Writing Without Hands

As those old iPhone television adverts used to profess, there is an app for just about…anything. Each obscure subject or facet of our everyday lives now seems to be supplemented by an app, which is designed to remove the supposed stress and preserve many valuable seconds of our precious time.

In terms of writing, things are no different. Technology giants Google and Apple have developed their own voice dictation programmes which allow users to speak into their mobile devices, which transfer the words you utter into the written mode.

It does all the writing for you, without the need to type. Isn’t that ingenious!

Of course, this is very common now when it comes to submitting online searches. Just tap the amplifier icon on your mobile phone or tablet and say ‘Ok Google’ in your cheeriest voice, and you are away, although make sure you speak clearly, as the kind female voice that responds to your search could end up telling you about something completely different..

Which leads me on to the subject of accuracy. The ability of many applications to recognise one’s voice and pick up the full spectrum of words, phrases and sayings cannot be underestimated. These are very strong and capable resources, but mistakes can creep in, and sifting through the prose to make the necessary edits can be time consuming.

In my experience, speaking too fast can be an issue which throws the application off course, especially when uttering a word which sounds very much like another. And then we have homophones, which can leave the text sprinkled with absurd grammatical errors before the inevitable proofreading session ensues.

My other main concern here is punctuation. This is a vital part of my writing style, so how does the technology know when I would like to use a comma, or a dash, or indeed an exclamation mark? This reservation alone has me reaching for the keyboard, where the backspace key provides undying reassurance.

But in my case, the overriding fact of the matter is that I write better than I speak. When explaining a subject such as this orally, I have a tendency to hesitate and find myself searching for the correct term or ideal point of discussion, whereas when I’m writing it comes fairly easily.

To put it plainly, while I would love the thought of saving time and energy by using a voice dictation app, using the keyboard/keypad prevents my ramblings from becoming a disjointed, convoluted mess of tag questions, misplaced verbs and incomprehensible utterances.

The ability to write eloquently and interactively for various audiences is the biggest skill that I possess, and I’m reluctant to jeopardise that it favour of adopting these superb, resourceful, but ultimately non-foolproof applications.

Moreover, the thought processes that go into writing in the conventional manner cannot be underestimated. Using the written mode requires a unique method of brain stimulation, while the spoken mode is something different entirely.

Top 10 random facts I learned in 2016

As a lover of random facts and general knowledge, I am always looking to pick up pieces of trivia which could come in useful for answering quiz questions I may be faced with in the future. Even if such facts are only needed once in my life, retaining them would have been more than worthwhile.

So as we look back on 2016, here are 10 of the most obscure facts I obtained during the previous year:

  1. Despite its name, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1919 did not originate in Spain. It actually started in the US state of Kansas, but due to Spain’s neutrality during the First World War, the press was free to report on the illness while it spread there.
  2. The inspirations behind the fairy tales Rumplestiltskin and Beauty and the Beast are at least 4,000 years old.
  3. The 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, was once fined for exceeding the speed limit on his horse.
  4. Protmusis is a type of pub quiz game which originated in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, and is popular among students.
  5. The first country to allow women to vote was New Zealand, in 1890.
  6. The term ‘Cyberspace’ was coined by the author William Gibson in his 1982 book Burning Chrome.
  7. Cormoran is a giant associated with the folklore of St. Michael’s Mount in the English county of Cornwall.
  8. In 2001, Argentina was in such political turmoil that they had five presidents in the space of two weeks.
  9. The longest winning run by a top-flight football club is 27, by Welsh side The New Saints. This run is still currently ongoing.
  10. DNA was not first discovered by Francis Crick and James Watson. It was actually discovered by Swiss biologist Johannes Friedrich Meischer in 1869

Over the next 12 months I hope to be a few steps further on the way to becoming a top quiz player.

Happy New Year!