I’m sure that whoever invented today’s keyboard layout was a pretty smart guy. It seems to be in random order, but there must be some kind of logic behind it, right? And it must be something very complex.
Actually, I’m also sure that this person was on crack when he invented it.
Just take a look at your keyboard right now.
What is this nonsense? Can you get any more random? What possible reason could there be for a sane person to jumble up a perfectly fine alphabet into a string of letters that is in no comprehensible order and even fails to at least spell an entertaining word while it’s at it?
I was going to write a full post on this disgrace, then I realized I should probably look things up before I rant on them. So I did some quick research, and found out that… Wikipedia had a nice picture of a keyboard that I could use on this post. I also found out that there was, in fact, a fairly understandable reason for the inventor of QWERTY to lay out his keys in this way, which totally makes the original point of this post moot and forces me to change the topic temporarily, but this is not as relevant.
So. Uhm. I guess QWERTY is okay. It does have its uses, such as replacing T9 as my preferred method of texting. Me and T9… we never really got along that well. I didn’t have an unlimited text plan for two years after getting my first phone, so I never really needed to get acquainted with it. I wanted it to make it work out between us–I really did. Whenever I needed to put something on the calendar, or make a memo, or send the rare (and expensive) text, I’d be like “Hey T9, long time no see. Can you type up this really simple line of text for me real quick?” and then T9 would be all “F*%& YOU! Imma misspell EVERY SINGLE WORD!” and it would go ahead and misspell every single word I tried to type. If it was possible to develop intense loathing towards a method of text input, it might have happened to me. Since then, I’ve been using a QWERTY touchpad phone, and the fickleness of T9 is just a distant memory. The problem is that I have a similar relationship with touchscreen, but that’s a story for another time.
And I admit that it’s not all that complex or random compared to some other schemes. For example, the method of Korean typing that is used the most widely is called the 2-set method, and while it’s a little hard to learn, once you’re proficient it’s no big deal. But an alternate scheme called the 3-set method exists, and as far as I can tell, this method is more complex than college astrophysics. Imagine that you took the jumbled order of QWERTY and mixed it up a couple more times just for the heck of it, then started combining a few letters into one key, shuffled it a few more times, then combined punctuation marks and special characters with the now-doubled-up letters, made it so that you almost always have to type from the right side to the left just to complete one character (using the shift key the whole time), and then colored it all bright and pretty to try and feel a little bit better about the fact that you just murdered an entire language’s alphabet using only a keyboard. That’s what the 3-set keyboard is like.
But that still doesn’t excuse QWERTY from its many quirks and downsides. For one, you can’t tell me that I’m the only one that feels a little sillier every time I try to type the word and don’t realize until a few seconds later that it is, by definition, simply the first six letters of the keyboard. If I really am the only one, well, I take pride in representing the opinion of a minority. Of one.
Speaking of typing QWERTY, why is it just those six letters? Why can’t it be QWERTYUIOP? Or just QWER? Or even ZXCVB? I kind of like ZXCVB. Has a certain ring to it, which I like to call “the unpronounceable ring”. But nooooo, whoever coined the term just had to think firmly inside the box and pick the most reasonable name.
And arranging a keyboard in this order has one massive, critical weakness, enough to eclipse everything else I’ve mentioned so far: you cannot type the English alphabet in order as fast. “But wait,” you might ask. “Why is that so important?”
Well, dear reader. How many times, during your lifetime, will you find yourself in a situation where you have to type the English alphabet in order? Probably not very many. Maybe once or twice, if that. But consider this: how many times, during that same lifetime, will you find yourself in a situation where you have to type the QWERTY keyboard’s letters in order? I can bet you that it will be much, much less often than the first option. And from that, we can conclude that the QWERTY keyboard is counterproductive. I’ll be waiting for the brave soul that ventures out to create a new typing system to rid us from this menace to our alphabet-typing efficiency.
And hopefully, no drugs will be involved this time around.
While reading up on QWERTY on Wikipedia, I noticed that the article had been vandalized by a very shy individual. How do I know the person was shy? Well, let’s look.
I decided to leave it alone. The guy (girl?) gets points for trying.