The next episode of BBC Radio 4’s Digital Human sees presenter Aleks Krotoski takes a look a voice, or rather the lack of voice in online communications :
In this weeks Digital Human Aleks Krotoski asks if the Digital world is robbing us of our voice. When we’d rather text or message than speak to someone are we still listening?
While radio may well be thriving look at just about every other digital device and its pictures , video and text communication that dominates. So what is the future for the voice?
This has potential to be interesting, although this show runs for less than half an hour so they may not be able to squeeze enough in but voice is an issue that has been raised in many a virtual world and has been a bone of contention in Second Life since it was introduced.
So why is voice a second class means of communication online? I haven’t done any research into this but I would hazard a guess that some of the reasons are to do with identity, some of the reasons are to do with language barriers and some of the reasons are to do with the online experience being so visually rich, text simply has more mileage in the tank. However as virtual worlds become more immersive, this may change.
In February 2007 Joe Linden blogged : Bringing Voice to Second Life and over 500 comments appeared below the post, many of them disagreeing with the addition of voice. Some of the comments on that blog post explain why voice isn’t as widely accepted as text :
“The voice ‘improvement’ avoids one obvious issue… In what human language are all the voices to use? English? Chinese? Spanish? Portuguese? It’s bad enough bridging the language barriers when we are IMing (where one has time to think, compose, and apply rules of grammar and remember foreign words over a span of time)… But speaking demands faster recall and faster integration of language elements in real time… tough in one’s own language… sometimes almost impossible in another language… Good luck, but I have my doubts….”
“I suppose this was inevitable, but it will further divide those for whom Second Life is a truly second life, very possibly a fantasy life, from those for whom SL is an extension of their first life. I wonder if there will end up having to be a grid (from LL or someone else) where those who don’t just want another first life will be able to go.”
“Anoynimty has always been one of the main points of SL. Until it can be perserved then their should be no voice like Philip Linden originaly said.”
“But you have to understand the emotions and fear of the other people playing here that don’t want to use voice, either if they can’t speak well or don’t want to show their identity. SL is in my opinion a place used for leisure, fun, relaxation and even psychotherapy.
If you introduce this babylonian tower this will be the first step of isolation by nations. While chatting you still can look up the dictionary or take your time to answer. This is not possible while having a live talk. And don’t forget the dialects. not everybody speaks a clear tongue understandable even for foreigners.”
There are other objections there, people in homes with families where they don’t want to engage in voice chat because others are in the home. Females in particular have complained of being harassed about not using voice and then been accused of not really being females.
Continue reading “Will Voice Chat Dominate As Virtual Worlds Become More Immersive?”