Ultralight writing gimmick

Ultralight writing gimmick

I’m used to writing with no keyboard; I’ve been doing it for years. But just recently I switched to writing, at least sometimes, without a computer. In fact I’m doing it right now. Total weight for everything is four ounces. Battery life, days. It feels like using a Kindle, except for writing instead of reading – Kindle being a device minimized for reading and nothing else, here’s a device minimized for writing, writing, and nothing but. I was pushed into it by my daughter Sally. She writes with one of these, and she told me I needed to try it out.

What is it? It’s called an Olympus DS 7000 voice recorder. It’s expensive, considering how simple it is, but it’s smoothly designed to work with Dragon, giving clear output of anything you dictate. You simply write something, by voice, and later you plug the thing into your main computer. Dragon takes it from there and types clean text.

I had to take Sally’s strong recommendation on faith; it didn’t seem like something I would really use. But now that I have it, it’s my favorite way to write. Right now, for example, I’m up a canyon outdoors in a fairly strong wind. Sound quality isn’t going to be the best. Dragon is going to make mistakes. I know this, but it’s not interfering in the slightest with the creative process of laying down words. I’m not going to see the errors until later. And then – and here’s the sweet part – I’ll put on my headset, and listening to my own voice in the original recording I can dictate any corrections right over top of the typed text in a single pass, at the speed of my own voice. Fact is though, the original transcription is surprisingly good in spite of wind and noise. The last two posts on this blog, for example, were dictated driving down Interstate 15 at 80 mph to the roar of my truck, and, while there were the inevitable and forgivable errors of course, they were spaced sufficiently apart that I could correct them in a single pass at full speed through the recording.

What I really love about this is the overall feeling while writing – ultralight, minimalist, and one-handed, with no computer to distract. The process of making corrections (which is always there in any kind of writing, and especially voice recognition) that process is removed from the creative process of laying down thoughts into words. Just like Kindle, this is another example of how, in the world of gadgetry, there’s certainly a place for the Swiss Army knife – smartphones and computers – but there’s also a place for beautiful little devices designed, bottom to top, around a single purpose.

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