Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

Future Ear Daily Update: 4-16-19

“I Didn’t Write this Column. I Spoke It.”

Image: Jim Wilson/ The New York Times

Last week, New York Times columnist, Farhad Manjoo wrote a piece titled, “I Didn’t Write this Column. I Spoke It.” It’s an interesting look at how Farhad writes his articles through a combination of using AirPods, the voice memos app RecUp, and then the transcription app Descript. He’s able to walk around the city and speak his columns into life, which he then uses as a draft to work off of when he transitions to the traditional means of a computer and keyboard to finalize and publish his pieces.

Here’s what Farhad had to say about his experience:

“Writing by speaking has quietly revolutionized how I work. It has made my writing more conversational and less precious. More amazingly, it has expanded my canvas: I can now write the way street photographers shoot — out in the world, whenever the muse strikes me (or more likely, when I’m loafing around, procrastinating on some other piece of writing). Most of my recent columns, including large portions of this one, were written this way: first by mouth, not fingers.”

As he points out in the piece, “there is something more interesting here than a newspaper columnist’s life hack.” He refers to this new phenomenon as the “screenless-internet” (which is more-or-less adjacent to the term voice-first, which I tend to use). The internet of tomorrow is shaping up to be much more ambient and multi-modal, meaning more device types (think every device being connected and part of the network), with voice at the center of it all as the core user-interface (UI).

Voice as a UI has been made viable in recent years thanks to advancements in natural language understanding (NLU), speech to text processing, a more connected & powerful cloud processor, and hardware that is designed for communicating with our machines via smart assistants (AirPods; smart speakers & smart displays). All of this equates to more intelligent smart assistants that don’t constantly ask you to repeat yourself (this still happens, but it’s decreasing in frequency).

Farhad’s experience is a great example of  the shift toward the internet of tomorrow. As he points out, it’s not as if the keyboard and computer method of writing his articles is no longer relevant, instead, this experience of using the “screenless-internet” augments his writing process. That’s the key point about moving into this new era of computing – it’s an additional layer and UI to begin leveraging so that you are less dependent on legacy interfaces if you so choose to be. The choice now exists and will continue to become more viable as the underlying technology powering our smart assistants and the voice UI continue to mature.

-Thanks for Reading-


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