I sat munching idly on the last of my salad as my dad continued to talk about his new typing technique. Once incorrectly diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome we’d since come to realize he actually had something known as Repetitive Stress Injury. It causes incessant typing to be difficult, and repetitive clicking of a mouse almost impossible. He uses an automatic mouse clicking software, but there’s not much solution to typing for a programmer. Lack of a proven solution doesn’t keep us from discussing, or designing, new, outlandish, and even absurd ideas.
Let me make it clear; dinner table conversations are a great breeding ground for Ideas. Wherever you are, and whoever it is who’s sitting at the head of the table, if you sit back and listen with your mind wide open Ideas will crawl in and wake you up with their potential. My dad’s speculation on the proper layout of keyboards had brought images and theories into my head that I could not get out. I was impatient for dinner to be done, so that I could sit at the piano with a roll of masking tape and a sharpie marker and work out what a keyboard would look like in such a format.
It was more difficult than I first supposed. The first problem that presented itself was the lack of special keys like space, enter, shift, alternate, etc. I immediately decided that the keypad on the right of an ordinary keyboard, the number pad, arrow keys, etc, would have to remain identical. However, a piano has something keyboards don’t; pedals. The three pedals on a standard piano became space, shift, and enter. This only left the numbers and their corresponding symbols, ctrl, alt. caps lock, tab, esc, and F1-12 to be accounted for, beside the letters.One way to take care of them would be to use a pedal board, such as are seen on an organ.
My first layout was very basic. The home row of both hands went at the end of the keyboard, the bottom row on the inside of that, and the top row on the black keys. The black keys are poorly situated, and I left several blank as a result. Ideally one would have to make a special keyboard that alternate white and black keys. This resulted in have several “positions” such as on a violin. If one were to construct such a keyboard I think a split down the middle to clearly separate the right and left hands would be beneficial.
One of the big differences between piano playing and typing is that on piano you are accustomed to using both hands at once. Attempting to actually type on my makeshift piano keyboard confused me badly, as I kept forgetting where the letters were. One would become more efficient with practice, of course, but if the letters were written out as notes I’d have no difficulty, as I sight-read and touch-type with equal ease. This leads us into an entirely new line of inquiry…
What If we used music notation as a writing system?