I hadn't expected speech recognition to be this much fun. Something magical happens when I take my fingers off the keyboard. I give myself permission to talk in an unstructured way. Instead of looking down at my laptop monitor, I find myself looking up imagining myself talking to a friend. I'm free to use gestures, turning an idea over and over, trying to grasp what I want to say. And most surprising of all, I can feel the difference when I can hear my own enthusiasm. That clues me into the topics I want to talk about.
I tried this before with a voice recorder. I never found the time to listen to myself again, trying to pick out my words against the background of subway announcements and crowd chatter. Somehow, working with the computer changes things. Dragon NaturallySpeaking skips over my silences, successfully transcribes many of the words even in a rapid-fire brain dump, and breaks apart the phases of seeking out what I want to say, figuring out how to say it, and editing it into something that makes sense.
I don't use it all the time. I'm a little self-conscious about talking to my computer when there's somebody else in the room. (At this, W- smiles at me.) I still carry a portable voice recorder, but because my recorder doesn't do any noise cancellation, I find the easiest way is to re-dictate the interesting parts. But I appreciate the freedom that dictation gives me. I don't know if I work any faster or slower with it, but I do know that I work differently. And if it lets me reach different ideas, then it'll be well worth it.