[TMTpost’s new column Photo Gallery aims to record individuals and entrepreneurs in the Internet industry: whether young ambitious entrepreneurs who have just found their place in the world of business, star investors who walk through different venues, programmers who spend hours of time writing codes in front of the computer screen, or Internet operators, geeks, even delivery guys…It is their collective efforts and devotion that constitute the Internet world we live in right now, so their moments are worth recording, and remembering. Photos don’t lie, but they don’ tell the whole truth; photos are free, but they are also full of traps. Therefore we present the images we see, and let you have your own understanding of these individuals.]
In an era of cutting-edge technologies and constant changes, stenographers are seldom known by the public. Although their job doesn’t involve any cutting-edge technology and seem pretty unremarkable, they are playing a key role in recording in time every speech worth spreading, especially when everyone loves to share his or her own opinion in the Internet era. In this sense, these bunch of people should be treated seriously, and their own stories are also worthy of recording.
Ren Qainle, a stenographer for 11 years, loves her job. She doesn’t have to work 9/5, yet she can encounter people of all walks of life and accumulate different fields of knowledges every day, which is more than suitable for an introvert who prefers to work and study by herself.
Since 2014, she began to work as stenographer for a growing number of conferences, summits and roadmaps related to the Internet. While those guests came up with new concepts, cited novel examples, called on the audience with passion, she was supposed to record all their ideas word by word.
What’s her attitudes towards the Internet industry, entrepreneurship and the abuse of expressions and words? This is exactly what we aim to find out in TMTpost Photo Gallery 007.
How fast can a stenographer type? As a matter of fact, one can start to work as an intern when he or she can type 220 Chinese characters per minute and keep an accuracy rate of 95%. Ms. Ren decided to be a stenographer near the end of 2004. After practicing from 6 am to 10 pm for nearly three months, she finally became a competent stenographer. By now, she can already type 400 Chinese characters per minute within 5 minutes.
After graduation, Ms. Ren, majoring in tourism and hotel management, worked as a tourist guide for almost a year and even once worked in a hotel for half a year. However, she was too introverted for these jobs. After coming to know stenographer as a job in 2004 via the Internet, she decided to move from Shanxi province to Beijing to learn to be a stenographer. “All I need to do is sit down and type. I don’t have to communicate with others, and I can finish my job onsite,” she recalled. However, there is always the other side of the story: the training was pretty boring at first, since she was supposed to learn to type with tricky fingering and practice to dictate one piece after another. “Many people couldn’t stand and just quit. Up till now, I am the only one left that are still working as a stenographer,” she sighed.
There are 24 buttons (12 on each side) on a short-hand machine. Stenographer might have to sometimes click 6 buttons at the same time. “I shall live longer since it must be pretty good exercise for my brain when I constantly listen, memorize and type,” she said, jokingly. However, the biggest obstacle for her is to record speeches related to a specific fields, especially medicine. “At first, I could barely understand what those speeches mean,” she recalled.
On December 17th, 2015, Mr. Ren was preparing for a roadshow in Haidian District, Beijing. As a matter of fact, Mr. Ren has watched over 50 roadshows in total in 2015. “First-time entrepreneurs are too nervous and often lack speech experiences, so they just choose to read PPTs,” she found. In addition, she observed that: while investors worried about the financial status of entrepreneurs a lot, most entrepreneurs just equivocated, believing that their own money were the company’s, and the company’s theirs. Also, most entrepreneurs lacked innovation and were merely exploring new segment markets by repeating others’ models.
Some entrepreneurs were taking pictures outside of the roadshow hall. In her memory, many investors were pretty arrogant towards entrepreneurs. A college entrepreneur who worked on O2O project impressed her most: before he could finish his speech, an investor belittled him to nothing. While the student dare not to say anything to rebuke, the investor began to teach the student what an ideal O2O project should look like. It was only when the other investors couldn’t watch more his lecturing that they came to the student’s rescue.
