My Joyful (& Painful) Switch to Dvorak

The Qwerty keyboard layout is one of those widely accepted yet utterly senseless conventions our society clings to.

Adam Ruins Everything needs to do an episode on Qwerty.

Unlike the tipping problem, which will take widespread involvement of restaurants to solve, the madness of Qwerty can be ended in each person’s life through their own choice.

Problem is, most of us just can’t be bothered.

The Madness of Qwerty

The prototype of a keyboard was, as you might expect, a simple A-Z layout.

The machine it was attached to couldn’t hack it. The hammers got stuck because they relied on gravity to reset themselves. Slow!

Source: DVzine.org

You would think the inventor would throw a spring on the hammers to make them snap back into place faster.

But no.

Instead, he decided to spread common letter pairings as far apart as possible!

Source: DVzine.org

When this design went to market, it didn’t do well. It still jammed a lot and you couldn’t see what you were typing.

Source: DVzine.org

So the design was improved, including spring-loaded hammers.

Source: DVzine.org

This new fast-hammer design made the Qwerty keyboard obsolete.

Qwerty was obsolete before typewriters even became widely used!!

But they kept it because…

…and because changing the layout could have hurt short-term sales.

Let’s not hate them too hard. Remember, no one had ever suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome before, and who could have predicted that every miserable blighter on the planet would be typing one day?

The world has changed, and Qwerty’s crappy chickens have come home to roost.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) has become such a legitimate problem that the contraption below has been built and sold to normal humans who bought it with a straight face.

There are mirrors on the side of that thing. Mirrors!

All when a layout change would have solved the same problem.

Enter: Dvorak

Credit: Matt Stratmoen

It’s my second day typing in Dvorak, so it’s taking me a painfully long time to type anything. But I’m having a lot of fun watching myself improve, and this layout already feels much nicer to use.

It just…ya know…makes sense with the human hand and the English language.

I was inspired while listening to Tim Ferriss’s interview of Matt Mullenweg, the creator of Wordpress. He made the switch when he was 14. He simply reasoned that since he was probably going to be typing for his whole life, he may as well learn to do it efficiently from the beginning. He switched cold-turkey and took a couple of months to overtake his previous speed. (He types for a living on a normal shaped laptop keyboard and he’s never had an issue with his wrists).

I tried to switch once before, years ago, but I gave up!

I know, I know. But this time will be different!

As I listened to the podcast, I whipped together my own Dvorak keyboard using cut up post-it notes…

Isn’t it beautiful?

I bought that sexy-arse ergonomic keyboard because I could feel my wrists start to hurt after a full day of working on my laptop. I’m such a part of the problem!…but no more!


I’ll end here because I’m squeezing this out at a rate of 17 wpm.

Let’s see how long it’ll take me to get back up to my Qwerty max of 85.

If you want to read more about Dvorak, check out this e-zine I referenced above.