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Education Technology

Is Typing a Necessary Skill? 1065

Posted by Cliff
from the quick-brown-fox-jumps-over-the-lazy-dog dept.
cloudwilliam asks: "The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article on how many schools have stopped teaching touch-typing as a necessary office skill and are now often saying that basic computer skills are more important. I'd agree with the latter, but what about typing? I learned to type on an IBM Selectric II (and still own one, as a matter of fact) in the mid-1980s, and the last time I was tested, touch-typed at around 60 wpm. Is this an obsolete skill? With handwriting and voice recognition technologies, is using a QWERTY keyboard with nine out of ten fingers something worth knowing anymore?"
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Is Typing a Necessary Skill?

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  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#9882844)
    Better to understand how the computer works, and learn to type as you use it. I don't think that voice and other technologies are going replace the KeyBwa anytime soon though.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:22PM (#9882931)
      I agree, for me, as my computer skills increased (and irc/chatting), typing came right along. And while I did my fair share of mario and mavis beacon classes, I never learned as much as I did just getting out and using my 386. (although I do type incorrectly, I can hit over 80 WPM)
      • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

        by POWRSURG (755318) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:40PM (#9883229) Homepage

        I have got to say that is the exact oppposite with me. In high school we had a keyboarding class that I greatly accelled in, and within a few weeks attained a score higher than my teacher had set for us for the end of the semester (giving me an A for the course for the most part). It has only been in recent years as I am IRCing and programming more that my typing skills have gone down. I often make errors that I must go back and correct, where as before I would type them correctly the first time.

        Maybe I'm in the minority, but the more I learn about computers the slower and less accurate my typing has been. Oddly enough, I rarely make mistakes with hot/shortcut-keys, except I do tend to hit Ctrl+D (shortcut to add a bookmark) rather than Alt+D (transfer focus to a highighted address bar) in Firefox.

        • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nelsonal (549144) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:21PM (#9883708) Journal
          Isn't it odd how much easier it is to always find the correct key when reaching for a shortcut than when all the fingers are in their location on home row. I can always seem to find CTRL X,C,and V without looking when I try to cut copy or paste, but interchange them frequently while typing.
        • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

          by NeoThermic (732100)
          >> Oddly enough, I rarely make mistakes with hot/shortcut-keys, except I do tend to hit Ctrl+D (shortcut to add a bookmark) rather than Alt+D (transfer focus to a highighted address bar) in Firefox.

          You know that F6 will also select the text in the address bar ready for typing?

          Although using it will introduce a new error, you will accidently hit F5 rather than F6 :P

          NeoThermic
        • Re:No (Score:3, Funny)

          by lewko (195646)
          In high school we had a keyboarding class that I greatly accelled in

          And we all bet you excelled in your English class as well!
      • by Lev13than (581686) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:50PM (#9883355) Homepage
        (although I do type incorrectly, I can hit over 80 WPM)

        This comment made me realize that I had no idea how fast I could type (never took a course). So, after a quick search here are some free on-line typing tests:

        TypingPal.com [typingpal.com]
        TypingTest.com [typingtest.com]

        Turns out that I'm in the 2nd decile with a respectable 58 wpm (mean is approx. 40, and anyone who claims >100 is either in the 99.8%-ile or is full of BS). A thorough analysis of typing speeds can be found here [fivestarstaff.com].
        • 72 wpm at TypingTest.com, with 88% accuracy -- but half the errors were from hitting the backspace key to correct the previous error. Why do typing tests always tell you not to backspace over errors?
          • by Altrag (195300) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:26PM (#9883753)
            This is something that has consistently annoyed me. The reason backspacing is "soooo" bad is a layover from typewriter era as best I can tell --even on a typewriter with a good working backspace, if you don't notice it before you've gone to the next line, you throw the page away.

            This of course is complete BS in a modern word processor. I frequently use not only the backspace key, but things like word-left and the end key to correct my mistakes in a fraction of the time it would take to backspace all the way back and fix it.

