It’s hard for me to believe that I have been providing court reporting services for over 30 years (I was but a child when I started!) I’ve been thinking about how technology has morphed what was once a manual function into a fully integrated piece of technology…but one that that hasn’t changed for me personally is the fact that I am still writing shorthand, just like I learned over 30 years ago.

However, lots of things have gone by the way of the do-do bird, such as:

  • Using a manual shorthand machine, with a paper tape and a blue ink ribbon
  • Typing multiple copies of transcripts on an electric typewriter using carbon paper and a carbon eraser for mistakes
  • Dictating from shorthand notes onto a reel-to-reel tape recorder and handing them off to my typist
  • White-out to get rid of typing errors
  • Researching names, cases, etc. in places like the phone book, the law library or the public library
  • Reading back notes in court from my paper tape (where the shorthand notes are written)
  • Flagging spots I wanted to check with bits of red paper thrown into the paper tray as I wrote shorthand so I could find them later
  • Once the computer did appear, saving files to 5-1/4” floppy disks
  • Waiting 40+ minutes for my computer to translate my shorthand notes into English for a half day’s worth of testimony
  • Trying to hook up realtime for the first time in the ‘90s with cables, the “black box” and no clue why it wouldn’t work (and praying every time it would!)
  • Sending audio cassette backups with a 3-1/2” floppy of the file by courier to my proofreader

Contrasted with today:

  • From my steno machine I can read my transcript on its LED display, send my work wirelessly to my computer, and make all kinds of adjustments instantly, and create an audio backup of my work on an SD card
  • I work paperlessly on my steno machine
  • All my work is stored not only on my hard drive but up in the cloud where I can access it anywhere as long as I have an internet connection
  • I can provide realtime feeds to computers easily and can troubleshoot when there are issues
  • I can send my realtime feed over the internet to anyone with access to the internet so they can view the proceedings as they’re happening, and integrate this with video and audio streaming
  • I can send my files – both audio and transcript – to my scopist who used to live in British Columbia within minutes
  • I can do all my researching of names, spellings, etc. on the internet
  • I can give my clients not only a hard copy of the transcript, but an electronic version in several formats including pdf, database-friendly, Word and Etrans
  • I can fill out and hand in my workslips electronically
  • I can digitally sign my transcripts
  • I can read my translated notes that are in English on my computer screen

But the one thing that hasn’t changed – I still provide my court reporting services via shorthand reporting.