I think we could mount a similar defense of the need to engrave things on clay tablets, the need to use horses to pull buggies, and all manner of other anachronisms. The fact is, microphones do an excellent job of picking up speech in difficult circumstances provided they are located proximate to the people speaking. This is not difficult to do, and these days high-quality microphones are very cheap indeed. The stenographer, conversely sits in a fixed location and may not at all hear what is being said with any great fidelity. I’ve personally gone through several sets of court stenographic records and found multiple errors and omissions. Score zero for stenographers over microphones there.

Next, transcription. If we have a high-quality audio recording, why do we need a transcription? Unless some key person in the case at hand is deaf, it is quite an astonishing assumption. Presumably the ancient Egyptian equivalent of the court stenographer would argue that only bas-relief pictograms could be regarded as the “right” way to present information. In reality, our default to text occurred because for the last few hundred years we didn’t have access to cheap hi-fidelity audio recording and playback technologies. Today we do. That’s why people listen to music rather than peruse sheet music.

In short, there is zero requirement for an anachronistic process that is error-prone and pointless. But if you think otherwise, I happen to have a rather nice buggy in good condition; you only need supply the horse.


Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store