Typing in the Dark

Like a lot of people I am a touch typist. OK not a great one and I have trouble with special characters but still I get  but most of the time. This means a couple of things. One is that I can take notes while watching the people or person who is talking. That seems more polite than looking at the keyboard. And it means that I can type in the dark when I can’t see the keyboard if I want to. (Which I am doing now BTW)  It’s a pretty useful skill to have. And of course it means that I type faster (though not real fast) then I would if I had to look for the keys all the time.

I went to secretarial school to learn to type when I was in middle school. Yes a special school for mostly women to learn office skills that was mostly typing and shorthand. I never learned the shorthand but the typing I learned and that has served me well for years and years. It was weird being a middle school boy in a place like that. I pretty muck just worked because I was not about to talk to all those older women some of whom much have been at least 20!

Now a days people learn to text by touch. That’s just not going to happen for me and I don’t think anyone teachers that. People just learn it. I’m not sure how many people who IM can touch type though. I tend to think that some of the reason for text and IM shorthand is that people just don’t type fast enough. I know that a lot of the conversations I have are with people who use code and still do not type as much real information as I do. That can cause misunderstandings at time.

Does anyone know if middle schools teach typing these days? Or younger? High schools seem to pretty much have dropped it. Somewhere along the line I think that typing should be something people learn though. Maybe not to me a super fast touch typist but at least good enough to write a good essay and keep up with a text based conversation. What do you think?

One Response to “Typing in the Dark”

  1. Matt says:

    Does anyone know if middle schools teach typing these days?

    I took it in elementary school, and onto middle school. (Not an “intensive” thing done every year, but it came up several times.) Of course this was some time ago. (I’m starting to feel old. Ten years ago I was in middle school?!)

    High schools seem to pretty much have dropped it.

    BG included? I tested out, but I seem to recall hearing that Mr. I’s intro course taught keyboarding. Again, that would have been 4+ years ago.

    What do you think?

    Yes, yes, yes! I type around 100wpm, and I sometimes feel like it’s not fast enough. (Other times I realize that I don’t think at 100 wpm…) Being a master typist over 100wpm isn’t a skill everyone needs, but I think it’s doing kids a disservice to never teach them touch-typing.

    Now a days people learn to text by touch. … People just learn it.

    I’d definitely agree with this. I’ve got a “thumboard” QWERTY keyboard on my phone (Treo), so there’s less learning involved. But on the phone before that, a “normal” one, I realized I was entering words without thinking about the underlying process. It definitely just builds up over time: instead of thinking, “Okay, I hit 4 twice…” I just think, “H” and double-tap 4. (Major geek confession: I had no idea what letter actually went with “4-4,” and since my only phone has a QWERTY keyboard, I had to pull up a ham radio and look.) I don’t know if I could do it today, though, having probably forgotten everything I need.

    I’m not sure how many people who IM can touch type though.

    I don’t know the statistic, but I don’t think that it’s just that people can’t type. Most of my friends write in proper English (or at least passable), aside from shorthand. But no one’s going to type out, “Boy Matt, that was kind of funny” instead of “lol,” which is just accepted.

    But from people who use various forms of shorthand often, I’ll sometimes get multiple IMs in a one-second window. Typing “rotfl” and sending it takes me probably a quarter-second. (“lol” is even less, since it uses two fingers.)

    at least good enough to write a good essay

    This is one thing that I’m really pleased with about my education. Between having learned to type really well and having been taught to write really well, I can bang out a one-page paper in maybe 5 minutes. Ten if it requires that I think. (I actually had an “oh crap!” minute last week when I realized I’d overlooked a one-page summary due in about 15 minutes. I handed it in on time. I haven’t gotten it back, but it was at least “B” work. Certainly not my best, but given the circumstances, I’m pretty happy.)

    But my point isn’t that teachers have low standards, or that I’m some sort of genius writer. It’s that learning to type fast will make you more efficient at anything you type for the rest of your life.

    One final aside–I bring my laptop to some of my classes for note-taking. (And I keep my notes on a Wiki, actually, which has worked out quite well. That might be a blog post some day…) The other day I forgot it at home, and was forced to take notes by hand.

    With my laptop, I take really good notes. I get all his important points, but there’s also a lot of free time. Having had him enough, I’ve picked up on a lot of things. He’ll ask “Does a contract exist in that case?,” and even though I have no clue, since he’s in the process of teaching it, I know from the way he’s saying it. So not only can I keep up with him just fine, but I sometimes get ahead of him.

    So I’ll keep up GMail and the blogs or Ask Metafilter or some other favorite site. You’ll see some people who are clearly paying no attention to class, but not me. (Actually, last week a girl in one of my classes was sitting in the front row, and staring intently at her computer. The professor asked a question, and no one volunteered a response. He’s fond of randomly pointing at people and saying, “What do you think?” in cases like that. So he ended up pointing to laptop girl, who had no idea. He asked it again, still with her oblivious. Not until he shouted “Hello?” and waved his hand in front of her face did she look up, and reply “Huh? What?” (Maximizing how pathetic she was, he repeated the question, to which she replied, “Wait, can you repeat that?”)) For me, it’s just filling downed time. I’ve already taken notes on what he’s saying. I’m still listening, but I’m looking at my e-mail or reading the latest post while he goes over something I know.

    Off of the double-tangent, the real story is that I forgot my laptop last week and took paper notes. At points I was struggling to keep up. And my notes are a mess, as opposed to being categorized, searchable, and with metanotes. (He’ll say “You’ll see this on the exam, so make sure you know X aspect of this…” So I have a template I insert to make these notations, which I attribute to the 101 I got on the exam he gave.)

Leave a Reply