It’s a fascinating thing to consider how technology is not only changing our world around us but even the WORDS we use to DESCRIBE the world around us.
That’s a bit “Inception”-esque, is it not? As mere mortals, we create the machine that then changes the way we communicate with and about the machine. Or, get this: We modify the machine to communicate more like us! AKA human voices like my AI girls “Alexa” and “Siri.”
What a tangled web we weave, no?
Our ability to adapt to a new set of norms happens so swiftly that we don’t take the time to ask ourselves, much less understand, “What’s happening?”
This topic intrigued me so much I foraged the deep, dark corners of the interwebs (kidding, I won’t glamorize a simple rabbit hole) for the most interesting angles on how tech is changing the way we talk.
First, I’ll talk about a program that can dubb your voice, and then about an incredibly clever Canadian Internet Communication Linguist. (Intriguing job title, right?)
Descript’s “Overdub” Program That Creates A Text To Speech Digital Voice Based On Your Real One
Yeah, you read that right. Freaking cool, right?
“Descript” is the latest startup coming from Groupon’s founder Andrew Mason, which he created as a spin-off of his previous business “Detour.” Detour got acquired by Bose in 2017… Nbd.
Descript followed suit by snagging a whopping $15M last year and introduces Overdub. This program creates a digital voice (resembling the user’s) through the magic of text-to-speech language processing and a little help from AI.
Is your mouth on the floor yet? What an ingenious idea in the age of podcast creation. Language processing? Now there’s a concept we can get behind. And, one that could revolutionize digital marketing, at that.
While exploring the idea of how technology and language shape each other in inexplicable ways, this program couldn’t be ignored. The quest for nuance in internet communication is never-ending for those of us in digital marketing, and Descript poses a way to achieve it in an extremely efficient way; a digital voice via text-to-speech instead of hours of extra work recording take after take. This is AI, podcast creation, and language processing reimagined.
Gretchen McCulloch’s “Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language”
I wouldn’t be able to explore this topic without the great Gretchen McCulloch. McCulloch is an internet linguist: she breaks down the language of the internet FOR people of the internet.
Her book, “Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language,” is a New York Times bestseller. And, if you can’t get enough of that, this sharp, tech-savvy genius also has a podcast “Lingthusiasm.” (Wonder if her podcast creation would benefit from Descript’s “Overdub?” Who can know!)
Gretchen McCulloch breaks down internet communication in her book, contrasting the old rules vs. the new rules.
The old rules had to do with top-down matters such as abbreviations or punctuation. These days the matters are more “of the heart,” like how people interpret your digital “tone of voice.”
The internet has brought about new rules, using language to connect people, where the olden language was more focused on intellectual superiority. In digital marketing, we are constantly taking these “to the heart” matters, well, to heart. Tone is incredibly important in our field, and due to the nature of our work, miscommunications can be hard to avoid.
McCulloch breaks down the many ways one can change their digital word usage like “LOL,” keysmash, (i.e., “sdfkdfj” to represent frustration), passive aggression through the use of periods, etc.
As someone who used AIM through middle school and relished in the strategic art of the “passive-aggressive away message,” I can tell you one thing: Internet lingo matters.
To Wrap Up
The speed at which language evolves could break your neck. We are such an adaptable, evolving species that we may roll with it without even noticing. With the internet and social media, the world connects like crazy. We’re consuming words and ideas like carnivores and spreading said content faster than a virus.
It’s ridiculously fascinating and worth having a chat about. Drop a comment below or hit us up!