QWERTY versus Dvorak

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QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby zenten » Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:36 pm UTC

Dvorak users are delusional if they think their keyboard actually types faster. There's no evidence, and the fact that the top typists in the world tend to be Dvorak users can easily be explained by the myth itself, people who type fast want to type fast, and if they think that Dvorak will help them type faster (regardless of the actual evidence) they will.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby bigglesworth » Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:23 pm UTC

Maybe it's the fact that people learned to type at an ordinary speed on querty, and having to relearn the keyboard helped them to have a better technique.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby EvanED » Sat Dec 01, 2007 3:21 pm UTC

No clue. I know bigglesworth's statement applies to me (Dvorak = touch-typing, QWERTY = "advanced hunt-and-peck without much hunting").

I think it is way more comfortable, which is why I learned it (at the time, I had wrist issues), but that too is not a fair comparison. That said, I can touch-type while looking very slowly on Qwerty, and I must say, from what I observe there, I'm strongly guessing Dvorak pwns in that category.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby TomBot » Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:18 pm UTC

Well, I can type at about the same speed (70 wpm) in either, but I can see how Dvorak could be faster. (I learned to touch type QWERTY long before I tried Dvorak. I don't have a special keyboard, I just never looked at the keys for Dvorak.)

There are three main differences in Dvorak. First, the keys on the home row are used far more often. Second, due partially to the fact that all the vowels are on the left of the home row, you tend to alternate hands more. (An unfortunate effect of that: there are practically no words you can type with only your left hand.) Third, many common letter combinations are really easy - "th" is the second and first fingers on your right hand, for example.

So if you feel your typing is limited by the physical speed of your fingers, Dvorak would definitely be better, because of increased parallelism. For me, however, I think my speed is more limited by the rate at which my brain can send signals that won't be misinterpreted by my fingers. If I type too fast in either layout, I tend to get letters on different hands out of order or put spaces in the wrong place.

I also don't ever confuse them, so that's not a problem. It's a lot like learning a foreign language. "a" and "m" are the same on both layouts, so sometimes if you start typing with "am", you'll realize halfway through the sentence you did the wrong one. And you get used to always typing the same way on the same computer or in the same app. For a time I used Dvorak exclusively at home. Unfortunately, Windows totally sucks for this, because there's no way to switch layouts globally - if you set up multiple layouts, it's per-application.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby adlaiff6 » Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:42 pm UTC

It's not the speed, it's the feel (and the added security!). I _like_ alternating hands more often! Think of this every time you type the word "were".
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby RockoTDF » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:42 am UTC

I don't know if it really is any faster, but it sure as hell makes my joints hurt less!

Plus its fun to watch other people try to use it or just look at it.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby scowdich » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:52 am UTC

The main reason I use it is as a security measure. Even if someone, somehow, knows my passwords, I still have to type them in for them.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby btilly » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:51 am UTC

Many years ago I set out to learn Dvorak. When I got to about 40 wpm I ran across an article that pointed out that QWERTY typists who switched to Dvorak would take years to get back their old typing speed. That combined with the fact that every keyboard out there is QWERTY caused me to switch back to typing 60 wpm. I've never regretted it.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Maseiken » Sun Dec 02, 2007 12:15 pm UTC

I don't Touch-type or Hunt-and-peck.
I have honed my own style after playing, many, many games and doing very little typing for a long time. I call it "Using index fingers almost exclusively, and getting only slightly fewer WPM than your average touch-typist because I am processing information at the same speed as my typing"

Or "uifaeagosfwpmtyattbiapiatssamt"
Or "That typing that I do"
Or "Typing"

Also, I do it on a Qwerty... so, I vote for Qwerty I guess...
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby zenten » Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:32 pm UTC

scowdich wrote:The main reason I use it is as a security measure. Even if someone, somehow, knows my passwords, I still have to type them in for them.


I don't have a password for local logins on my desktop or my media station (my server does, but it's headless anyway). I figure if anyone has broken into my house being able to check my email or look at my porn is the least of my worries.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby EvanED » Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:20 pm UTC

btilly wrote:Many years ago I set out to learn Dvorak. When I got to about 40 wpm I ran across an article that pointed out that QWERTY typists who switched to Dvorak would take years to get back their old typing speed. That combined with the fact that every keyboard out there is QWERTY caused me to switch back to typing 60 wpm. I've never regretted it.

