I often talk about blogging as a new form of worldwide conversation that most people haven’t yet recognized as such – and of course most of humanity are still not even able to access. As one of my favourite fellow-bloggers observed, almost anyone who reads or comments on our blogs is another blogger!
Some of that conversation is activist, some philosophical, some personal, and some technological, just for a starting list of examples. One of the ‘techie’ subjects being mused about these days is ‘voice recognition’ and its impact.
CNET’s* Lee Koo asks, “Do you think voice recognition will eventually make touch obsolete?” I felt compelled to put in my two-cents’ worth:
I am 71, and wear hearing aids. But I defy anyone who would try to stereotype me. I am “with it”, have been computer-literate since the 80s, can walk, talk and think as fast as most 30-year-olds and write two blogs. Do not relegate me to history.
I am also a ‘touch-typist’, who can still type around 90 words per minute, so for me, online chatting, writing, emails, etc. are easy. Most of my friends and relatives communicate with me in writing – even nextdoor neighbours — and there are very few whose only means of reaching me is the telephone – where I have difficulty hearing.
There are also many bloggers in their 70s (perhaps older) around the world, and many people out there with hearing disabilities. I almost panic at the thought of voice recognition becoming so dominant that touch screens and keyboards become extinct. On the other hand, I have a younger friend who would be unable to use the internet were it not for voice recognition. She has a disability that makes it impossible for her to use touch. I have another younger friend whose hands are large enough that most keyboards are too small for his use, but his accent would also make voice recognition difficult. And of course there are endless varieties of accents and abilities.
An important new factor in many older people’s lives is the amazing ease of staying connected with far-away loved ones, which until recently would not have been possible. Many of them would have difficulty with voice-oriented communicating.
I think at the end of the day, what often enables people to communicate with each other – especially those anchored in one place – is the choices available to many of us. These choices are changing the world, and how we relate to each other globally. Without interference, no doubt eventually a kind of worldwide ‘democracy’ will arise. Maybe along with making internet access a human right, we should be protecting all these choices, with ‘profitability’ lower on the list of priorities. I’d be very interested to know what others think…