Admission tickets she collected after each activity she worked for. “People in the Internet industry tend to talk faster, and some people can even deliver a speech at a speed of 350 Chinese characters per minute,” she concluded. At first, she was quite amazed by the way of thinking, the intellectual calisthenics of them, yet she began to find everybody talking about the same thing again and again. For example, these bunch of people love citing Jack Ma as an example and boasted that they didn’t like Jack Ma’s idea when he turned to them for help.
On December 20th, Mr. Ren was recording the names of all the guests before a summit on the integration of video and TV. “I shall come early for at least half an hour to make necessary preparations,” she said. She was late for only once because the subway went off work. She loves her job and plans to work for a lifetime, since she loves learning new knowledges every day.
Ms. Ren used to serve as the stenographer for Xi Jinping when he visited Beijing Normal University in 2014. She has recorded words and speeches of people from all walks of life on all types of occasions during the past 11 years. At first, she would get nervous when she encountered some celebrities or high-level officials, but as time goes on, she began to treat all of them merely as a speaker or spokesperson, and won’t think high of anyone only because how famous they are or what titles they are.
Mr. Ren could hand in the short-hand transcript shortly after each conference. In 2010, she was promoted by Lu Wei, the then vice president of Xinhua News Agency, to work as stenographer for Xinhua News Agency. “Mr. Lu is quite ‘fashionable’ and promoted me because he saw the huge improvement of efficiency stenographer can contribute to,” Ms. Ren said. After all, she chose to leave, tired of conferences and speeches of similar contents. She wanted to work for companies where she could get access to a wider range of knowledge.
She used to live in a basement when she first came to Beijing. At that time, she couldn’t earn much money since she was still green. Oftentimes, she would get upset by the gap between the high-level conference halls he worked in and the tiny basement she lived. “The point when I didn’t want to go back to my basement most was when I was walking on platform bridges and seeing the hustle and bustle of urban life after work. What I thought most at that time was how to lead a decent life in Beijing,” she recalled.
After years’ of practice, she has become pretty experienced and could get access to more job opportunities. At the same time, when she has grown deaf to the gap between her life and work, she miraculously find herself content with her current life.
Ms. Ren was working in her apartment in the evening of December 17th, 2015. She led a regular life and loved to be alone. She got up at 4 am and went to sleep at 10 pm every day. When she was at home, she would spend most of her time meditating and reading books. Currently, she was dictating a 70-hour interview of an academician. “My transcript will be used to publish a book for him. I was too busy near the end of years, so I have to do this when I am back at night or during the holiday,” she told me.
Before she moved to Beijing, Mr. Ren used to work as a tourist guide in Wutai Mountain. She started to be veteran in 2010 and would serve as volunteers in a Buddhist temple oftentimes. “I often help dictate speeches from the temple for free,” she said. Before she helped out, the temple used to hire 20 person to record a one-hour speech.
Ms. Ren didn’t love Beijing, and didn’t feel a sense of belonging even though she has worked here for 11 years. Time flies, but she doesn’t have much time to think about the future. “I have to say in Beijing since there are more job opportunities here for my job. Moreover, there are things that I can get only here in Beijing,” she said.
The price of stenographs varies from 3,300 to 5,800 RMB, while the salary for stenographers also varies from 800 to 1,200 RMB per three hours. An experienced stenographer can earn around 10,000 RMB monthly, and there are at most 1,000 stenographers across China, especially in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. “There are some stenographers in Hangzhou. For example, Jack Ma has his own stenographer,” she revealed. Speaking of voice recognition technologies, she said that there were too many limits for such technologies: the speaker has to speak Mandarin in a quite hall with WiFi connection. “Such technologies can only be used in a limited circumstances. For example, if a writer want to write a book, he can tell the story and let the voice recognition machine record and dictate the entire book.”
TMTpost Photo Gallery
Special column of TMTpost
Aiming to record individuals and entrepreneurs in the Internet industry
Photos don’t lie, but they don’ tell the whole truth
Photos are free, but also full of traps
This is an Internet age, and we want you to discover stories with us online
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @fliesslaughterhouse, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at ECHO), working for TMTpost.