Total, unmitigated BS. That figure is more like a month or two.

Not saying your decision was wrong, but the article was. ;-)

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby btilly » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:09 pm UTC

EvanED wrote:
btilly wrote:Many years ago I set out to learn Dvorak. When I got to about 40 wpm I ran across an article that pointed out that QWERTY typists who switched to Dvorak would take years to get back their old typing speed. That combined with the fact that every keyboard out there is QWERTY caused me to switch back to typing 60 wpm. I've never regretted it.

Total, unmitigated BS. That figure is more like a month or two.

Not saying your decision was wrong, but the article was. ;-)

My friend and I had already been typing Dvorak for about a month when he found the article. What it said fit our experience. Namely for a trained touch-typist, the time to get to the same point in Dvorak was very long. But since most people are not properly trained as touch typists on QWERTY, for them to get to the same point in Dvorak as they were in QWERTY is not that long because they are learning to type on Dvorak properly, and they never really learned QWERTY right.
Maseiken wrote:I don't Touch-type or Hunt-and-peck.
I have honed my own style after playing, many, many games and doing very little typing for a long time. I call it "Using index fingers almost exclusively, and getting only slightly fewer WPM than your average touch-typist because I am processing information at the same speed as my typing"

Or "uifaeagosfwpmtyattbiapiatssamt"
Or "That typing that I do"
Or "Typing"

Also, I do it on a Qwerty... so, I vote for Qwerty I guess...

There are a lot of programmers who type that way. Not coincidentally, a lot of them develop wrist problems.

Plus I'll note that the average person you see typing on a keyboard is not really a touch typist.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby b.i.o » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:56 pm UTC

I can touch type on QWERTY pretty quickly (I would guess 90-100 WPM). I may try Dvorak over winter break when I'm bored, but learning a new keyboard style and trying to write a paper at the same time don't go very well together.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby adlaiff6 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:16 pm UTC

I was at probably 60 WPM on QWERTY (yes, touch typing with proper form and all) when I started the switch, and after 3 months on Dvorak, I was at 70 WPM, with better-feeling joints. Just one humble bloke's experience.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Maseiken » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:43 pm UTC

btilly wrote:
Maseiken wrote:I don't Touch-type or Hunt-and-peck.
I have honed my own style after playing, many, many games and doing very little typing for a long time. I call it "Using index fingers almost exclusively, and getting only slightly fewer WPM than your average touch-typist because I am processing information at the same speed as my typing"

Or "uifaeagosfwpmtyattbiapiatssamt"
Or "That typing that I do"
Or "Typing"

Also, I do it on a Qwerty... so, I vote for Qwerty I guess...

There are a lot of programmers who type that way. Not coincidentally, a lot of them develop wrist problems.

Plus I'll note that the average person you see typing on a keyboard is not really a touch typist.

Well luckily the only extended periods I type for are when I'm writing something or other, so I'm usually OK on that front.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby JamesCFraser » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:47 am UTC

zenten wrote:Dvorak users are delusional if they think their keyboard actually types faster. There's no evidence, and the fact that the top typists in the world tend to be Dvorak users can easily be explained by the myth itself, people who type fast want to type fast, and if they think that Dvorak will help them type faster (regardless of the actual evidence) they will.


I use Dvorak. My reason for doing so is that it has been designed to reduce the risk of RSI. I can't see any logical reason for choosing QWERTY over Dvorak, as QWERTY has not been carefully considered in the way that Dvorak has. I don't think the idea is about faster typing, as I imagine that is much more down to the amount of time the individual user is prepared to set aside learning to type, as opposed to the keyboard layout.

One argument I can see for using QWERTY is experience with QWERTY. However, I recently began to learn to touch type, and, so, took the opportunity to switch to Dvorak.

