Words by Sean Douglas
While strictly not about Dyslexia, this video did get me thinking about the disadvantages we face, as Dyslexics in a text based world. As a child I don’t remember text based communication being such a big part of our waking days. We used to talk in person and on the phone; text based communication being reserved for school assignments, job applications and anything legal. Maybe if you were lucky, there was a written letter to a pen pal every few months.
In 2015, text is king and talk seems to be following in the footsteps of Prince Harry; it has no way of getting anywhere near the communication throne. Fortunately the text vs talk power struggle seems to be a cyclical one and lately, talk seems to be seeing something of a resurgence.
According to historians ‘mans’ first oral communications were grunts. This, I guess, was to elaborate on the hand gestures that were already being used. These grunts slowly grew more complexed until they formed the basis of the language we use today. It wasn’t long before humanity wanted a more permanent way to record some of the profound ideas and concepts language allowed us to convey. This was the beginning of the text, talk beef. Since that point, throughout history there has been a tussle between humanities love affair with text and speech.
The distribution of knowledge first came through the art of storytelling, which later gave way to books and newspapers, which were challenged by radio and television. For personal communication word of mouth gave way to letter writing, which was somewhat diminished by the telephone. When phones went mobile talk was once again king, until it’s younger text sibling, the SMS, started nipping at it’s bigger brothers heals.
In 2015 we are at a stage where talking to each other is the last option in a long chain of text based communication and mass media tools. SMS, What’s app, Twitter and Facebook are for many, the first options when they want to ‘chat’. In the world of business email is still king, even though, in many situations a quick phone call could achieve what multiple email messages could take days to.
I understand that there are huge benefits to using email, there is a record of what’s been said, it makes it easy to prioritise tasks and issues can be dealt with at your own pace. But when it can take so much energy for many Dyslexics to write a simple email, the pros of talk outweigh text any day of the week.
For all my ranting about business’ love affair with email the tides may just be starting to turn. The use of video conferencing and telepresence is increasingly common in meeting rooms. On the desktops of most of my corporate clients there is seldom that desktop system without the capability to make video calls. In fact in the 20-teens text and talk seem to becoming collaborative partners. Meaning we can take the best parts of each communication method and ditch the stuff that doesn’t work.
For instance I can have a free flowing two-way conversation via Skype, which I can record. From the recording I can create a simple bullet point email which gives me the paper trail I need for reference in the future. This saves me huge amounts of time and energy. In the world of personal communication ‘push to talk’ seems to be catching on in the west and video conferencing tools like google hangouts seem to be gaining traction.
One of the most interesting ways in which talk is making a comeback is with the improvements in speech recognition. What can now be achieved by simply talking to our phones or games systems seems like something straight out of science fiction. What was seen as ‘artificial intelligence’ in 90’s film and TV shows is now simply known as Siri.
In many cases speech is starting to replace the tasks we used to use our hands for. In the future, it seems safe to say that keyboards and mice will give way to microphones and eye tracking cameras. Text base input methods may soon become the preserve of hipsters; typing emails while the listen to their music on vinyl.
This may be a point of celebration for Dyslexics around the world, as the playing fields are leveled the convection of ideas will no longer rely on the mastering of the complex written rules of language, grammar and punctuation. However after watching this video (below), I can’t help thinking this new utopia we’ve craved for so long seems just a little but creepy.
The Codpast is a multimedia production from www.extraordinaire.tv