Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Are traditional 101 button keyboards dying out?

I read the other day that there are 10 million Twitter users in the UK. That is 1 in 6 Britons using Twitter and that 80% of their tweets are made using a mobile phone. These figures are quite surprising and they made me wonder.

These statistics mean that 8 million people a day in the UK are using smartphones to connect to Twitter and the internet plus email. That is a lot of people using smartphones with either tiny little buttons like on a Blackberry or a virtual keyboard on a touch screen like on an Android phone.

This amount of data entry is rather surprising considering these people can't touch type like I can at great speed on a traditional 101 button keyboard attached to a desktop computer. As I rattle off this blog post, I wonder how long it would take Matthew to post the same number of characters on his smartphone.

Will our nation lose the skills to touch type at great speed on traditional keyboards as we become a nation of phone stabbers? These smartphones are great for portability but must be frustrating to type at length on. Maybe that is why Twitter has a 140 character limit for it's posts because the phone stabbers can't go the distance. If this rise in Twitter continues then we could become a nation of phone stabbers that are limited to 140 character soundbites.

Discuss - hopefully with comments greater than 140 characters long.
I'm a traditionalist, as I suspect you are, Stephen. My 'smartphone' is a BlackBerry - so not very smart at all. I chose to purchase the only BlackBerry withouth a QWERTY keypad layout as I prefer predictive text. My theory is that sending a text/tweet should be as fast as possible and you can't beat predictive text over QWERTY for this.

Only BlackBerry uses SureType not Nokia-standard predictive text, which is shit. I may well sell my soul and go for a touchscreen iPhone or something similar in January.

As for the 101 keyboard, I find it so much simpler to use than a phone, for obvious reasons. It's nice being able to have your arms free to use. And of course you're correct about the speed being far in excess of anything someone can do with one thumb using a phone. That's not to say there aren't any freaks out there who can't type unnaturally fast with one thumb.

For as long as there are offices, there'll be a 101 standard keyboard. Twitter lends itself better to mobile phones/PDAs due to its limited characters. It could be that it was designed for these mobile devices in mind, so I'm not too concerned about keyboards going out of fashion.

What concerns me more is people losing touch with how to spell and thinking abbreviated words are English language - the real unfortunate by-product of squeezing everything into 140 charackters.
I also hate it when people do not use standard English and have bad spelling. The use of many abbreviations gets away from the sheer art of communication and makes the person appear illiterate.
Twitter also tends to lend itself to being used on the move on mobile devices purely because of what it is, a tool to comment on what's going on where you are.

I'm quite an avid Twitter user (@dracunculus2010 < blatant plug, follow me!!) and it can be quite fun trying to fit something witty and pithy into 140 characters; however I refuse to use text speak. Text speak used to have a place, kind of, when SMS messages were limited and expensive but now with "all you can eat" deals on SMS messages and MMS services there's really no excuse.

It is creeping into society though, my sister handles recruitment for one of the big utility companies and she tells me she is seeing more and more text speak creeping into CVs!

I'm reasonably relaxed about it though; languages change and evolve and they always have. But with that said people who misuse apostrophes tend to get the firey end of the breath weapon!
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