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I have just switched to this layout and it is taking a bit of getting used to although it is supposed to be faster to type with. This was the default layout for typewriters was it not? I heard that they had to switch to Qwerty to slow down typists but it is doing that for me as well although the keys are actually pretty intelligently placed once you start typing with this layout. It grows on you like a mould.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard. More information here. Once you get used to the new layout it is very good to type with, the necessary keys are closer together and since this is said to be a faster way to type, I decided to give it a try. Pullimg out the keys and putting them back in was a heap of fun and gives me a chance to clean out the dirt under the keys. Is anyone else going to join me?
Good info here: http://doomtech.net/wiki/index.php/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard
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Dvorak was just a self-promoting charlatan, and his keyboard has no advantage whatsoever over the regular Qwerty layout. A 1990 paper in the Journal of Law & Economics called The Fable of the Keys demolishes its spurious claimed advantages, explains how its creator used waffling marketing treatises and badly flawed experiments to "prove" its superiority, and also addresses some of the myths around the history of the Qwerty layout, such as that it was intended to slow down typists.
While it's worthless as an alternative keyboard layout, Dvorak is at least interesting as a psychological phenomenon. It's essentially a cult, albeit a fairly harmless one. People are attracted to it by the mythology and the promise of gaining enhanced ability. It works particularly well on geeks, many of whom like to differentiate themselves from mainstream users of technology by using alternative and ostensibly better software and hardware choices, something that helps form their self-image.
Once a person has bought into the Dvorak myth, they have to actually learn to use it, a process that obviously involves some effort. This hardens their opinion in Dvorak's favour, since people don't like to believe they have wasted their time. This, combined with the fact that they're possibly performing intense typing practice for the first time, will likely result in them perceiving their performance as being enhanced by their use of Dvorak. The more time they subsequently spend using Dvorak, and the more they evangelise about its advantages, the greater the investment of their ego they make into it, and so the more convinced they become of its superiority. Sometimes this results in madness like this where they actually produce entire web sites and comics entirely devoted to promoting Dvorak, where they can converse with other converts, convinced that they're doing the world a great favour by trying to convert the uneducated masses and grumbling about some great conspiracy amongst keyboard manufacturers to suppress the truth.
I was going to write a scathing reply to the original post but your post is already 1,000 times better than anything I could have written. Beautifully done.
OK Mister Smart Wearing Pants. What is the most efficient keyboard layout?
Qwerty is more than adequate for general purpose computing tasks, in which typing speed is of little significance once you reach a reasonable competence. Even for tasks like data-entry where it might be, you'd be better off concentrating on improving your Qwerty speed than searching for a better custom layout, as this wouldn't require you to relearn all your muscle memories, and would enable you to use your enhanced typing abilities without needing your own customised keyboard.
In situations where a standard Qwerty keyboard really isn't good enough, there'll likely be a bespoke input device like a Stenotype designed for the task. But obviously such devices sacrifice general purpose usefulness, so aren't of much interest outside their specialism.
Meanwhile, since you're armed with this advanced knowledge about keyboard layouts you can differentiate yourself both from the unwashed masses and from the geeks in the Dvorak cult. Man that's gotta be sweet!
Well, the Dvorak phenomenon demonstrates that fallacious and self-aggrandising beliefs can afflict anyone, including people who would likely be scornful of such beliefs when they come in the form of religion or get-rich-quick schemes. Since I'm only human, and I therefore have an ego, I'd be pretty stupid to believe myself immune to such things just because I (think I) know better in this particular case.
Additionally, my point regarding Dvorak wasn't just about that people are falling prey a false belief, it's that some of them are investing an unreasonable degree of effort and self-worth in something that is of no real consequence. Even if Dvorak was a better keyboard layout, it still wouldn't be important enough for most people to care.
We've all met people who are a little too smugly satisfied that their own technology choices, taste in music, or other specialist knowledge, sets them apart from the mediocre choices of the mainstream. Sometimes the choices of the mainstream are mediocre, and better alternatives are available, but that doesn't justify a superior attitude, or unwelcome evangelising and attempts to "convert" others. When you start investing your time and ego into such choices, and seeking out opportunities to demonstrate your superiority, it becomes harder to judge their merits rationally and skeptically, so making you more susceptible to false beliefs, and also often quite annoying.
Given all this, I certainly don't feel any superiority over the "unwashed masses" over my choice of keyboard layout, as I have no advantage over them, and most of them would find the entire debate tedious and incomprehensible in the extreme. I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel some slight superiority over the die-hard Dvorak converts, who make comics and websites about it, but like I said, I'm only human.