Saturday, January 12, 2008

Unlearn what you have learned

More than two years ago my cousin Eddy told me about a keyboard layout I had read of from time to time but never gave much credence to. It was called the Dvorak layout, and it was a way of typing that was, so he said, far easier than the standard keyboard on computers and typing implements. He suggested I learn it, which I tried to do, but never really stuck with it.

Most keyboards are called QWERTY keyboards because of what the first five letters in the top row spell. The layout is not based on anything very scientific, and one can see this by giving a keyboard even the most cursory examination. The home row, where your fingers rest (on the asdf and jkl; keys) contains one vowel. One. And a semicolon? When was the last time you typed a semicolon? Well, a guy named Dr. August Dvorak invented a keyboard layout in the 40s that is based on the most logical and efficient use of the keys. All the vowels are on the home row and can be typed with your left hand. All the most frequently-used consonants are also on the home row and can be typed with your right hand. Keys are placed in a way that creates the best use of your hands, and even puts often-used letters near the stronger fingers of the hands.

Only trouble is, it's hard to rewire the brain once it has learned a process, even if the new process is better.

Anyway, at work I literally popped the keys off my keyboard and rearranged them to be in the Dvorak layout. I am going full-force on this, trying to type in Dvorak as often as possible even though it is, right now, extremely slow. I'm optimistic, though, and by my birthday I hope to be typing as well in Dvorak as I can type in QWERTY. That's the goal, at least. :) And Eddy, if you read this, make sure to hold me accountable to it!


jessrings said...

This is weird but my friend Gina just married a Dvorak who's first name is Dave. I've never heard of that name before. Hmmmm. I don't think they're related to August though.

gb said...

i made the switch in 1997 and glad i did. as proof, i submit to you a webpage i made to spread the gospel of dvorak. (last update, 3 years ago).

it took about a month to get back my qwerty speed... it's not "rewiring" the brain as much as learning a second language. i can type with both, i just need to stop and figure out which one is appropriate for the keyboard i'm on.

don't look at the keys, it's a bad habit to get into... i printed a layout out and taped it to the bottom of my monitor. after a month i removed it.

good luck.... just throw yourself in cold turkey and you'll never go back....

here's an analogy of what qwerty fingers go through:
DVORAK: travel minneapolis to fargo via the direct root of i-94.
QWERTY: travel from minneapolis to fargo, stopping off briefly at Mexico City and then continuing on to Fargo.

good luck, email me any questions/frusterations.