Touch-Typing, a Relic of Keyboard Design?

By Xah Lee. Date: .

1, over 10+ years keyboarding geeking, now i think the number 1 big question is, do you touch type or not?

2, keyboard design, typing habit, shortcut choice, all have fundamental tie to whether you touch type.

3, it's tricky, cuz not touchtype is sorta a stigma. People do not disclose it readily in discussion, making the whole discussion difficult.

4, most people, do not touch type. Including among programers.

5, for non-touch-typers, ergonomic/split keyboard don't benefit you much. (but mechanical keys are still important)

6, today, there are many fancy split keyboards, and tons of DIY creativity too. Yet, many are still non-split.

7 when discussing keyboard design, shortcut choice, how to press keys, i realized, the 1st Q to ask is, do you touch-type or not?

8, you can't force the non-touch-typer to do so, cuz, actually, non-touch-type is the way to go. Require learning is a tech by-product.

9, so we have the situation: the many new split keyboards r progress, yet, not really, cuz they held the idea of required learning touch type.

the problem isn't easy to solve. For normal people, who don't type much anyway, all keys together is convenient. They don't have a problem. Split keyboard is actually inconvenient. For computer professionals, programers, writers etc, you do want split keyboard. It is in fact critical to avoid hand injury.

So, for programers writers etc, there's a ugly transition. At some point, some will use split keyboard and possibly learn touch type. This transition is ugly because it happens after a person has been typing for some years, and happens to some people only. There's no incentive for all keyboard makers to hop onto split keyboard as a standard, since for vast majority of people, split keyboard offers no benefit.

in my progressive utopia mind, seeing so many new innovative ergonomic keyboards coming out, i thought, the time has finally came that all keyboard might be split keyboard from now on.

but, i find it annoying to see lots new nerdy DIY keyboard that's non-split and badly designed, such as Planck Keyboard

after thinking about why, realized that majority of people who find such keyboard appealing, really are just non-touch-typers.

and realized, touch-typing can be considered as a relic that came from typewriter design as human-machine interface.

and there's no simple answer on this split or non-split problem.

until some kinda hand-waving-voice-AI-virtua-reality-interface becomes the norm, keyboard of some kind is still the most practical for input for writing. So, if you don't type that much, non-split is fine, else, split and learn touch-type.

See also: Is Keyboard Tenting Important?

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