I don't believe your logic of explaining fast Dvorak typists as being due to Dvorak having a placebo like effect is necessarily true, though. As the idea is a lessened average amount of finger movement, or easier movement, then there may be something significant in it at higher typing speeds. If I liken it to playing guitar (something I do have experience in), it is easier to play quickly in one position than it is to play quickly and change positions.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Pobega » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:56 am UTC

I prefer Dvorak to Qwerty, but my main reason for not using it is because I'm so used to the keybindings in my programs on Qwerty; I use [h,j,k,l] religiously in almost all of my programs (I have [h,j,k,l] binded in Mutt, Snownews, Vim, w3m). It's also hardcoded into programs like more/less, among many others. I'd have trouble getting used to new keybindings.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Sawta » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:35 pm UTC

I prefer Dvorak to QWERTY mainly because I just find it to be a much "calmer" way of typing. I really like the feel of the home row taking care of most of my typing needs. I can easily out type my friends when I'm on Instant Messenger.

I'm no *great* typist, but I can do around 30 WPM after using Dvoark for 3 months Vs 45 (or so) on QWERTY (Which I had been using for about 6 years..It'd be so much higher if I didn't constantly make spelling errors). The only professional typing class I've had was my freshman year of high school which used QWERTY.

The only grudge that I harbor against QWERTY is that I've been doing so much homework for my Java class inside of school on QWERTY keyboards that I've found it to be much harder to use the correct keys at home on a Dvorak keyboard, as the layout is slightly different for the bracket keys as well as the equal sign.

On a some what un-related note, I have been wondering if there is a keyboard layout geared specifically at coders, and if so: how hard is the adjustment? Would be interesting to try out, at the very least.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby ++$_ » Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:23 pm UTC

I like QWERTY. I just tested my WPM and got 98 words with three errors. (According to official "WPM" calculation rules, though a "word" is 5 characters, so I actually got 101 WPM.) Perhaps I could get that fast with Dvorak, but I doubt that I could get any faster, so it's hardly worth switching. Especially as most of the time, I'm not copying existing material, so I'm not limited by my typing speed but by my thinking speed.

Here's what I typed out, by the way (starting from the top of page 85): Link

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Cheese » Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:32 pm UTC

adlaiff6 wrote:It's not the speed, it's the feel (and the added security!). I _like_ alternating hands more often! Think of this every time you type the word "were".
I quite enjoy typing things like 'were', 'poi' and 'tree', as they allow me to take a quick sip of whatever drink is nearby, or eat some of my mandatory computer pizza.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby wing » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:26 pm UTC

Sawta wrote:On a some what un-related note, I have been wondering if there is a keyboard layout geared specifically at coders, and if so: how hard is the adjustment? Would be interesting to try out, at the very least.

There's a Dvorak for Programmers varient. It basically nukes the top-row number keys (USE YOUR FRAGGING NUMPAD) and substitutes in all the bracketry and operators so that you don't use the shift key for any of them. The numbers are then moved up to the shift point on the top row keys, if you're really useless or don't have a numpad. It's not very common because you can't rearrange your keycaps into that layout, but it's actually, apparently, pretty fucking nice.

I've considered doing it, and I just might.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby tiny » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:51 pm UTC

I learned to touch-type on a QWERTY-keyboard (because the two-finger-eagle-search-system - as it's called over here - is just tooo slow), and I type average speed, about 60 words per minute (with corrections, I can't stop correcting o.o).
I thought about switching to Dvorak because I enjoy typing as fast as I can, and if Dvorak could help me become faster... I just don't have the time to practice, so I keep putting it off.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby btilly » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:09 am UTC

Anyone in this thread who is interested in more esoteric keyboards might want to look into chorded keyboards. Court stenographer's use a specialized chorded keyboard and a phonetic alphabet. To become certified they must demonstrate sustained typing at 225 words per minute. They have been known to exceed 300 words per minute. This is substantially faster than any typist on a QWERTY or Dvorak keyboard.

Research has been done into using regular chorded keyboards as an alternative to a regular keyboard for computer input. To the best of my knowledge, research is inconclusive, but there are people who believe that chorded keyboards are faster. However chorded keyboards win big time for people who want to type with one hand, or who want to take up less desk space. They do, however, take considerably more retraining than Dvorak. And to use one you need to buy special hardware rather than just applying a key remapping to your regular keyboard.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Jach » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:51 am UTC

I tried Dvorak about two weeks in the summer before school started again. I pretty much memorized the board in a day or two, but building up the speed was a pain. I think I got around 20wpm before I decided "screw it" and went back to my 100wpm QWERTY. But I think I'm going to try and learn Dvorak again over Christmas break.

