The Business-Technology Weave

Dec 19 2010   2:09PM GMT

QWERTY keyboard vs. Dvorak keyboard

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


I just happened to stumble into an interesting debate (again) through a chance circumstance.  I was dining with a couple of handsome ladies and one of their sons had an Asus Netbook with a Dvorak keyboard.


For the uninitiated, the Dvorak keyboard is an entirely different layout than a standard keyboard, with keys situated and labeled in an unfamiliar pattern for the overwhelming majority of people with standard QWERTY devices.  (The QWERTY name derives from the letters just above the “home” row of the left hand, reading left-to-right). 


The Dvorak board supposedly makes more efficient use of finger motion by grouping the most commonly used (typed) letters together.  Thus, there is supposed to be less wasted motion and  a benefit in reducing or eliminating chance of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Hmmm…


I’m an experienced typist of more years than I care to remember – in certain overseas locations, I even banged out more than a few reports on manual typewriters way back in my dim past.  In my years of communicating via sticks on logs, smoke, drums, typing on mechanical machines, various consoles, IBM Selectrics, desktops and laptops, I’ve noticed one thing for certain:  I’m fortunate in that I type as fast as I think.  (Insert jokes here).


I’ve never felt any particular discomfort when typing; even for long periods.  However, I’m all for optimization and efficiency.  A simple software is available for switching from QWERTY to Dvorak – and back – should anyone be interested.  The fellow who had his Dvorak Netbook said it took about a month to learn Dvorak.  Further, he said it took about 20 minutes to become optimal if switching back to QWERTY.


We then got into a discussion of keyboards with keys having tiny LCD screens on top of them:  In this case, you can assign a letter, function symbol, or picture to the key – and make changes any time you wish.  Easy enough, then, to re-label from QWERTY to Dvorak, among other things.


However, in the case of simple keyboard layout swaps, I recommend something quite simple and totally reliable:  Lenticular optics.


Remember those pictures that changed as you tilted them?  Holding a lenticular picture at one angle might show a tiger, for example – when tilting slightly in the other direction, the picture might change to a lion.  It would be easy enough to use lenticular optics to toggle keyboard labeling between two systems.  On a laptop or Netbook, one could simply raise or lower back risers to effect the change if the optics were horizontal.  Or, a vertical optics could be employed, and simply sliding the device’s position a few inches left or right could effect the change.


At any rate, I am fortunate and glad that I do not have carpal tunnel syndrome, and that I don’t think (or generate original content) any faster than I do.  My typing seems quite efficient as matched to the flow of my thoughts…


…and I fault all mistakes in grammar and spelling errors to my software.



NP:  This is the Moody Blues, double-LP, vinyl.

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