I am reporting to you (that is, I’m talking, and Dragon is typing) on my speech recognition software, called “Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred”. It just arrived today, took about half an hour to read the instructions and started into it. I am actually shocked at how easy it is and how well it’s going, especially considering that I don’t really know how to use it and I certainly don’t know how to make all the clever changes that no doubt I will be able to make after a few days of use. Now, to show you how easy it is to use and how clever it is in picking up complicated words, sentences, and paragraphs I will quote a lengthy paragraph from Allan Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind” (page 55 bottom) that John Marini brought to my attention in his last podcast:
“But the unity, grandeur and attendant folklore of the founding heritage was attacked in so many directions in the last half-century that it gradually disappeared from daily life and from textbooks. It all began to seem like Washington and the cherry tree—not the sort of thing to teach children seriously. What is influential in the higher intellectual circles always ends up in the schools. Leading ideas of the Declaration began to be understood as 18th-century myths or ideologies. Historicism, in Carl Becker’s version both cast doubt on the truth of natural rights teaching and optimistically promised that it would provide a substitute. Similarly, Dewey’s pragmatism -- a method of science as the method of democracy, individual growth without limits, especially natural limits—saw the past as radically imperfect and regarded our history as irrelevant or as a hindrance to rational analysis of our present. Then there was Marxist debunking of the Charles Beard variety, trying to demonstrate that there was no public spirit, only private concern for property, in the Founding Fathers, thus weakening our convictions of the truth or superiority of American principles and our heroes. Then the Southern historians and writers avenged the victory of the antislavery Union by providing low motives for the North (incorporating European critiques of commerce and technology) and idealizing the South’s way of life. Finally, in curious harmony with the Southerners, the radicals in the civil rights movement succeeded in promoting a popular conviction that the Founding was, and the American principles are, racist. The bad conscience they promoted killed off the one continuing bit of popular culture that celebrated the national story -- the Western.”
In the above paragraph the dragon made nine mistakes three of which were repeated twice. For example, the word “as” was written “is”; “in” came out as “and”; and “myths” came out as “mats”; and “hindrance” was typed as “irrelevance”. The word “grandeur” and “seriously” also came out as other words. Now, considering everything, especially that this is only the start and I am slow to learn any new technology, this isn’t bad! Furthermore, I was speaking as I normally would. I did not slow down. In fact, the instructions tell me not to read unnaturally slow. Furthermore, it claims that, over time, it will get better because Dragon will get used to how I speak. So far, I’m impressed.
Let’s try a few lines from Shakespeare and see how the Dragon picks it up: “Let Roland Tiber melt, and the wide arch of the range of Empire fall! Here is my space. Kingdoms are clay.” Not perfect, but you can hear how she would make “Rome in Tiber” become “Roland Tiber.” And “range” should be “ranged.” And I haven’t got the exclamations down yet!