niamu

Brendon Walsh
The Dvorak Experiment

The Dvorak Experiment

2007-12-22

Every now and then, I do something so incredibly geeky that I amaze even myself. Whether it be memorizing an extensively long password in all non-standard characters, or learning binary and hexadecimal conversions. Well, it's time to chalk up another to the list of ridiculous feats and experimentations and wave goodbye to the Qwerty layout. Hello Dvorak.

Now, Allow me to spare you the entirety of the history lesson involved in understanding why our keyboards are the way they are and get right down to what you actually need to know...

Though the explanations as to why the Qwerty layout was actually defined as a standard have never been officially confirmed, the most credible and widely accepted reason is it was designed specifically so that the typewriter's typebars would not wedge against one another causing jams. This was done at the expense of speed for many typists. And now here we are well over a hundred years later since the first introduction of the Qwerty layout with modern technology and still using - debatably - an inefficient layout that many have tried to improve upon over the years.

So why hasn't the Dvorak layout been adopted as a superior layout then? Well, despite the numerous arguments that still claim Qwerty is just as efficient as anything else, it is the opinion of this user that the Dvorak layout remains largely unused for the simple reason that people do not like change.

This realization for me was one that I found to be particularly ironic and interesting. The word of technology is defined by change. Devices get continually smaller and faster. And yet it seems that the only things that have remained unchanged are our forms of input and interface with the computer such as the keyboard and the mouse. Well, I don't want to be one to cling to such old concepts of data input. I want to remain open to new ideas (or 72 year old ideas as it were).

So with that, I'm announcing my venture into what I'm calling "The Dvorak Experiment." I've taken apart every keyboard I own and rearranged the keys to satisfy the Dvorak layout. They will remain this way until the end of the school year at the very least. My hope is that this change will not only increase my typing skills over time by being ambiguous to both the Qwerty and Dvorak layout, but perhaps inspire me as well to conjure up new concepts of data input and be open to those proposed by others.

My commendations to Microsoft and Apple for taking the first steps on the matter with Microsoft Surface and the iPhone/iPod Touch respectively. But we still need to evolve past this notion of a keyboard and really invent something new to match our modern technologies of today.

Now if only I could figure out a way to reprogram my iPhone's keyboard...