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Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Can Type. Can You? Try it: You'll Like it

We all use keyboards every day. This means we all type in some form or other every day as we interact with our keyboards. And of course this doesn't just apply to the writers (or wannabes) amongst us: even to keep the most basic of blogs, one has to type in the words.
But how many of us can actually type? I mean as in with all fingers, in the right order and without having to watch each finger as it struggles to find the right key. According to some research I read recently, there aren't many computer users who can type in a structured way. Most just peck away, one or two or more fingers at a time, struggling to make the words come out on the screen in a readable way.
And what's worse is that this same research suggests that as time goes by, the number of 'real typists' using computers is set to decline dramatically. Of course there is the argument (used by many to justify their own lack of skill in this area) that it's only a matter of time before speech recognition and keyless computers become the norm.
Well, I'm no tech geek, but I figure it's going to be a while before we reach that wonderful state of affairs. Sad or not, we are going to be using the old QWERTY or some other keyboards for some time to come.
I guess there are many many people who are quite happy using the reach and peck method, or are contented to be using two fingers to type a word every minute. But what of all the others who might want to get the words onto the screen just a little bit quicker?
About 20 years ago (actually it was 24 years now I think about it, but hey who's gonna count?) I decided that I hated my handwriting so much, that I needed to do something about it. Also, times were such that submitting articles and so on to newspapers etc, had to be typed to be taken seriously. Also I was seriously into letter writing (remember letters? That's another cool topic for another day), and nobody I am sure enjoyed getting my scrawled pages. I figured that nice, neat typewritten pages were what my readers deserved.
So I found a night school class at the local high school. Ten weeks I think it was, though it might have been five or six. A couple of hours one night a week of torturous drills and repetitive exercises. I was convinced for most of that course that I would never be able to type accurately, much less with any kind of speed.
Then, on the second last night I think it was, I realised suddenly that I was typing. I was using ten fingers, hitting mostly the right keys, without looking, without even being conscious of the process. I tell you people, it was magic, truly magic.
Since then I have had jobs that I wouldn't have had if I hadn't been able to type; I've progressed from typewriters, to word processors, to desk tops computers, to this machine I love so much: my laptop (which is actually on my lap as I type). My speed had increased so I now type I guess about 60 words per minute with reasonable accuracy (most of the time at least). In summary, I can't imagine not being able to type.
I've often said that learning to type properly was one of the best things I ever did in my life. And, yes, I think it is. Certainly from a work, writing, communication point of view, there is no doubt: being able to type as I do has been a liberation, on a par with learning to drive and having my own car. A miracle? In a sense you could say it is, yes.
As I said, it seemed hard at the time, like I would never get it. But, there I was that night just typing. Just like now, but probably a bit slower.
So, for anyone wanting to improve their ability to communicate; for anyone wanting to be able to get their words and thoughts out as quickly as they come to mind (well I do think faster than I can type, like most people I guess. But it beats doing it with two fingers); for people who just want to be able to interact in a more intuitive way with the amazing technology we have at our disposal, then learning to type is for you!
There are night school and other places that put on typing classes. And there are quite a few online programs, and it seems many of them are free. Of course there is a load of teach yourself typing software you can buy. There are a lot of options.
So, why not? I love that I can type as I do with all my fingers,without looking at the keys (or even the screen if I don't want to or can't for some reason), without thinking about every letter. It is freedom for anyone who uses a keyboard.
I say try it. You won't regret it and you will probably, like me, surprise yourself at how useful, how much fun, how rewarding and satisfying it is to type well...or touch type as we typists call it!
Good Luck

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