OT: keyboard layouts

Henry Spencer henry-lqW1N6Cllo0sV2N9l4h3zg at public.gmane.org
Fri Dec 12 18:06:46 UTC 2003

On Fri, 12 Dec 2003, JoeHill wrote:
> > I can type about 10WPM on a Dvorak layout (vs >70 on a qwerty), so I
> > haven't exactly switched over myself...
> Isn't Dvorak supposed to speed up typing?

It is *supposed* to, but no systematic test conducted by an unbiased
experimenter has ever found more than a 5-10% improvement.  (And you can
get that sort of improvement with a Qwerty layout just by remapping the
Return/Enter key to something you can hit without moving your hand off the
home position.)

All the claims of spectacular improvements seem to derive from trials run
by Dvorak himself.  Nobody has ever been able to reproduce those results.

Beware of placebo effect.  *Expecting* that typing on a Dvorak layout will
feel better has a strong tendency to *make* it feel better.

> I mean as opposed to qwerty, which was
> originally intended to make typing slower, preventing fast typists from
> outpacing the old typewriters. 

Nope, this is a myth.  The early typewriters did have problems with
jamming with fast typists, yes, but only if *adjacent keys* were hit in
fast succession.  The Qwerty layout was designed to put frequently-used
keys far apart, to reduce jamming at high speed.  It turns out that this
actually *speeds up* typists, because it increases the probability that
successive keys will alternate between hands. 

                                                          Henry Spencer
                                                       henry-lqW1N6Cllo0sV2N9l4h3zg at public.gmane.org

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