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Voice as Writing: Writing as Voice

Swans reflecting Elephants

There’s a liquidity of meaning at work in Google’s Voice Search. While we think of it as computers understanding speech, it’s really nothing of the kind. The kind of talking that we do when we make sounds that a computer can understand is more like writing– perhaps even like typing words. Voice becomes writing in this context.

When we use SMS, IM or Twitter writing becomes voice. We speak through marks that we make on a screen through a keyboard. We call it writing, but it’s actually a form of speech. Think about how sign language operates– it’s speaking with the hands, with the gesture.

Voice becomes writing, writing becomes voice. But the poles are not solid, meaning moves back and forth, like Dali’s paranoic critical method. Swans reflect elephants, elephants reflect swans– a most interesting form of recursion.

Published in art language philosophy poetry politics