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QWERTY or DVORAK? Debunking the Keyboard Layout Myths -- from GeeCON 2018

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If you’re reading this summary on a computer, chances are there is a QWERTY keyboard on your desk. This keyboard layout has been around since 1873, and it has been widely adopted ever since. However, its popularity has always remained a mystery to me. Why is everyone using a keyboard layout that doesn’t look that efficient on first sight? I’m not the only one asking this question. A lot of myths exist on the QWERTY keyboard layout, including the one that it was specifically designed to slow down typists. In preparation for a switch to the DVORAK layout, I did some research and found out that a lot of these myths are riddled with factual errors. Also, I started learning DVORAK and kept track of my progress and what I thought were the pros and cons. So was QWERTY designed to slow us down? Is it feasible to adopt an alternative layout like DVORAK? If so, how long will it take you to learn it, and should everyone consider it? Join this session to have your questions answered, and feel free to bring your keyboard layout of choice. :-)

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QWERTY or DVORAK? Debunking the Keyboard Layout Myths -- from GeeCON 2018

  1. 1. QWERTYQWERTY oror DVORAK?DVORAK? Debunking the Keyboard Layout MythsDebunking the Keyboard Layout Myths Hanno EmbregtsHanno Embregts @hannotify
  2. 2. The Origin ofThe Origin ofThe Origin ofThe Origin ofThe Origin of QWERTYQWERTYQWERTYQWERTYQWERTY
  3. 3. -- An old keyboard-nerd joke-- An old keyboard-nerd joke ( ) "If alien archeologists landed on Earth a million years from now and tried to gure out what we looked like based on our keyboards, they'd probably gure that we had 10 tentacles coming out of our chests." https://shop.keyboard.io/
  4. 4. Ask theAsk theAsk theAsk theAsk the AudienceAudienceAudienceAudienceAudience
  5. 5. So how do *you* feelSo how do *you* feel about all this?about all this? Let's nd out!
  6. 6. Myth #1Myth #1Myth #1Myth #1Myth #1 Created to slow typists downCreated to slow typists downCreated to slow typists downCreated to slow typists downCreated to slow typists down
  7. 7. Created to slow typists down?Created to slow typists down? Questionable, as there were no fast typists at that time! The rst touch typist was Frank Edward McGurrin, who started developing his own touch typing method in 1881. Fun fact: McGurrin could type 97 words per minute. ( )https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Edward_McGurrin
  8. 8. Created to slow typists down?Created to slow typists down? Or to slow telegraph operators down? Again very unlikely. Morse senders were quite fast and almost constantly waiting for new input. At a typewriter demonstration in 1872, the morse receiver almost *begged* the operator to type faster. "Typewriting and Telegraphy", Densmore, 1886. ( )http://www.kanji.zinbun.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~yasuoka/QWERTY/
  9. 9. Myth #2Myth #2Myth #2Myth #2Myth #2 Created to prevent jams in earlyCreated to prevent jams in earlyCreated to prevent jams in earlyCreated to prevent jams in earlyCreated to prevent jams in early typewriterstypewriterstypewriterstypewriterstypewriters
  10. 10. Created to prevent jams?Created to prevent jams?
  11. 11. Frequently used digrams andFrequently used digrams and their distancestheir distances "On the Prehistory of QWERTY", Yasuoka & Yasuoka, 2009. https://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/139379/1/42_161.pdf
  12. 12. The story of E & RThe story of E & R
  13. 13. Type-Writer, February 1873Type-Writer, February 1873 (image via The World of Typewriters)(image via The World of Typewriters)
  14. 14. Myth #3Myth #3Myth #3Myth #3Myth #3 Created so that the word andCreated so that the word andCreated so that the word andCreated so that the word andCreated so that the word and brand name TYPEWRITER couldbrand name TYPEWRITER couldbrand name TYPEWRITER couldbrand name TYPEWRITER couldbrand name TYPEWRITER could be typed by using the top rowbe typed by using the top rowbe typed by using the top rowbe typed by using the top rowbe typed by using the top row onlyonlyonlyonlyonly
  15. 15. Created for the brand name?Created for the brand name? -- Paul David Allen-- Paul David Allen in "Understanding the Economics of QWERTY: the Necessity of History, Economic History and the Modern Economist", 1986 "(...) it has been suggested that the main advantage of putting the R into QWERTY was that it thereby gathered into one row all the letters which a salesman would need, to impress customers by rapidly pecking out the brand name: TYPE WRITER."
