Predictive texting & the need for speed

More & more we rely on technology to navigate through our day-to-day activities and sometimes, we cannot imagine how we managed before the arrival of a particular convenience. In our most recent blog post, we discuss the possible consequences of becoming accustomed to technology, such as predictive texting. Do you think smart technology is creating a generation of mindless individuals? Our Mudita Community is quite diverse, so I would love to hear your thoughts on both sides of the isle. Let’s discuss!

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Those who cannot imagine a life before a technology most likely were not alive before it. Or, they know nothing of societies who today do not have that technology.

They cannot without that imagination or knowledge be grateful for that technology. They will take it for granted. They will use it in a mindless way. They will not have a backup approach for when it fails or when a Big Tech company decides to block them from using it. They will become slaves to its convenience.

We must teach history not only to teach students what not to do, what is destructive, and what is evil. We also must teach history to train students to be grateful for what they have.

This is true not only for history in general but also for the history of technologies in particular.

Knowledge of the history of a technology gives users:

  • freedom from slavery to its convenience;

  • a backup approach when it fails or is unavailable;

  • a mindfulness about its use; and,

  • a gratitude for it.

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@kirkmahoneyphd I still remember high school life without cell phones/social media & all those things have become so ever-present in our lives. I remember when my mom got her first cell phone when I was a senior & she let me use it when I went out with friends. It was an MCI phone. (Remember the telecom dinosaur MCI?) I still remember how fascinated I was with it.

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@urszula and @kirkmahoneyphd I am in certain agreement with both of you in regards to the idea that not all tech advancements are beneficial to human development. GPS is one of them for sure since it hinders remembering directions and shrinks the hippocampus. Reading a map is a lost long art for sure. However, even then, not everyone can have maps of every location in the world and some people travel for work and depend on certain level of access to quick directions.

Predictive texting (T9) is different, in my estimation. The user already knows what they are hoping to say and saving a few clicks makes the experience much better. Given that the Mudita is a physical key device, it would be helpful to have a faster way to text and get back with one’s life. At the very least, shortcuts like omw for “On my way!” or other replies can be incorporated.

There is a clear difference between a convenience that hinders the process for the end user and a convenience that makes life with less friction. I think @textbook_quest puts it well with the car comparison. I love my manual transmission car, but I do recognize that automatics are easier to drive, especially for long trips.

The question is if users have a choice. I don’t mind if people love triple clicking, that’s fine. I personally don’t have an issue using that tech since I have a long history with feature phones. However, when competitors of Mudita (Light Phone, Android feature phones, KaiOS) have access to QWERTY keyboards/T9, develop tools for texting like the Mudita Center or have apps that can replicate this behavior, and also give the option for podcasts, music, and GPS, it is hard to choose the Mudita Pure instead of the other devices. Moreover, let’s not get into compatibility for networks. If Mudita does not bring Verizon or AT&T compatibility to the USA, the market will definitely shrink given that carriers usually beat phone choice.

I love the community that Mudita is building, but listening to consumer feedback is important as well. I for one believe that a phone with the following features will satisfy most people:

  • Phone Calls (VoLTE/VoWiFi)
  • Texts (Group and T9)
  • GPS (At least getting directions, no need for turn by turn)
  • Music (Local or Stream)
  • Podcasts
  • Meditation
  • Notes
  • Calendar
  • Calculator
  • Alarm
  • One alternative messaging platform (Signal, WhatsApp, etc.)
  • Hotspot, Bluetooth, WiFi

The last one is essentially for European, Asian, Latin American, and African countries where SMS is not unlimited and messaging platforms are the way to communicate with others. Direct competitors of Mudita (Light and Punkt) have committed to all of the above and have implemented some of them already. The question is what kind of market is Mudita going to target.

Is it users who only adhere to the Mudita philosophy? Or is it a broader audience that is trying to find a device that can keep them connected while still not giving into the distracting apps of the world. Either way its fine with me, I am excited to see more competition, but I recommend that Mudita looks into the market more intently especially now that there is a 6 month delay when competitors will rise with more tools than the ones scheduled for release from the Pure.

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You know what’s worse than an embarrassing typo? Taking ten minutes out of your life to write a sentence long text message.

That sounds a bit harsh, but really it seems like a weird blog to post. Like, if predictive texting is such a problem, then make a phone with a full keyboard.

Now, I don’t actually want a full keyboard phone. I think the benefit of a phone with a numpad keyboard is people will text less — even with predictive text. But there’s no way to stop people from wanting to/needing to text. The fact is, many people I know simply won’t answer their phones and will only respond to texts, or they won’t ever listen to voicemails. It’s a fairly common attitude.