            A modern typing test should really do a few things:
            a) measure mistakes after the entire text is typed. Would work even better with a count-up clock and a "Done" button than with a count-down clock like typingtest has.
            b) allow you to use the full range of editing keys in , including things like autocorrect and autocomplete (even when they autocomplete something wrong). Of course this is highly impractical unless the typing test is actually built into the word processor, but thats about the only way to get accurate real-world results using that particular program.

            Until those two conditions are met, typing tests of this sort are pretty much only measuring how fast you can type on a really really fast typewriter.
            • The reason backspacing is "soooo" bad is a layover from typewriter era as best I can tell --even on a typewriter with a good working backspace, if you don't notice it before you've gone to the next line, you throw the page away.

              This of course is complete BS in a modern word processor.

              I suppose that makes sense; though for the purposes of teaching typing, insisting on high accuracy may still be useful; in practice a student that types more slowly, but with 100% accuracy, is going to be the better typist

        • by Audacious (611811) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:36PM (#9883852) Homepage
          I used to type over 110wpm. Keyboards still can not keep up with how fast I can type. (Or is it I'm just not hitting the keys correctly anymore? :-O Oh well!) Arthritis is beginning to have an impact on how fast and how long I can type also. The repetitive strain on my tendons and muscles (after typing more than 30 years) is also making it harder and harder to type very quickly for long periods of time.

          Although it will be a great boon to be able to talk to your computer and have it type out whatever it is you are saying - I can still type faster than I can talk.

          I have also shown people, in the past just how quickly I can type. I have them say a sentence and I type it in verbatim, just as they said it. Usually, I finish at the same time they finish speaking (like a second or so afterwards to be truthful). However, as I said above, age is beginning to show and I am not now as fast as I used to be.

          However, it has always frustrated me that computers, which are supposed to be so much faster than a preson at doing anything - can't accept input faster than it presently can. I have heard that this is done on purpose. Seems a shame that keyboard manufacturers feel that they have the right to slow everyone down. :-/
        • by DunbarTheInept (764) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @02:14AM (#9886422) Homepage
          TypingPal was also terrible because it assumed any attempt to hit backspace was an invalid key and marked you accordingly - which meant that one error became two since everyone used to typing on a computer has an unstoppable instant backspace reflex. Also, other automatic reflex actions became errors as well - like hitting space twice after
          ending a sentence with a period - since the source text has only one space between sentences, that extra space was a "mistake". Also, sometimes it wrapped the cursor to the start of the next line as soon as you hit the end of a previous line. Other times it did not. Thus you had to watch where the cursor went or end up with an "error" from hitting return when you weren't supposed to.

          Also, the tendency of the interface to not do what my reflexes expected it to do was a source of cognative dissonance that added more errors - like when backspace didn't visually do anything, I'd hit the key again several more times by reflex before my brain caught up and stopped me, and this results in losing precious seconds to stop and think.

          Typing is a reflex action - but these tests ruin this by turning it into a congative one by making the interface not work as you'd expect it to, so you have to always stop and not be "in the groove" where you type unthinkingly.

          My speed with the test was - 62 words per minute, with 17 errors (really only about 4 errors, but each error resulted in three or four others being counted since I keep on typing the rest of the word before I notice the cursor isn't advancing and so the stupid test thinks I'm trying (and failling) to finally get that letter right when really I'm just typing the rest of the word.)

          I guess that a more real-world test would put my speed at about 65 WPM after errors are accounted for (probably about 80 WPM raw, with 15 WPM lossage from backspacing. I backspace a lot, which is why an input tool that makes backspacing fail to operate the way it naturally should gives me a low score. Not only does the backspacing itself penalize me (understandable), but the cognative dissonance that breaks my stride when the interface behaves in a crippled fashion wrecks my speed far more than that.).

      • wpm? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Psymunn (778581) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:05PM (#9883536)
        words per minute? you insensitive americans. i believe the SI measumerunt is l/s (letters per second).
    • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

      by lucabrasi999 (585141) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:33PM (#9883123) Journal
      I don't think that voice and other technologies are going replace the KeyBwa anytime soon though

      For some reason, I keep thinking of a scene in Star Trek IV [imdb.com] where Scotty is seated at a circa-1980's computer trying to get it to operate.