  16. 16. Created for the brand name?Created for the brand name? In May 1873, the brand name became "Sholes & Glidden Type-Writer". The R key moved to the top row, but the hyphen key didn't. "Sholes" or "Glidden" required multiple rows. Sales demonstrations were done by sending and receiving morse telegraph. "On the Prehistory of QWERTY", Yasuoka & Yasuoka, 2009. https://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/139379/1/42_161.pdf
  17. 17. So telegraph operatorsSo telegraph operatorsSo telegraph operatorsSo telegraph operatorsSo telegraph operators created QWERTYcreated QWERTYcreated QWERTYcreated QWERTYcreated QWERTY according to their ownaccording to their ownaccording to their ownaccording to their ownaccording to their own preferences?preferences?preferences?preferences?preferences?
  18. 18. Overview of changesOverview of changes Month Event Initiator Number of keys Comments November 1868 First Type-Writer shipped to customer Sholes (inventor) 28 Piano-like, alphabetical arrangement April 1870 Numerals & punctuation marks added Porter ( rst customer) 38 First keyboard-like design September 1870 QW on upper row, S between E & Z, .. Harrington & Craig (second customer) 42 For e ciency reasons February 1873 I between 8 & 9 Jenne, Clough (Remington) 42 To enable quick year typing April 1874 Y to center of top row Sholes (inventor) 42 Arrangement patented by Sholes "On the Prehistory of QWERTY", Yasuoka & Yasuoka, 2009. https://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/139379/1/42_161.pdf
  19. 19. Bonus MythBonus MythBonus MythBonus MythBonus Myth After mastering the DVORAKAfter mastering the DVORAKAfter mastering the DVORAKAfter mastering the DVORAKAfter mastering the DVORAK layout I will be a faster typistlayout I will be a faster typistlayout I will be a faster typistlayout I will be a faster typistlayout I will be a faster typist
  20. 20. (Dvorak words may sound hard to pronounce, but studies show they actually put less(Dvorak words may sound hard to pronounce, but studies show they actually put less stress on the vocal cords)stress on the vocal cords)
  21. 21. The Dvorak Simpli ed KeyboardThe Dvorak Simpli ed Keyboard Patented by Dr. August Dvorak in 1936. Invented to reduce nger motion and typing errors. Claims to increase typing speed. Well-supported on all major operating systems.
  22. 22. Keyboard strokes locationsKeyboard strokes locations (in English)(in English)   QWERTY DVORAK Top row 52% 22% Home row 32% 70% Bottom row 16% 8%
  23. 23. Keyboard strokes heat mapKeyboard strokes heat map ( )http://xahlee.info/kbd/myth_of_qwerty_dvorak_layout.html
  24. 24. The process of masteringThe process of mastering DvorakDvorak Start by memorizing the di erent locations. Practice until you can touch-type each letter. I used a LOT. Increase your typing speed. learn.dvorak.nl
  25. 25. Some challengesSome challenges Crafting a Dvorak keyboard (stickers, overlays) Punctuation, :-) o/ ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Bash commands (ls) Shortcuts (Ctrl+C becomes a two- nger shortcut) Typing the word "QWERTY" becomes a pain The awkward 30 second explanation if a coworker needs your computer.
  26. 26. SummarySummarySummarySummarySummary andandandandand ConclusionsConclusionsConclusionsConclusionsConclusions
  27. 27. On the QWERTY LayoutOn the QWERTY Layout Never intended to slow down typists. Not much evidence for solving the jamming problem. Layout was probably optimized for telegraph users.
  28. 28. On the DVORAK LayoutOn the DVORAK Layout Extensive use is less tiring than QWERTY. Reduces RSI. Mastering DVORAK will take a lot of time. But! You can't be sure that DVORAK will make you type any faster (at least not soon).
  29. 29. Should I Switch?Should I Switch? Only if...Only if... ...your ngers are killing you from time to time. ...you have a year to spare to crank up your DVORAK typing speed. ...it just feels wrong to use a layout that was optimized for a {profession|mechanical problem} that doesn't even exist any more.
  30. 30. AnyAnyAnyAnyAny questions?questions?questions?questions?questions?
  31. 31. Thank you! ☺Thank you! ☺ Just can't get enough?Just can't get enough? https://hannotify.github.io @hannotify hanno.embregts@infosupport.com

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