RE: Economists challenge the QWERTY myth.

Jim Whitehead (
Fri, 27 Feb 1998 18:12:20 -0800

On Thursday, February 26, 1998 7:41 PM, duck []
> RE: The QWERTY debate. Is it not a moot point? Won't keyboards
> themselves be obsolete within a generation?

Actually, all of the bits in this QWERTY article are pretty old.
Unfortunately I don't have the papers in front of me right now, but as I
recall, Liebowitz and Margolis wrote about the QWERTY myth in the late
'80s. The article is right, however, in asserting that the relevance of
the network externalities literature has increased dramatically with the
recent Microsoft case.

As for the obsolescence of keyboards, we shall see. Which is faster,
verbally saying "move down to the next item" or moving your finger over the
down arrow and pressing it once? Even with a processor as sophisticated as
a human operating a computer, verbally directing the operation of a
computer is a mind-bogglingly frustrating experience. So verbal interfaces
aren't the answer, and direct mind-machine interfaces are a long, long way
off (if ever), so what exactly is going to replace the keyboard? Pen-based
computing isn't the answer, since a good typist can beat handwriting speeds

Any innovation will require changes in the desktop metaphor and will have
to provide superior behavior to the keyboard, and both of these are a tall

I say the keyboard is here to stay for a good long time.

- Jim