      Scotty: "Computer!"

      Man in room (handing him a mouse): "Maybe you use this."

      Scotty (speaking into the mouse like it was a microphone): "COMPUTER!"

      Man in Room: "Maybe you should just use the keyboard"

      Scotty: "A keyboard? How quaint!"

      • Re:No (Score:3, Funny)

        by Skater (41976)
        What always gets me about that scene is that he hasn't typed once in the last five years that we've seen but can still type faster than most people I know.

        And they still use Qwerty - or at least that shop happened to be using the same layout Scotty was familiar with!

        There are other problems with that scene, too, such as the fact that he was so familiar with the software running on that Mac that he didn't even need to see it, but that's a topic for another /. discussion. :)

        --RJ
      • How quaint! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Sloppy (14984) * on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:58PM (#9883455) Homepage Journal
        The implication is that he hasn't used a keyboard in decades.

        Picture little Scotty, 10 years old at school, whining, "But Mrs. Crabapple, when are we going to use a keyboard?"

        "Quiet, Mr. Scott, and just do the assignment!"

        Turns out she was right. If Scotty had skipped class that day, the earth might not have been saved.

        Same goes for the day when Mrs. Crabapple taught the class how to use 300-year-old MacPaint as a chemical engineering program. You just never know when the little trivia you learn, may be useful.

        Kirk probably couldn't have done that, because when he was in school, he hacked the computer to let him run a real chemical engineering program, instead of MacPaint.

        "Stupid Mrs. Crabapple. I bet she never rotated the display of a Aluminum alloy structure in 3D, by using the airbrush tool. Well, I'll show her!"

    • Yes (Score:5, Informative)

      by nanojath (265940) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:55PM (#9883413) Homepage Journal
      If you're talking about clerical work, typing is absolutely still a necessary skill. Whoever said that employers no longer specify WPM or that 30 WPM is sufficient for most clerical jobs was simply wrong. Read the want ads. I got a typing test at each of the three temp agencies I've worked for and over the last 5 years been administered several typing tests applying for jobs.

      It is not a substitute for computer skills. You need both in any modern office job with an emphasis on writing. I don't think typing should be required (I never took it in school, I taught myself to touch type, it ain't rocket science). But it should be offered.
  • by shawnmchorse (442605) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:19PM (#9882849) Homepage
    Last time I was tested, I was at around 105 wpm with 99% accuracy. That's just a byproduct of using computers day in and day out for years though, and not a result of any typing class. I gradually developed my own touch typing system, I guess.
    • by Incoherent07 (695470) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:25PM (#9882973)
      Well, in my case it was a 10th grade english class which involved 40 page "journals". I was, however, taught to touch type fairly early on.

      I want to know what crackpot thinks that you can be anywhere near good at what schools usually think of as "computer skills" (read: word processing, web design, Excel, Powerpoint, email, internet) without being able to type at a half-decent rate.
    • by vontrotsky (667853) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:39PM (#9883216)
      You're lucky. I type at about 30 wpm with low accuracy. And it sucks. Hard.

      As a programmer, and halfway decent touch typing class could make my life much much better.

      Jeff
    • by gooru (592512) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:56PM (#9883431)

      Last time I was tested, I was at around 105 wpm with 99% accuracy. That's just a byproduct of using computers day in and day out for years though, and not a result of any typing class. I gradually developed my own touch typing system, I guess.

      I believe that schools are phasing this out not because touch typing is not a necessary skill but because most of the students can already type better than the teachers. I remember taking a required typing class 11 years ago and just being bored out of my mind, because I could already type at more than 90 wpm. (This was in sixth grade.) I would finish the daily assignment in three or four mintues and then screw around with the computer the rest of the period. I'm guessing that since then, the number of kids screwing around has increased exponentially and schools finally realized the class wasn't worth teaching any more.