I think reason enough to go to Dvorak is because they developed QWERTY to make typing harder. =P Dvorak has a layout that makes sense.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby JayDee » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:57 am UTC

Imagine how much worse it could be if the effort to make typing had been successful!

Actually, while I have no real reason to doubt that story about the origins of QWERTY, are there pre-QWERTY keyboards out there? From before they realised that people were mangling their typewriters by typing too fast?

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby zenten » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:29 am UTC

Jach wrote:I think reason enough to go to Dvorak is because they developed QWERTY to make typing harder. =P Dvorak has a layout that makes sense.


[citation needed]

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Hammer » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:34 am UTC

zenten wrote:
Jach wrote:I think reason enough to go to Dvorak is because they developed QWERTY to make typing harder. =P Dvorak has a layout that makes sense.

[citation needed]

This story is cited in many places. As one might expect, it is also contested in many places.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby ++$_ » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:43 am UTC

Hammer wrote:
zenten wrote:
Jach wrote:I think reason enough to go to Dvorak is because they developed QWERTY to make typing harder. =P Dvorak has a layout that makes sense.

[citation needed]

This story is cited in many places. As one might expect, it is also contested in many places.
Wikipedia gives two versions (one source for each; neither seems reliable authoritative to me):

Version 1: QWERTY keyboards were designed to slow down typists so their typewriters wouldn't jam
Version 2: QWERTY keyboards were designed to stop typewriters from jamming, allowing typists to speed up.

You will no doubt have noticed that the first is the one Dvorak users prefer. I think the second is much more likely, though, as that's the better design plan.

EDIT: Fix confusing use of "reliable"

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby EvanED » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:48 am UTC

I find the most compelling design "principle" behind the QWERTY keyboard the fact that "typewriter" can be typed entirely using keys in the top row.

I don't know what that actually means.

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Honfclibur » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:03 am UTC

Today I just started to try using Dvorak, and I can already feel that my hands are a lot less strained in a way... Dvorak feels more naturally even if it's not necessarily faster and from what I"m feeling actually will help reduce carpal tunnel and such.
However I also found the Colemak layout in my searches... Any opinions on that?

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby btilly » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:12 am UTC

Jach wrote:I think reason enough to go to Dvorak is because they developed QWERTY to make typing harder. =P Dvorak has a layout that makes sense.

Yes, I know that is the popular legend. Unfortunately the legend massively overstates the facts.

http://home.earthlink.net/~dcrehr/whyqwert.html is a short article matches the explanations that I've read in the past from the best researched references. QWERTY was designed to avoid jams. Boo.. Hiss. But the design caused pairs of typebars that need to be typed close together in time to be physically separated. Which means that when you're typing, you're usually moving from finger to finger. So each finger can be moving to be ready after the previous one has hit. And this characteristic turns out to be good for typing fast. Sure, the fingers move farther than they need to, but the main limit seems to be our ability to mentally inform the fingers of where they need to be, and not their ability to physically move.

It is also worth pointing out that QWERTY was not the only keyboard that was tried on early typewriters. There were a number of them from different manufacturers, some of which gained some traction. And there were a whole series of typing competitions between different manufacturers. QWERTY won those fairly consistently. (See my above comments for why the design is reasonably fast to see why.)

If you want more detail, see http://www.st.ewi.tudelft.nl/~buzing/Ar ... boards.pdf. You'll also find from that that the speed benefits of Dvorak are probably real, but is in the order of 4-5%. Dvorak significantly reduces stress on your fingers - nobody doubts that. Research on whether it is worthwhile to switch is inconclusive. For me the speed improvements are not worth the inconvenience, and I do not have problems with tendonitis. Your mileage may vary.

EvanED wrote:I find the most compelling design "principle" behind the QWERTY keyboard the fact that "typewriter" can be typed entirely using keys in the top row.

I don't know what that actually means.

Evidence suggests that this is a coincidence.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby the_moose » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:31 am UTC

JayDee wrote:Imagine how much worse it could be if the effort to make typing had been successful!

Actually, while I have no real reason to doubt that story about the origins of QWERTY, are there pre-QWERTY keyboards out there? From before they realised that people were mangling their typewriters by typing too fast?

