Every week I collect the Voice domain developments into a single list of things you shouldn’t have missed.
Before we start, a question to help ponder:
Is Voice about Voice technology or is it about Voice as a channel?
Many see Voice as an interface, which can be seen as the beginning of a channel view. Academics who study voice technology and are cracking the hard nuts see Voice as a technology.
In researching this I came across a familiar scholar: Marshall McLuhan. By chance Sam (remember him! 8-) sent me a talk of his where he talks about the acoustic world
last week. His framing is that of acoustics (which is includes voice) being the original medium to communicate and that of the visual (of which writing is a form). The visual world is ‘just’ a derivative of the acoustic world. Writing doesn’t capture all of that what is to be communicated but is unparalleled in distribution and therefore many times more powerful.
Something to think about.
And on a side note, have you tried Spatial Audio? It’s this new technology where, when you listen using your hearable, the audio has a special spacial experience. You can hear sounds or people behind you, beside you, or even above. It makes the experience more natural if you listen to a podcast using this technology.
Back to: is Voice a technology or a channel? Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement of ‘The medium is the message’ is of use here. It means that the nature of a medium (the channel through which a message is transmitted) is more important than the meaning or content of the message. Maybe the same can be said for Voice technology. The nature of the voice channel (or medium) is more important than the technology enabling it. The nature of the voice channel is where the impact lies.
What does Voice as a channel enable? This is also where the acoustic talk of McLuhan comes into play. What gets added back in when we use voice instead of the (secondary) visual world? Some examples:
It makes the inclusion effects so interesting. Older adults are naturally enabled to use Voice instead of being repulsed by the complexity of use which normaly accompanies a new technology or channel.
Also, the Voice channel is where, during development, it is a requirement to include users in de design process. It is impossible to design conversation systems without users. In other channel development processes, you can still stay away from involving users because a mediocre product will suffice. Or, let’s have no judgment, a straightforward webpage or mobile app is easy to make without user involvement during the design.
I don’t have all the words yet for the answer of what gets back added in when we move from the visual to the acoustic world. But it helps me see Voice as a channel, a medium even. Where the effects of the medium are more important than the technology of the contents.
Back to the original question: is Voice a channel or technology? It’s a matter of perspective. Are you a researcher or a machine learning specialist? Then it is about the voice technology. Like the mechanic seeing the engine. Not the car. Yet are you a driver? Then you see that car. Not the engine.
Better engines make better cars yet cars get people from A to B. Cars started eating out culture, suburbs, and more (read From Luxury to Necessity
for many examples). With any perspective, you need to be clear about what yours is and when to apply it. In this newsletter, we go for the car, the channel, and we honor the technology and the academics.
Ok, that alls for today’s philosophical meanderings! Let’s pick this up at Thursday’s Voicelunch. Anyone know any technology or media philosophers to invite?
Now back to the regular program starting with a selection of events.