[FoRK] GQOTD: Any Morse keys set up as computer keyboards?

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Wed May 25 19:43:48 PDT 2005

Spent a bit of time last time year researching alternative text input  
devices for various personal reasons.  The idea of Morse input  
occurred to me, but IMHO there's a subtle but significant difference  
in thought process that occurs when serially generating characters  
via multiple actions vs. what occurs when you type on a keyboard.  I  
have a hard time explaining this but it seems to me that, at least  
for me, typing occurs at the level of words and phrases (or even  
larger / more abstract units of thought) rather than serially,  
whereas (hand) writing and presumably Morse occur at the character  
level and are very serial in nature.  For Morse that could just be  
lack of familiarity / muscle memory, but I spent the first many years  
of my life writing --- and even when I was learning to type (and  
clearly not as comfortable with it) it seemed that there was a  
qualitative difference.

Digging in a bit...  Morse and writing share the following  
characteristic:  several distinct muscle movements are required to  
generate each character.  On the other hand (no pun intended) typing  
involves one or two simultaneous and highly isomorphic muscle  
movements.  I've also looked at chording input mechanisms and am not  
a big fan.  For those kinds of devices the muscle motions required to  
form each character, while simultaneous rather than serial like  
Morse, are highly differentiated and each involve several different  
muscle actions by rather more muscles.

My hypothesis is that the muscle motion required to type is more  
naturally handled "lower down" in the cognitive stack, freeing the  
upper layers to focus on the more abstract tasks of composition.   
Further, I suggest that this is an inherent characteristic of typing- 
like systems vs. writing, Morse-like, chorded, or --- yes --- even  
speech systems.  I.e., while we can argue the merits of different  
keyboard layouts and systems, there's something rather optimal about  
typing as a text input method that is *not* merely a function of  
familiarity and training.


What I've really been looking for --- no jokes, please ;-) --- is a  
one-handed keyboard that leverages traditional typing as much as  
possible, with one or two single- or two-finger muscle actions for  
each character.

I did find such a device;  haven't got around to trying it out yet,  
but it looks very interesting:




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