According to this, it was alphabetical.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Maseiken » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:51 am UTC

Yep, but the combination of RST, is quite killer.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Xeio » Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:54 am UTC

I'm kinda curious, I currently use QWERTY (you know, I almost forgot how to spell that...), but how would one go about setting up a computer to be used in Dvorak, assuming you don't have a specialized keyboard? I'd like to try it assuming its possible (might not be, considering the laptop's keyboard is built-in) without much work (well, non- learning the new way work). Obviously I can switch the keys places to help make learning easier, but that doesn't change what the keyboard sees as typed. :wink:

EDIT: Ah found it, anyone else curious (on windows XP)...

Control Panel > Regional and Language Options > Language Tab > Click "Details" Button > Click Add > Select Keyboard Layout "United States - Dvorak"

Menu pops up (can be minimized to taskbar) that lets you switch between layouts (or through a selected keystroke).

EDIT2:
I have a bad feeling I'm going to end up locking myself out of my computer accidentally when I forget to switch it off... *writes down windows password in Dvorak just in case*

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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby wing » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:21 am UTC

ARGH. I started a little bit of dvorak conversion today. I think I managed about 10wpm :P

Also, EXTREME WRIST PAIN. I assume it's just because I've developed a typing position that places my hands kind of diagonally across the keyboard so that they cover the heavily used areas of QWERTY (the beast has its weaknesses, if you care to find them) and dvorak is making me recenter them on the home row.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby adlaiff6 » Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:33 pm UTC

HERE's a question...

Anyone out there tried one of the one-handed Dvoraks? I tried learning left-hand a while ago and gave up because I didn't use it enough.
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Nimz » Sat Dec 29, 2007 2:28 pm UTC

This school break I decided to try Dvorak after 12+ years of QWERTY to see if I could learn Dvorak on my own. I've been using Dvorak almost exclusively (especially on these fora) for the last 1-2 weeks. I'm still nowhere near my QWERTY typing speed, but a lot of that is confidence (and doing a lot of typing when I'm tired). It has consistently and noticeably improved, though. Yesterday I was trying to type something on a QWERTY keyboard (just replace a letter, really) and I couldn't figure out for a moment why 'd' was appearing instead of 'e'. Once I mentally made the switch back to QWERTY I didn't have any real problems.

I am writing this from a Mac right now, and it has a nice little feature. Typing is Dvorak, but commands are QWERTY. This is very useful because if, for instance, j, k, and l are grouped commands on a certain application (e.g. rewind, play/pause, and fast forward), I don't have to use keys on opposite sides of the keyboard. They get automatically mapped to the h, t, and n keys. That kind of thing should interest someone like Pobega -
Pobega wrote:I prefer Dvorak to Qwerty, but my main reason for not using it is because I'm so used to the keybindings in my programs on Qwerty; I use [h,j,k,l] religiously in almost all of my programs (I have [h,j,k,l] binded in Mutt, Snownews, Vim, w3m). It's also hardcoded into programs like more/less, among many others. I'd have trouble getting used to new keybindings.


My QWERTY and Dvorak typing postures are essentially the same - fingers resting on aoeu and snth (asdf and ;lkj for QWERTY). One thing has bugged me about typing with Dvorak more so than with QWERTY. The base of my right pinky gets sore more now. That's probably explicable by my more frequent hitting of the backspace button. Hopefully that is a transient effect.
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qbg
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby qbg » Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:09 pm UTC

I switched to Dvorak about 2&1/2 years ago. I'm around the speed that I had with QWERTY, though I haven't had much chance to improve my speed more because I'm limited by how fast I can think. I'm able to use shortcut keys with Dvorak even though I've not moved the keys on my keyboard. The only real downside to switching to Dvorak for me is that because I almost never use QWERTY anymore, I've slowed down a lot with it.

Also, I don't think may Dvorak users claim that using Dvorak makes their keyboard faster...

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Axman
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Axman » Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:02 pm UTC

QWERTY was NOT designed to slow down typists, it was designed to arrange the hammers that were struck nearly simultaneously from interfering with each other. Much of the Dvorak speed research was done by Dvorak himself, and to this day, in typing competitions, the fastest typists opt to use QWERTY almost exclusively. (My mom used to do typing competition stuff. In an interesting aside, when she took dictation, she couldn't use word processors because the polling speed of the key strokes was slower than what she could type normally on mechanical or electrical typewriters.) I don't doubt that much of this is familiarity and experience with QWERTY, but I can't help but think that it's success is related to actual superiority.