      • by Rorschach1 (174480) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:51PM (#9883977) Homepage
        I was a fast enough typist that when some joker hit the 'bold' key on my typewriter and it had to double-strike everything, I'd have a whole line in the buffer by the end of a timed test. The teacher would call 'stop' and all the noise in the room would stop, except for one single typewriter - mine - going clickety-click, clickety-clik all by itself.

        Then there was the blonde next to me who always used 'bold' because it sounded like she was typing faster...
      • by thrash242 (697169) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:58PM (#9884073)
        Somehow I doubt that most kids now can type *properly* very quickly. I'm sure they can type quickly with two fingers and using "2" for too or to, "u" for you, etc.

        Most of my typing experience at that age was from MUDding, playing old adventure games and programming. I could type very well when I took my required typing class also (except it was taught on typewriters, not computers). Most kids now have computer experience, but it's with "iming thir h0mies n talkn 2 chix". Games now rarely require typing even when on a PC, and most kids probably play games on consoles anyway. Being able to type like that even at 200 WPM won't help you in a job, most likely.
        • by davebarz (546161) <david AT barzelay DOT net> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:07PM (#9884156) Homepage

          I type over 100 wpm (just barely over, but over) without ever taking a typing course. How did I learn? IMs. Not everyone who uses IMs speaks in that sort of shorthand. Many, many people I know utterly disdain people who type like that, and no one I know actually encourages it.

          And, even if someone does type like you are saying they do, it is absolutely true that the skill to type quickly that way will be easily adaptable to typing with proper spelling and grammar. Typing is the skill of being able to make your hands press the letters that are in your head, and that is the same whether you spell things correctly or incorrectly. You can reasonably allege that IMs are ruining kids' spelling, but not that they are ruining their typing skills.
      • Yes it is a necessary skill, but not in middle school. I learned in middle school. My son also took touch typing in middle school, but it was a joke because he was already an excellent typist from Slashdot, thanks to you guys for ribbing the hell out of kids who try to get away with crappy grammer and spelling He had his feelings hurt a few times till I explained that you don't tolerate stupid people. He smartened up fast..

        BTW, the schools here are having that debate and it appears that they are going

    • by Weasel Boy (13855) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:20PM (#9883699) Journal
      Shawnmchorse and all you other typing speed demons, you're fast becasue you're already plugged into the computing world; you have to type fast to keep up. The article is more about kids who are being shut out of computing because they don't have the KB skills to get in the door yet.

      I touch-type in two different systems; my SO hunts and pecks at amazing speed. Both of us are the product of using computers for over 20 years (and, probably more importantly, MUDs and IM for over 10).

      Should young kids start being introduced to basic keyboard skills in school? Absolutely! We don't need to mass-produce 60-WPM touch-typists, but we owe it to the kids to teach the skills they need to effectively use computers.
  • by Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:19PM (#9882851) Homepage

    I dont thiunk typiong is a necasary skil ath all!

  • YES. End of story. (Score:4, Informative)

    by GerbilSoft (761537) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#9882864)
    Too many people I know don't know how to type correctly and use the hunt-and-peck method. They're amazed when I'm able to type up a 100-word paragraph in a few minutes, when it takes them up to half an hour. (I'd also classify them as AOLers, i.e. people that say "wut r u doing 2nite?" on IM services.)
    • by maxbang (598632) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:24PM (#9882966) Journal

      Sure, but if people use computers enough then they sometimes develop their own methods of typing. I guess that could be called some kind of advanced hunt and peck, but it's something. Even if it's just two fingers hunting and pecking at a blistering pace, eventually their muscles will catch up to their brains. Who says touch typing is the ultimate data entry experience?

      • Other implications (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AllenChristopher (679129) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:56PM (#9883420)
        If you learn to type via trial and error speedhacks, you have a tendency to AOL type, just as the parent said.

        That's a problem. It brings accents into the typing realm. British people AOLspeak very differently from Americans. Australians tend to just type relatively well, which is odd, but they do have their own short forms.

