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A better way to type…

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Humans have been trying to invent a better way to type since the dawn of the typewriter. Four-finger, eight-finger, and, now, roll-over… According to BBC News a method employed by gamers — pressing a subsequent key before releasing another — will dramatically increase your typing speed (see article here). But experts question whether the method is worth learning. Likely, your “fast” fast enough.

Over the years I’ve watched my students type in many ways: hunt-and-peck, touch-touching (looking or not), one-finger, two-finger, etc. Certainly, how you type impacts how you think/communicate. When I was ready to begin my (short) career as a journalist, I consciously set out to learn touch typing. I wanted my ideas and words to flow unimpeded, and I mastered the art in one or two months.

One of my colleagues, who served as a typist in the Navy, can type and talk at the same time. It is an astonishing thing to view. I can do it briefly. (Generally, I’m finishing a thought that I intend to type while beginning a conversation — sometimes I’m just ignoring you, tossing in an “uh, huh” or “yeah” intermittently.)

Questions over the QWERTY arrangement persist, but nearly any arrangement will serve once it has been learned. The real question is if we can ever type as fast as we can think. How fast is a thought? And how are thoughts shaped by how we write? With a pen and paper, I can write all over the page, all over the text. On a typewriter, the thoughts flow in linier fashion. On a computer, backwards and forward (“backspace deletes”). Each thought is shaped by the process.

There is some speculation that voice-to-text will ultimately replace typing (the BBC News article posits 2022), and that is likely. Already, we use voice dictation for text messages (my colleagues exchange entire essays via text), and we navigate our “smart” homes via voice.

One day, perhaps, we will all be sitting in cafes talking to ourselves.

 

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • martha April 26, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Interesting. I do think that the way we put words down affects how we arrange them, and in turn the way our thoughts are arranged. I saw a documentary once which seemed to suggest that speech to text was inferior as a creative tool when we don’t read as we go along. I think it was in relation to whether it was worth learning braille if you are visually impaired. I have often heard writers say that they write to find out what they are thinking. I think it’s a continual two way, back and forth process of consideration and creation, so I don’t think speech to text will replace the act of writing. I sincerely hope not anyway!

  • Bill April 26, 2018, 11:10 pm

    I’ve heard of typing and talking. It is beyond me. Better yet is the Navy radio man who can listen to the Morse Code, type it, and be speaking with a fellow sailor.

    When we get thoughts to text that will be a real accomplishment.

  • Richard P April 27, 2018, 8:44 pm

    I agree with Martha. I personally don’t like talking to machines, and enjoy the act of writing (by hand or keyboard). It helps me think.

    Turning thoughts into text is a possibility that’s just around the corner, but again doesn’t appeal to me at all.

  • Richard P April 27, 2018, 8:46 pm

    On further thought … we already turn thoughts into text, with the intermediary of our hands. But the idea Bill brought up means, of course, that the hands and voice would no longer be necessary as intermediaries. That would be a great boon to certain disabled people, but otherwise it’s not attractive.

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