Monday, February 18, 2008

Technology continues to improve, but...

the keyboard still stays where it is.

Well, sort of.

You see all kinds of different keyboards such as multimedia keyboards, gaming keyboards, curved keyboards, split keyboards, foldable keyboards and so on.

But the most basic thing about the keyboard is the QWERTY layout. All the keyboards you find in your favorite computer store, no matter what special features it has, have this standard layout.

So what's wrong right about this standard keyboard?

The QWERTY layout was designed as a quick-fix to solve the jamming problem that occurred in a very early model of typewriters. It was designed in such a way so that the user of the typewriter will not press two adjacent keys one after the other, as this was the source of jamming problem.

However, the later model of typewriters, and computer keyboards, don't have this jamming problem anymore and pressing two adjacent keys will not jam anything (in the case of typewriter) or has nothing to jam (in the case of keyboard).

The only thing "right" about this layout is that it has become popular and got standardised. It is a practically random layout with no regard to ergonomics, comfort and repetitive strain injury. The keyboard requires large amounts of finger movement during extensive typing.

What's better than QWERTY?

The all-so-awesome Dvorak keyboard layout!

What's so awesome about this cool layout? It's ergonomically designed, with the objective of minimizing the finger movement of an English typist as much as possible. It greatly reduces the chance of repetitive strain injuries due to extended keyboard layout.

Mankind, as much as it likes to change, is also afraid of change. Unfortunately this fear means, the acceptance of Dvorak keyboard layout is very rare.

Many of my friends have seen me use the awesome Dvorak keyboard, but they criticize that it's so strange, troublesome, not easy to set up, and especially that they are unwilling to change. I end up having to set up my laptop with both QWERTY and Dvorak, switching between the two for the sake of my friends.

Likewise, people are unwilling to change due to them getting used to the randomly designed ergonomically damaging standard QWERTY. Consider it something like eating McDonald's everyday, even though I tell you that it's greasy and unhealthy food. You got so used to the junk food, that you're so not willing to switch to more healthy food. Resistance to changing to Dvorak is something like this. People got so used to the unhealthy junk layout that they are so not willing to change to healthy layout.

Well, in Dr. August Dvorak's own words, "I'm tired of trying to do something worthwhile for the human race. They simply don't want to change."

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