LETTERS TO THE EDITORS
Our Flexible Age
To the Editors:
In “Keyboards, Codes and the Search for Optimality,” (September–October 2009) Robert Dorit presents an engaging account of the remarkable longevity of the QWERTY keyboard devised for typewriters and now used for computers. He attributes its longevity to the power of history, even though the arrangement of keys is not optimal. But I think the resistance to change might be weakened by the fact that a computer is much more versatile than a typewriter. For example, it is feasible to have all sorts of keyboard arrangements. A user can easily reprogram his or her computer to accept any key arrangement. It is possible, even probable, that one size fits all may not be the best solution.
A computer can recognize that more than one key has been pressed at the same time. By pressing two to ten keys simultaneously, the number of letters reachable with the fingers remaining on the same keys can be greatly increased. Computers already help us by guessing the rest of a word, by automatically capitalizing the first letter of a sentence, by spell-checking, etc. And voice recognition eliminates the necessity for typing altogether. Surely voice recognition is a better solution for cell phones than texting with the thumbs!
Still, I have to concede Dr. Dorit’s main thesis: The QWERTY keyboard is good enough. Proof is this letter.
Walnut Creek, CA