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For many years, the greatest technological advance in court reporting was the stenography machine. An offshoot of the modern typewriter, this "mechanical wonder" allowed court reporters to transcribe even the fastest speakers accurately. And even as the general business population became more and more computerized, the technology in the court room remained relatively unchanged. But in the past decade things have really changed. Today, there is barely an aspect of a court reporter's duties that has not been enhanced by computer technology. Let's take a look at a few of these advances and how they are helping attorneys enjoy a better end product and making the lives of the reporter easier as well. Computer Indexing In the past, a court reporter would compile a written record of a court hearing or a deposition and present a printed report to their client. Someone, usually a paralegal, would then have to go through the document by hand and highlight relevant passages, or search for hours in an attempt to find mention of a particular person, place or thing. Today, computer indexing gives the court reporter the ability to sort any transcription by keyword or phrase. These documents arrive via "soft copy" to the law office and are already marked by client, specific mention of an event or anything else the attorney needs to better utilize the document. Video Court Reporting It seems like only yesterday that video recorders were large, clunky devices that took two people to manipulate. Now that video recorders have decreased in size as they improve in quality, more and more court reporting services are using them to offer a video record of depositions, trials and other important proceedings. Plus, the ability to create digital copies of these events makes them that much easier to send via email or burn to disc for copies and distribution. The Internet Choosing a court reporter has also gotten easier as a result of computer technology. Thanks to the Internet, attorneys can now find their next court reporter with the click of a mouse. Many of the most prominent court reporting firms in the country offer online support and services that make booking a reporter easier than ever. Text to Type Technology One interesting advance in computer technology has been the speech-to-text software that is making the rounds at law firms and court reporting services around the country. This software allows an individual to speak into a microphone, and have the words automatically transposed into a word processing document. The process is by no means flawless, but it does give individuals a head start in the transcription process. For flawless reporting and transcription work however, a live person is still the best, most cost-efficient way to get things done. Will technology make the court reporter obsolete? The new technologies that have entered the court reporting world serve only to enhance human endeavor. The fact is there will always be a need for the human element in court reporting. Understanding the flow of dialogue, soft-spoken words and emphasis are all things that a human continues to do better than a machine.
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