For the Laziest Writers

I have always looked for ways of working that involve the least stress, physical or mental. Ideally, I don’t want to get out of bed to do a day’s work. This rarely happens, but because some of my work involves writing, I sometimes get to spend the day in bed, working. It’s about as great as it sounds. But, is there a way to make it even easier? I think I may have found it. Because I can work in bed, there is little physical stress involved. The mental stress is unavoidable, but I actually enjoy some of the mental stress and thinking that goes into the writing process. What I don’t like is the actual typing.

My tablet has a Gboard speech-to-text application integrated into its virtual keyboard. I believe it’s something invented by Google, perhaps to spy on all of us. They call it “voice typing.” It was quite poor in the past and required incredibly clear enunciation, lots of editing, frustration and quiet rage. However, I tried it again a few days ago and noticed that it’s actually quite good now. At the very least, it is usable. And that’s all I ask for. It has now enabled me to fulfil one of my old Proustian dreams: doing a day’s work in bed without even opening my eyes very often. What could be better?

On a more serious note, voice typing is actually very useful when you have to communicate with someone and do not want to use the virtual keyboard on your device. If you are like me and hate those things, voice typing your message is a godsend. The app on my phone is slightly different and it does not understand Finnish like my tablet app, but it’ll do in a pinch. I suppose I could configure my phone to do all the things my tablet does, but I haven’t gotten around to it just yet. Being able to talk to my phone actually diminishes stress in my everyday life, because I write emails, send messages and and write stuff on the go all the time. Having to fiddle with tiny slippery keyboards is a pain, speaking a note is much easier on the nerves. Simply put, I’m a big fan of speech-to-text, voice typing, or whatever it’s called.

Are there any downsides? Yes, of course there are. First of all, Google listens in on everything I say. Therefore, I can’t really record anything that would be considered confidential or sensitive information. It’s a bummer. Secondly, speech-to-text is useful for text that is conversational, but other genres are problematic. Blog posts are easy, text messages great, but writing something like a research article still involves sitting at the desk typing away on a keyboard. Thirdly, the text requires editing afterwards. With text messages and the like you don’t really have to be that careful, but with emails, for example, you do have to edit. There may be more downsides, but out of these three, I can live with the genre limitations and the editing. What sometimes worries me is the spying aspect.

 
Should we be worried? I worry, but I can’t get too worked up about it even if I try. There’s a recording of me speaking these words somewhere in the bowels of Google, for example, but will that information ever be used against me? There are many things we don’t know yet. Big data is a thing, but we still don’t know how the individual should relate to big data. Some are quite paranoid, others think that it’s basically a big dumb pile of data that cannot be used in any nefarious way to hassle individual people. AI has a role to play in the paranoid scenarios, but AI itself is still quite dumb. Even if some of the paranoid fears are feasible, I place my trust in the fact that nobody really cares about my data. There is nothing interesting there for anybody, I think.

Therefore, I think I will continue using this application. At least for the moment. I will continue to trust the good will and, more importantly, the indifference of my fellow Internet-dwellers. If I become an example of someone whose laziness doomed him in some way, so be it. And should something happen, I still have my notebooks, pencils and pens with which I can take notes without getting spied on by giant corporations. These thoughts, at least, are still private in the old-fashioned sense. You’re not going to see them, nor can Google access them. At least not yet.
Quido_Mánes_-_Student (2)

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