Why must QWERTY die

I’m hoping that I’m more than a single voice in the wilderness. It’s now time to remove the scourge of the QWERTY keyboard from the face of the planet. It’s ugly, baffling, complicated and utterly joyless.

It take years to master, yet remains elusively beyond both logic and intuition. It slows us down, wastes time, impedes learning and perpetuates failure. And for generations it has visited untold grief, anguish and frustration upon countless billions. All over the planet.

We can do better. Much better. We owe it to ourselves to cast off this self-perpetuating design flaw from the industrial revolution. It’s time to replace it with something better, faster and easier.

And that time is now.

As we move from physical to virtual keyboards. As we adopt new gestural controls. As we adapt to direct interactions with our screens. As we change the way we write – with our thumbs… one-handed…with our voice. As we progress as a species, lets equip ourselves with the best tools to realise all the exciting possibilities of the information revolution.

I’d love to hear your views. So please leave a comment. Or join the campaign. Together, let’s restore logic and order and intuition and commonsense. And reclaim our alphabet.

3,168 Responses to Why must QWERTY die

  1. Joseph Steel

    The continued promotion of the Qwerty keyboard system is a perfect example of an old Jamaican saying, also found in the French language as “Singe qui voit, singe qui fait.” … The learning of a process without an understanding of why it works.

    True tech evolution means the alphabet confusion soup known as Qwerty must go. Let’s make it easy to see our ABC.

  2. I am not an avid proponent of Qwerty, as (like almost every typist from the 20th century) I only learned it because I was never given an alternative. I don’t have any particular emotional or aesthetic attachment to it (although the familiarity of it after years of continuous use does actually have some nostalgic value), but I also don’t hate it.

    I feel like this is a very misleading page because it is titled “Why must QWERTY die?” but says very little about the layout except “It’s bad.” In order to justify an objective argument against something, there’s a burden of evidence that’s really lacking here.

    I’m also very curious what layout you would advocate instead. It would be naive to suggest something like an alphabetical layout, since the distribution of frequently typed letters is not well spaced in such a layout. However, popular alternatives like Colemak and Dvorak have a defensible reasoning behind them. Do you favor one of those, or something different entirely?

    • Hi Andrew, Thanks for your comment. Great points. I’m just using this blog to explore alternatives… while working on my own. And I am a QWERTY hater – mostly because of the learning curve. You could learn fluent Hungarian faster than it takes to master QWERTY.

      And QWERTY must die, because PCs will die. Voice -to-text offers a path to the future… but not a perfect one. I see keyboards (or manual text entry) as playing a smaller and smaller role. In effect, we’ll probably just need them for: 1. Those private messages that we don’t want to vocalise 2. Generating text in quiet areas (libraries, theatres) 3. fixing voice-to-text errors 4. adding non-dictionary words (new names, addresses, recipes, foreign words etc.) 5. General cut/paste/edit

      So why lumber ourselves with something that takes years to learn? Something that most of the population never quite masters. This places the burden of proof is with QWERTY. Why are the keys in such a confusing order? It’s not ergonomics… it’s because of mechanics. So while the mechanical keys don’t jam anymore, guess what? 100% of user’s fingers do. I’ve made 12 errors typing this already. 13 now. 14.

      And why retro-fit an obviously flawed design into our smartphones and tablets? Thus creating a keyboard design that retains all the old disadvantages and adds a whole slew of new ones?

      And considering the majority of the human race has never used a QWERTY keyboard yet, why lumber them with this ridiculous learning curve and a new raft of usability issues when they buy their first smartphone?

      We’ll be stuck with QWERTY for a while. But that’s no excuse to not explore better solutions for new devices. I really don’t care what people use to power their PCs and laptops – Dvorak, Colemak, whatever… It’s like comparing buggy whips.

      What I do care about is touchscreens. And QWERTY ain’t the tool for this job.

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  3. Scoox

    The QWERTY keyboard is proof that most people are happy whit whatever crap you give them. A few “ergonomic” keyboards have hit the market but most of them suck in one way or another. An independent open project named Key64 has emerged which is bound to produce the perfect keyboard. You can google for it.

    In my opinion, for the QWERTY keyboard to be replaced with something better it’s going to take a large hardware manufacturer taking the plunge. Apple would easily be able to pull this one, I mean they got away with the one-button mouse and many other shocking omissions.

    People are not scared to try alternative input devices. There are plenty of whacky computer mice out there and people buy them: different button sizes, different button positions, different button count, and different shapes and sizes. The real problem is that alternative keyboards are too bloody expensive! Why would the average user who can’t touch-type anyway spend $200 on a keyboard when a $5 keyboard does the same job? The vast majority of computer users can’t touch-type, therefore the can’t benefit from an ergonomic keyboard, in fact it could make hunt-and-peck typing harder. People love to try new toys and gadgets, especially if they are inexpensive. One day my friends, one day.

    • Thanks Scoox – very valid points. I’m with you: QWERTY’s days are numbered.

      However, I don’t think the solution will be a hardware one. PCS sales are falling. Laptop sales are flatlining. So while I admire the Key64 concept – they’re designing for a dying industry. The future of text entry will be played out on touchscreens.

      The blinkers the Key64 folks have on is that they think they are in the keyboard industry, not the text-creation industry. And the winner of this race will be a voice-to-text technology… coupled with a simple, fast, smart and efficient keyboard that doesn’t take months, years or, in some cases, lifetimes to master.

      One day, Scoox, One day. :-)

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