When I met Jake for the first time, he was only 4 years old (he’s 7 now). He’s an adorable little nephew of my partner’s who lives in Canberra, Australia. At the age of 4, he was an expert at big game fishing. He knew what bait to use for catching Tuna, or Swordfish, or Mahi Mahi (a what?!) when he had never been in one of those fishing trips. He was learning about fishing through watching videos on Youtube. But he didn’t know how to read or write yet. How did he search for videos on Youtube?
The little microphone icon in the search bar on his tablet was his window to the world.
He presses the button and says whatever he wanted to learn. If the search result’s images come out like what he wanted, he then goes on and watches the videos. If the images don’t look right, he asks one of the adults and asked if the dictation was spelled correctly.
It was such an eye opening moment for me – I grew up learning from school or by the words of my parents. Voice dictation and Youtube gave Jake access to learning anything in the world he could say, even before knowing how to read and write.
This made me think deeply about what pushes people to use voice over text. As the first story of this series, I want to talk about age.
Jake’s older brother, Levi is 9. He’s loves games like Roblox and Fortnight, and even has his own Youtube channel (vlogging!). He loves playing games, he makes his own games, and he creates shirts to sell as well. While he plays games, he uses Siri’s dictation to chat with other kids or he uses Discord to chat while he’s on other games. This is a lot quicker for him and he only has to press one button instead of using many fingers to type. He’s been using voice dictation since he was 3 or 4 years old on iPad, he’s never known keyboard only input!
When I started using my first computer (like 200 years ago), I started by typing in Korean (안녕하세요~), then I practiced how to type in English. (Talking about double learning barrier that non-English speakers had to go through. This is another subject I feel passionate about.) But kids nowadays start by just saying what they want. They are already starting with a method that eliminated the tedious input work. This is so much less work than the previous typing method and they will never start typing now just like we will never start using a horse and carriage for transportation.
If you’ve got stories, anecdotes or insights about how voice input is changing your world, we’d love to hear about it at email@example.com.
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