500 Words At A Time: Research, The Next Generation

Research, the final frontier.

Probably not, but for me a reasonably new frontier. I had, as most students, done research for a paper or two or three. I could lie and tell you how great of a paper researcher I am, but I won’t. I, like the vast majority of students, would do quick and dirty searches. Get enough information for me to write and be done. Only if the topic was of personal use to me would I do more, that did not happen often.

Then…well then I learned something about research from Paul, who started me on the path to learning a lot more than I expected when I agreed to become a student researcher for one summer with the goal of getting my brain scanned. Once the paperwork was in, hell, if I remember correctly, before the paperwork was in we were discussing and working on the plan that would become the research project.

What was the research? The differences between writing (pen, pencil, typing) and voice-to-text (Dragon Naturally Speaking) material on the reader. Eventually this would expand into the effects of voice-to-text on the writer. Would readers be able to tell the difference between traditionally written material and written material generated with voice-to-text technology? If they could, what did they notice.

The plan?* Because I had two blogs running at the time and regular readers on both, the plan was to alternate traditionally written posts and voice-to-text posts. For the voice-to-text technology I used Dragon Naturally Speaking 12. I spent the recommended time learning how to use Dragon 12 and to get the software used to me.

Slightly before posting started, Paul and I did a literature review. As a note, when doing a literature review for anything communications related START with McLuhan; I make this note because we did not and it would become an element to the poster presentation, but that is later. What we found in our literature review was nothing. That’s right. Nobody, anywhere, had or was conducting research of this nature. Paul is a researcher, he knows where to go and who to talk to, thus when I found nothing it was most likely because I did not go everywhere. Paul did, and nothing. There was a trip to Ann Arbor…I’ll get to that later, and University of Michigan, nothing. There was some tangential material, mostly related to theories of the writing and reading process, but if anyone was researching the effects of voice-to-text we did not find it. Years later, the only material from the literature review that stands out is the study a father did on his own children subjecting them to various experiments to see how they would react. He is why there is an IRB process…well him and Hitler.

I was pretty excited. I like doing things that other people have not done or not a lot of people have done and here was something that nobody was doing. I was sold. However, as much as I was sold there were issues; technological, statistically-as in I had no background in stats at all, thus Paul was giving me a crash course as he did all of the stats work (this would lead to me taking and loving a stats class…yes, another 500 Words), and more. For now, you have the gist of the research, which will assist with the next few posts.

* You will see a certain “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” process, it became our thing…what plan? 🙂

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