Archives for posts with tag: Typing

I wrote recently about how many of us are in front of a device keyboard all day and manage to get by with 2 or 4-finger typing, rather than potentially the 10 digits at our disposal. When was the last time you saw a job ad for an predominantly office-based role that wasn’t for a PA or secretary that said ‘since the majority of your time is desk-bound, you must be able to type 50 words a minute or more to apply’?

When I had a few months off between jobs about 15 years ago, I went to a typing course. I didn’t last more than a couple of weeks. Even though I wasn’t working, I couldn’t spare the lost productivity while my typing speed was cut into a quarter of ‘slow’. I didn’t have the time to engrain the behaviours to see the long term benefit.

Because I’ve probably typed a million words since then, I’ve improved my typing ‘organically’. I’ve made it up as I go along. My organic typing is now a flurry of activity as hands cross over each other and fingers overlap. I look like a piano player when I type, and it’s hardly a virtuoso performance.

Interestingly, one of my brothers can type properly, and he’s had some issues with RSI – repetitive strain injury. I wonder if the act of anchoring your wrists down more and being more regimented with the spaces your fingers occupy makes you more prone to these injuries of ‘isolation’ compared to the organic way of letting the fingers go where they want to and damn the downturn in efficiency.

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How many of us spend large amounts of time at a computer, device, smartphone or other digital device? What do we do on them? Well, principally we’re typing our part of some dialogue.

Isn’t it amazing that computers have formed the central role in our working and playing lives yet so few of us can type properly? What a bonus it would be to type as fast as we can talk, as fast as we can think even. How much more productive could we be?

Many of us continue to get by on 2-finger typing. I’ve graduated to 4-finger typing, with the occasional thumb for the space bar and the pinkie for the return key, when I don’t use the dictate function on my mac. It’s still painfully slow, but it’s progress of a kind I suppose.

I find it flabbergasting that the primary and secondary schools my kids go to don’t get typing and keyboarding lessons. Boys and girls both need it; it’s an essential skill for the modern world, even if we never type anything during our working day.

We’re all looking at the keyboard, when we should be looking at the screen. There’s a metaphor for life in there somewhere.

Do you remember, back in the days before computers and any kind of automation, managers used to say to their secretaries ‘take a letter Miss Dilger’?

How times have changed. Now we do our own letters and our secretaries are personal assistants helping us with our own productivity.

I was reminded of this recently when I downloaded the latest Macintosh operating system for my laptop. Usually, I ignore these downloads and proceed with my daily work in the normal way. They don’t affect me. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when the latest release of the operating system downloaded some dictation software for my machine. I had to have a play immediately.

As you probably know, dictation software has been around for quite some time, but it has been notoriously unreliable. Either it completely misunderstood the dictated words or needed a vast amounts of corrections afterwards. Well, I have to say that the current dictation software which I am using to create this blog post is nothing short of a revelation. It is unbelievably accurate, easy to use and time saving. It has probably saved me half the time it normally takes to create a blog post. A couple of changes are all I need to make before I publish the post. In fact, the only mistake it really made was to spell my surname Dillinger and that really is no bad thing.

It is a strange feeling when the creative process becomes one of dictating verbally rather than imagining in your head and then typing in your computer. It reminds me of the differences between spoken language and written language. That said, however, to say that this is a somewhat seismic day for me as a writer and blogger is possibly the understatement of the year. Full stop.

A while back, we were doing the rounds of secondary schools with our first born to see where he’d like to pursue the most important decade of his life, educationally speaking. We’re lucky in that we live in a small town but we have 3 secondary schools to choose from, each of them different in their own way.

I asked each one of the about the provision of keyboarding – or typing as it was known to me when I was in secondary school, and back then it was only girls that were allowed to do it… – lessons for kids. Guess how many of them provide such lessons?

None.

I was astounded. I have grown up as the generation who were already passing through or past secondary school when computers came in. We made it up as we went along and after 3 decades of muddling through I can do about 30 words a minute using about half of my available digits. I cross hands and lose millions of split-seconds a year in productivity and effectiveness. I neither have the time nor the inclination to learn to type properly. It would be like a ‘righty’ stopping all work for 3 months and learning to play golf left-handed.

For kids who are 12-18 in today’s era, keyboarding skills are crucial, vital even to productive education and careers. Sure, you can learn online with software and commitment, but these skills are best taught by disciplined, patient teachers. Sure, the qwerty keyboard might be replaced by something revolutionary and probably ‘swipey’ at some point, but right now, it’s what we have and I want my kids being taught a key life-skill at school.

It’s madness I tell you, madness…