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Why do we type this way?

By Tink! ·
I saw the following article and thought it was interesting. I remember when I learned to type on my brother's Apple IIe I tried learning the Dvorak method too - just for fun. I don't know if I could switch now after typing Qwerty method for so long.

Do you think Dvorak will ever be the standard?
What are the pros and cons?

Qwerty Query: Why Do We Still Type This Way?
By Dory Devlin
Mon May 22, 2006 12:40PM EDT

I went to our town's middle school last night to hear Willard Daggett, an education consultant, talk about the dismal job we are doing educating our kids for a global economy they will be hard-pressed to compete in. Big issues, but one small one caught my ear.

The Qwerty keyboard. We've been using it since the 1870s, when typewriter inventor C.L. Sholes moved letters around the keyboard so typewriter keys would stop jamming.

Well, we don't use typewriters anymore. Technology has caught up with human dexterity. Jamming keys are no longer a problem. And the gymnastics our fingers do on the Qwerty keyboard can exacerbate repetitive stress problems.

In the 1930s, Washington State University Professor August Dvorak came up with a more common-sense design that placed some of the most commonly typed letters, including vowels, on the home row. (Pictured above) A typist can type about 400 of the most common words in the English language on the Dvorak keyboard home row, compared with about 100 on the Qwerty keyboard home row.

"Why," Daggett asked, "aren't my grandchildren learning to type on a keyboard that is 28 percent faster and won't lead to carpal tunnel syndrome?"

He asks a good question. One, I have to admit, I have never given much thought since the Qwerty keyboard is all I've known. Anyone can change the keyboard layout to Dvorak settings in Windows. And many who are battling RSI (repetitive stress injuries) have done so. But, as this Forbes article suggests, isn't it time for a new universal keyboard design that can help speed typing without mangling a new generation of hands?

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Not sure

by ozi Eagle In reply to Should we take a touch-ty ...

I need to look at my keyboard, but seem to "know" where the keys are, though I often hit the key next to the one I want.
I don;t know my speed.

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Touch typing

by mjd420nova In reply to Why do we type this way?

I've learned programming on so many different
keyboards--Used so many wacko multiple key-
strokes-- Any the throw in the nutty symbols.
I can't touch type unless I want to spend
an equal amount of time debugging the lines
I've written.

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Keymap Anarchy!

by Shadetree Engineer In reply to Why do we type this way?

Hi, just thinking about this. Isn't the future Great?

Alpha Wave sounds nice provided it includes some artificial intelligence based on the user profile, that is; the software learns what you would want to say in context with what you are doing and for example - ask before sending that e-mail, or high-lighting the section that appears to deviate from the context of the message and prompt a mental 'back-on-track' command.

Teaching any keymap I would think, is going to include a basic flaw in that every task should be attempted with a limited amount of flexibility.

The children should be taught how to re-map their keyboards to accomodate special needs or specific tasks. They should learn how to be flexible, and so be able to find their own solutions in a changing future.

And there should be more keyboards like this one:

Now to attack my key-board with screw-driver and savage abandon!

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Key Glove!

by Tink! In reply to Why do we type this way?
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typing speed, and keymap vs. keyboard

by apotheon In reply to Why do we type this way?

I've been thinking about this a bit. One of the big selling-points of the Dvorak keyboard is the supposed typing speed increase that people claim inevitably follows familiarity with the new keymap. I'm not so sure that typing speed is entirely due to the rearranged keys, though.

People use the sigils on the keys as a crutch. Even touch-typists do so: they "cheat", glancing at the keyboard every now and then to ensure that they're finding the correct keys with their fingers while they type. Being forced to ignore the keyboard entirely, only looking at the screen and/or any copy that is being entered, or even at nothing at all, impels one to learn the layout of the keys better so that the use of the keyboard becomes more intuitive and automatic -- which, of course, lends to greater typing speeds.

This is amply demonstrated by the simple fact that users of Das Keyboard, a keyboard designed specifically for people who are too cool for normal keyboards, also tend to find themselves typing faster once they've gotten used to it. The increase in typing speed may not be quite as significant, and Dvorak may indeed help increase typing speeds slightly just by virtue of the differing keyboard layout, but I think that part of the reason for the reported increases in typing speed must be simply due to the fact that many users of a Dvorak keymap are only changing the keymap for their current, qwerty-layout keyboard, which forces them to ignore the sigils on the keys.