In many regards this is an ideal example. The dimensions of performance are few, and in these dimensions the Dvorak keyboard appears to be overwhelmingly superior. The failure to choose the Dvorak keyboard certainly seems to demonstrate that something is amiss. On top of all that, it's a charming tale that is easy to tell, and the moral seems easy to find.

Unfortunately, what is amiss here is not the market choice, but the tale itself. The standard telling of this story turns out to be false in almost every important respect.

...

The vitality of markets is that they allow competing alternatives to demonstrate their capabilities. The primary players in this drama are entrepreneurs, a group largely missing from the economic theories that claim to establish the potential for this new kind of market failure. These game-theory models limit firms to an artificially narrow choice of actions, while actual entrepreneurs look for ways to overcome supposed "lock-in." In theory, for instance, there's no such thing as a training course. Entrepreneurs, as we have argued in other writings, are the ones who will bring about the demise of an inefficient standard. Producers of alternative keyboards were motivated to cash in on the success allowed in a market-based economy. That they failed suggests that the non-QWERTY arrangements held no real advantage.

The QWERTY keyboard cannot be said to constitute evidence of any systematic tendency for markets to err. Very simply, no competing keyboard has offered enough advantage to warrant a change. The story of Dvorak's superiority is a myth or, perhaps more properly, a hoax.

In April 1990, we published a more detailed version of this material in a Journal of Law and Economics article titled "The Fable of the Keys." This journal is well known and has published some of the most influential articles in economics. In the six years since we published that article there has been no attempt to refute any of our factual claims, to discredit the GSA study, or to resurrect the Navy study. Unless some new evidence is produced to support a claim of QWERTY's inferiority to Dvorak, how can it even be said that there are two sides to a legitimate scientific disagreement over the keyboard?

Yet the QWERTY myth continues to be cited as if it were the truth. Krugman's book has a 1994 copyright. Frank and Cook's copyright is 1995. In a 1992 article in Industrial and Corporate Change, Paul David cites the QWERTY example, as do Michael Katz and Carl Shapiro in their Spring 1994 article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

In a 1995 article on chaos theory, Michael Schermer goes on at length about the need for examples of path dependence. With that, he devotes an entire section, titled "The QWERTY Principle of History," to repeating the myth of Dvorak superiority. The Social Science Citation Index for 1994 shows a total of 28 citations to Paul David's 1985 American Economic Review article presenting the QWERTY myth (the very large majority of these are uncritical uses of the QWERTY story). And there is no sign of abatement. The Citation Index for the first two-thirds of 1995, which is all that is available as of this writing, shows 25 citations. If academics keep using a false example, authors of popular articles can hardly be held to higher standards of scholarship.

Apparently the theory of path dependence and lock-in to inferior technologies is in trouble without the QWERTY example. Apparently the cost of giving up this example is greater than the discomfort associated with its illegitimate use. Apparently the typewriter example is of such importance to many writers because it can so easily persuade people that an interventionist technology policy is necessary. How else to explain its continued use in this literature? Since an interventionist technology policy is no more likely to benefit consumers than are the myriad other government interventions in the market, we should not be surprised that good examples are largely fictional.


http://www.reason.com/news/show/29944.html

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Nimz
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Re: QWERTY versus Dvorak

Postby Nimz » Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:34 pm UTC

I read the article. Wow. Apparently, had I wanted to learn Dvorak for the usual reasons - speed and comfort - then my decision would not have been a very good one. Fortunately, my reasons were mainly curiosity. How quickly can I memorise the Dvorak layout without any training? About 2 hours. How long before I can type it at a reasonable (not good, necessarily, just reasonable) speed? About 2 weeks. Side-effects? Too early to tell.

I suppose using the "QWERTY myth" vs. the facts instead of QWERTY vs. Dvorak would be a better example of lock-in behaviour. Ten years after that article and the QWERTY myth is still going strong. Since the factual analysis came on the scene after the myth, free-economic forces have locked us into a situation where the factual analysis cannot overcome the nearly insurmountable disadvantage of being second.

In case it wasn't clear, that was intended as a parody.

edit: fixed spelling - how did a spelling error get into one of my posts in the first place?

~dunno. Don't use red pen though.
Last edited by Nimz on Thu Jan 03, 2008 12:52 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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