In honesty, I’m not sure how something like T9 differs from stenography. It’s basically just another shorthand format to save time. But I’m beating a dead horse. I think @Jose_Briones, as usual, has said how I feel with more grace and exactness than I ever could.

But to pile on with his perfect phone wishes: I would also dream of something at least 2/3rds the size of the Mudita Pure, if not half the size. Size, to me, is one of the biggest factors in determining how often I use a device. Even with just the iPhone Mini vs the regular sized XS, I find myself using it A LOT less. A device like this barely needs a screen at all. Obviously that’s not something you guys could change in short order. More like a V2 dream!

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Both of you bring up very good points. I must admit, this blog post was actually NOT inspired by Mudita Pure, but more with my experience with technology. As a copywriter, it’s no surprise that I write…. A LOT. However, I write mainly on my laptop, very often using GoogleDocs or MS Word. GoogleDocs uses predictive texting technology, while MS Word does not (but there is still spellcheck & grammar check).
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that when I had to write something without those tools (on a piece of paper or a board while teaching), I forgot how to spell simple words, especially when I needed to write something quickly. Most recently, while writing a birthday card to a friend, I misspelled the words ‘definitely’ & ‘against.’ Just last week, I had to take a moment & remind myself how to correctly spell February & Wednesday. As someone who routinely won spelling bees in school (7th grade champion :trophy:!), I was suddenly found myself getting dumber. Therefore, I decided to look into this & check if there is something behind this phenomenon. Imagine my surprise to find out that there is, in fact, some research which proves what’s been happening to me. That’s why I decided to write about it.
That’s why, I was excited about the e Ink typewriter we discussed in previous post.

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It feels to me like this conversation is conflating two distinct things. I’m just a luddite with a nine-year-old phone even more basic than the Pure, so maybe I’m just out of touch, but to me, “predictive text” means that when I type the first few characters of a word, the software anticipates which word I’m trying to write and offers to finish it for me. And “T9” is simply an input method. So, as I understand the terms, “T9” is not one and the same as “predictive text”—they’re two almost completely independent systems, and you can have either, both, or neither. I can certainly see the connection, because they both require access to a dictionary, but they use it in different ways. My Samsung GT-E1200 offers T9 input—you can also chose to triple click if you prefer—but it has no predictive text. When I press a key, it choses which letter that that keypress represents dynamically based on the possible combinations it finds in its dictionary, but it never anticipates what my next keypress will be, and it never gets ahead of my inputs.

Personally, I can’t stand predictive text and I agree that it causes more problems than it solves. On a full keyboard, I’m a 120 WPM typist, so I can invariably finish the word myself more quickly than I can even register what the predictive text is proposing, and moreover, it takes very few failed predictions to waste more of my time than dozens of successful ones would save. So I always have predictive text disabled on any software I use that utilises it.

But T9 is quite another thing. It is simply a vastly more efficient input method than triple clicking on a standard numeric keypad. Not having access to T9 input would significantly increase the time and the number of keystrokes it takes for me to compose an SMS, and I can not discern any benefit that that would be trading against. To echo previous posters, reducing the time I have to spend tied up in inputting an SMS allows me to return my attention to the world around me more quickly, and that clearly furthers the techno-minimalist goals of Mudita’s project—it doesn’t detract from them.

When it comes to SMS input, the only way the Pure could improve upon my ancient Samsung would be for its dictionary to be able to learn new words after repeated use. There are a couple of amusing gaps in the GT-E1200’s dictionaries (e.g., no “śpij” in Polish—imperative mood form of “sleep”), and even after nine years, it hasn’t learnt the offending words.

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@urszula, I heard an interview with an editor who said that he writes an article three times: first time, by hand; second time, on a typewriter; and, third time, on a computer.

He writes well, by the way. :slight_smile:

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@kirkmahoneyphd Now that’s DEDICATION to your art! I wish I had the patience for that.

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I was just revisiting this and noticed an important oversight in my previous post.

In general, I’m quite happy with T9 as an input method on my current Samsung. But there is a major opportunity for improving upon it. There is no way to edit the dictionary manually, and it doesn’t learn at all automatically, so for the random words that it just doesn’t know (no dictionary is going to be perfect), or the naughty words that I guess the creators chose for it not to know, or the Spanish/French/Yiddish/Polish words that I use in English all the time, I have to fight with it to work around the limitations of the dictionary. Every single time.

A phone with T9 input but a more malleable dictionary would be a substantial improvement. This seems like something where the desktop app could come in. In terms of the UI, replicating word processors’ ability to customise their spell check features would be a great solution.

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