Typing with thumbs: is QWERTY’s time up?

medium_5263791953It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about how QWERTY thankfully was stamping out the awful text speak that previous incarnations of cellphones etc. had spewed up into our society, replacing those nauseous disasters with nice little QWERTY keyboard impressions we can use instead.

This neatly, so I thought, allowed even the trendiest of young people to write proper words and sentences rather than a poor relation of abbreviated Pig Latin that made Morse Code look simple to understand.

So what do the boffins come up with now? Typing with your thumbs. Because these bijou little QWERTY screens on phones, phablets, tablets, etc. are too  bijou for fat-fingered customers to use without splatting incomprehensible garbage, largely due to the fact that they usually strike QWE and RTY with a fingertip each.

Shock, horror: what is the world coming to?

If I’m honest I should welcome this change for purely physiological reasons, because my fingertips are far from slender – especially those on one side since surgery brought about lymphedema that makes my fingers on the left hand look like giant Brätwurst.

But OMG … does this mean that old fart writers (well, wrong side of 50) like moi  must learn a whole new technique? According to John Pavlus for MIT Technology Review writing on Mashable.com

“The result? A 34% boost in typing speed. The catch? It’ll take four to eight hours of training to be able to use it at a level of fluency equivalent to a standard QWERTY keyboard, and more hours to get faster.”

Four to eight hours? Are you crazy?

When I learned to touch type using a QWERTY keyboard I was 16 years old, attending night school over and above my daytime school, and it took me somewhere between four to six weeks  to learn to touch type. Plus a few.

Let’s not get this wrong. I wasn’t stupid; although I came from a culture and generation where families didn’t believe in educating girls, I did eventually graduate from high school, go to college, get some qualifications and become a member of British MENSA.

So what’s my point?

Four to six hours to shift the QWERTY mindset that has been fossilizing in brains like mine for several decades? Are you nuts?

It took me weeks to wean myself off my old cellphone with those pesky tap-tap-tap buttons for texting/SMS, rather than my dinky smartphone that now allows me to conduct all my eBusiness while trapped in a traffic jam, cleaning up the dog poop in my back yard, enthroned in the bathroom, etc.

OK, I’m a) over 50 and b) a card-carrying technophobe. But I shudder to think how the manufacturers of these new thumbs-up keyboards plan to re-educate however many squillions of cellphone, tablet, and other glassy-topped incarnation users they need to convert to make a success of this.

All the same, the promoters are optimistic

John Pavlus for MIT Technology Review writing on Mashable.com again …

“Considering how much typing on a glass touchscreen blows in comparison to using hard keys, it’s easy to imagine how Blackberry saw the first iPhone back in 2007 and thought, ‘Bah, this isn’t a threat.’ We all know how that turned out.”

“But typing on glass still blows, and voice dictation on mobile devices (while pretty awesome) isn’t a good fit for every situation. So how can we un-blowify touchscreen typing? Two interesting software-design approaches have recently emerged: one rethinks how the keyboard looks, while the other rethinks how the keyboard acts. “

Ssshhhh, don’t say anything, but…

Despite being a boring old fart (see above), I reckon these developments have a fab future. And if someone drags me, kicking and screaming, into learning how they work – I’ll be up for it.

After all, QWERTY has been doing us proud since the 19th century, so maybe it’s time we moved on.

Have a look at John Pavlus’ article in full – it’s fascinating.

What do you think? Would you find a thumbs-led keyboard easier and more practical to use? Please share your views here … I think this is going to become a hot topic…!

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family – from just $2.50 (less than £2.00!)

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QWERTY murderer strikes: RIP Txt-Spk

QWERTY murderer strikes: RIP Text-SpeakIt is with much regret that we announce the violent death of Text-Speak, by the introduction of QWERTY keypads in this new, cruel and heartless generation of mobile communications.

That endearing, abbreviated form of written communication necessitated by the previous generations of cellphones has passed away to the great cybernet in the sky.

Txt-Spk, as it was affectionately known, grew out of earlier phones’ requirement to press a number button umpteen times in order to put up a letter.

That, combined with the ludicrous anticipatory text facility devised by the gnomes of Silicon Valley, obliged anyone with a brain to cut back on all but vital letters and numbers in text (SMS) messages.

O, how weel mss U!

It’s so sad to think that these curt, abbreviated abortions of the English (and other) languages are never to be seen again, purely because more recent gnomes in Silicon Valley and elsewhere have come up with smartphones that allow users to type whole messages in full, quickly, using QWERTY keyboards.

What a sad day for the burgeoning creativity that Txt-Spk spawned! Where can we go now to find all those imaginative, squeezed derivatives of common words and phrases that became such an important part of our lives?

Think ROFL … ROFLMAO … PMSL … LOL … PLZ … TIA … l8tr … CU … and hundreds more.
All confined to the garbage can of internet history.

Y? O Y?

Freedom! Liberation from the strictures of Txt-Spk, thanks to the evolution of these QWERTY keyboard options on smartphones! Or so you might think at least. But this may not necessarily be the case.

We spoke to (well, texted, actually) 17-year-old Wayne Grunt, a former Txt-Spk expert from Croydon, England, who has now moved up to an IPhone. What was his reaction to his new freedom to write easily, in full?

“FFS,” Wayne lamented, “ I cnt fckn spll so how d-fck cn I xprss mslf wit al dese lttrs to Uz?”

His girlfriend Chardonnay Slutte, also 17 and from Croydon, responded: “Ma GFs an me h8s doz lttrs. Y dz we nEds 2 wryt prprly? U gotta B tkn D pss.”

QWERTY: the merciless killer

Well, QWERTY, you have managed to infiltrate the entire domain of mobile communications now due to your keyboards’ incorporation into near-as-dammit every mobile device currently on the market.

Have you no shame?

Do you wish to annihilate Txt-Spk forever?

Because if that is the case, we are going to experience an even more ridiculous b*ggeration of the English language than Txt-Spk could even have dreamt of. How can you be so cruel as to expect users to learn how to spell, for Heaven’s sake?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

QWERTY murderer strikes: RIP Text-SpeakThere aren’t many advantages to being on the wrong side of 50, but there is one : we learned touch-typing on typewriters.

Back in those dim dark ages of the 1970s, typewriters used almost exactly the same QWERTY keyboards modern mobile devices use now.

While newbies pick at the modern QWERTY keyboard looking for the letters, we old goats are in our element.

Revenge is sweet…

Now, let’s put some life into your writing…

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“How To Write Winning Non-fiction”…all you need to know to write a good non-fiction book and get it published


photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: Eric Fischer via photopin cc