of my story, each paragraph, each line of dialogue read out loud from my first draft to my last.

Obviously, using the software's been well worth it for me, but even if you're not as bad at typing as I am, I think you could benefit from using the software too.


  1. I was amazed a while back when you gave me a demonstration of the software. It's definitely well worth the money if you are not a fast typist. Technology has come a long way. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Although I'm a reasonably skilled typist, I sometimes wonder if this software would help speed up my writing, especially on those rare days when ideas are spilling out faster than they can be captured on screen. Sometime at group, maybe you can explain how you do your revisions with the software.