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Were some of these alternatives better than others? Are our alphabets, decimal counting, Arabic numerals, and Gregorian calendar really superior to Chinese logograms, Babylonian base-60 counting, Roman numerals, and the Mayan calendar?
The reason for this disaster is simple: QWERTY perversely puts the most common English letters on other rows.At the time, I didn’t wonder about its arbitrariness and never asked myself why our standard keyboard uses the QWERTY arrangement instead of alphabetical order or any other obviously advantageous arrangement.Whatever the original reasons for our adopting QWERTY, however, we now seem firmly committed to it.The home row of nine letters includes two of the least used (J and K) but none of the three most frequently used (E, T, and O, which are relegated to the upper row) and only one of the five vowels (A), even though 40 percent of all letters in a typical English text are vowels.To appreciate the consequences of that misdesigning, just remind yourself of how it feels to type pumpkin or minimum on your QWERTY keyboard.When you prepare to type, you rest your fingers on QWERTY’s second-from-the-bottom row, called the home row.
Obviously, the more typing you can do without having to move your fingers from the home row, the faster you’ll be able to type, the fewer errors you’ll make, and the less you’ll strain your fingers.
Commitment to our spouses, our children, and our careers is held to be virtuous; lack of commitment is a common criticism. After all, what one is committed to might be either good or bad; commitment to a destructive relationship, an unsatisfying job, or alcoholism deserves no praise.
Often, commitment can mean nothing more than an involvement that has outlived its original justification.
Unfortunately, out of any 100 pairs of consecutive letters in a typical English text, six require a reach and four a hurdle on the QWERTY keyboard.
These inconveniences are minimized by any of the numerous competing keyboard designs that concentrate the most common English letters onto the home row.
All of us have at one time or another felt trapped by such a commitment, longing for a happier, though uncertain, state of existence but fearing the short-term pain required to reach it.