Another reason for a perceived increase could, of course, simply be the fact that people who've switched to Dvorak probably spend more time practicing typing speed. After all, if you're interested in comparing typing speeds, you're going to spend a lot of time with typing speed software that will tell you how fast you're typing. It's a bit like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which states that you cannot know both the velocity and location of a given particle simultaneously: in this case, the very act of monitoring your typing speed affects that typing speed.

I wonder what sort of clinical trials might produce useful results. I suspect they'd have to start with blank keyboards and people who have never used a keyboard before. That'd be pretty difficult to arrange.

By the way, here's a link to more information about Das Keyboard (which is far cooler than I've made it sound):

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So it's just a "Back to the Future" KB...

by btljooz In reply to typing speed, and keymap ...

apotheon, did you READ my post "Touch typist here..."????????

I'll re-iterate a bit for you:

When I learned to type in the 10th grade I learned on MANUAL typewriters withOUT letters on the keys.

THAT is ALL this "new-fangled" keyboard of 'yours' is: SIMPLY a keyboard without letters on the keys and some gimmicks (e.g.: gold contacts on the keys, etc.) added to get people to lay out the $ for the thing!!!!!

ROTFLMFAO that people would actually be taken in by such a marketing $!!!!!

I don't need golden keys to get the job done because I learned to type CORRECTLY (...not to mention the HARD way!) in the first place.

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by apotheon In reply to So it's just a "Back to t ...

It's a lot more than "gimmicks", pal.

The gold contacts improve conductivity when the switch is closed on each key, allowing for better key switch calibration.

It uses mechanical switches instead of membrane switches (it's almost impossible to find a new mechanical switch keyboard for under $100 retail these days, all because membrane switch keyboards are cheaper to manufacture, though they are also crap in comparison).

Keyboard durability and operational lifetime is greatly increased due to the quality components and manufacturing of the keyboard.

It uses home-row index finger scooped keys rather than the annoying bump-marked keys that have become de riguer (and contribute to callouses and irritation from long use).

For someone that types as much as I do and has used darn near every general keyboard-type on the planet, it's generally pretty clear how much difference those "gimmicks" can actually make in life. People with the need for a reasonably unhorrible keyboarding experience know enough to be thoroughly enamored with the old IBM M-series keyboards and similar mechanical switch keyboards of yore (I have four of the things, including old Dell and Fujitsu spring-switch keyboards and at least one lever-switch keyboard, though sadly none of them are the actual IBM models), which often auction for more than the price of Das Keyboard. Despite the competitive price, Das Keyboard looks to be an even better typing experience.

You go ahead and use six dollar membrane-switch crap if you like. Calling these design features "gimmicks" is like calling the characteristics of a twin-turbo eight cylinder 24 valve DOHC 4.6L engine "gimmicks" as compared with the characteristics of a four cylinder four valve SOHC 1.2L engine.

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Well, EXCU-U-U-USE me!!!!

by btljooz In reply to Pardonez-moi?

I think you should take a look at my profile. That will explain to you my 'ignorance' you so succinctly exposed!

BTW: I'm still not all that impressed with all these newfangled gadgets manufacturers are adding to their products just so they can jack up the co$t of the things. Keyboards are only one item of my peeves. Don't EVEN get me started on Cell Phones!

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Normally, I'd agree.

by apotheon In reply to Well, EXCU-U-U-USE me!!!!

In general, keyboards and cellphones are both getting piles of ludicrous, useless bells and whistles piled onto them, and it annoys the heck out of me. Das Keyboard doesn't have a row of web browser buttons, a dedicated Windows Media Player button, and a row of LEDs you can have blinking in time with the sound from your media player. Its feature set, unlike those asinine "web-enabled" keyboards, is quite practical for the most part.

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a thought

by worm22 In reply to Why do we type this way?

Haven't read the comments and it's probably been said, but...

I doubt I could ever conver to Dvorak. Why? Because "Typing Taxi" taught me to use Qwerty. If it really is better for preventing CTS then I'm all for it ... BUT it should be phased in so that children now can learn it while us old f**ks can still use Qwerty. Really ... I already have CTS from typing, so why bother switching now? On the other hand ... while I don't have children, I'd rather my nephew (4 yrs old) not have to deal with the pain I deal with.

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