        The various slangs are based on whatever shorter way there is to spell the way the typist pronounces a word. Unlike the original online abbreviations such as LOL and ROFL, these new ones are not based on the typographic version of the word.

        Accents online is something we don't need. The beauty of someone typing properly is that anyone can read that text and understand it, short of something like "lift" vs. "elevator". I couldn't walk into Manchester's poorer districts and converse reliably. I now find the same is true of typing with Manchester residents.

        With Brit AOLSpeak, the first phrase you have to learn is "soz wot" which I think means "sorry, I don't follow." The second phrase is "i fink u spk 2 mingin posh u bastard" meaning "I am angry that you don't type the way I do." I'm not making that up, though I profess no great mastery of the form.

        Even within the single local group, the AOL speak tends to vary based on what kind of half-assed typing is being used. People who use three fingers on each hand choose different short forms than those who use only the indexes.

        Just as we need other web standards, we need a standard way of writing. It's not unprecedented... consider italic and cursive.

      • by FrenZon (65408) *

        Sure, but if people use computers enough then they sometimes develop their own methods of typing.

        Such as myself, I've used computers since I was 4, learnt touch-typing at school, then played a LOT of Quake, and did a lot of stuff that only required one hand on the keyboard. So as as result, my pinkies are dedicated entirely to Ctrl-Alt, Shift and arrow keys, with all letters handled by my remaining three fingers.

        As a result, my pinkies are noticably weaker than my other fingers, to the point where it fe

  • by the original m0nk (112529) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#9882867)
    absolutely necessary.

    how could you post to slashdot without knowing how to type?

    incidentally, how many of you out there are traditional touch-typists?

    i took a typing class waay back, but can't force myself to touch-type. but i still get around 80wpm using whichever finger happens to be around the key that i need to hit :)
    • by the grace of R'hllor (530051) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:22PM (#9882927)
      It's a pity one of those keys isn't "shift" every once in a while.
    • by kajoob (62237) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:03PM (#9883509)
      how could you post to slashdot without knowing how to type?

      Many people post to slashdot apparently without having the ability to read ;-)
    • by yppiz (574466) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:03PM (#9883512) Homepage
      The ability to type at all is necessary, sure, but touch-typing is not necessary unless you're a secretary. Touch typists, please read the rest before modding this as a flame - it's not.

      Consider the interaction between a person and a computer as an information processing system, analogous to a PC. In building an optimized system, one must consider the task and the likely bottlenecks. In building a gaming PC, for instance, disk speed and even CPU speed are often less important than the speed of the graphics card.

      When a person types on a computer, the bottleneck in accomplishing most tasks is not the bandwidth through the keyboard (typing speed) but the latency introduced by other elements of the system. Specifically, the speed of the user's reading comprehension and the speed of the user to make decisions and mentally transform ideas and concepts into text dominate typing IO for most tasks. The tasks where typing speed dominates, like rote transcription, involve very little need for comprehension, decision making, or complex thought - certainly much less than composing an email or a complex report.

      --Pat / zippy@cs.brandeis.edu

  • Vastly important (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PatHMV (701344) <post@patrickmartin.com> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#9882869) Homepage
    I had typing in the 8th grade, and it was the single most practical class I ever had in school, period. You can type so much faster when you learn properly. There's a closer connection between your thoughts and getting them down in the computer. If anything, the prevalence of computers is making typing skills MORE crucial, not less. Before e-mail and word processors, bosses had clerical staff to type. Now the boss himself has to be able to type, too. So everybody needs basic keyboarding skills.
    • by 0racle (667029)
      Personally I only just barely passed the typing classes I had to take, it was one of the reasons I stopped taking computer courses in high school. If you use a computer day in and day out then you'll eventually fall into a routine that works, it might not be proper home-row touch typing, but it works. I also couldn't stop my self from looking at the keyboard every once and a while for a word or two as I type, I really can't help it I have this need to look at what I'm doing. Basic typing will come to you, i
      • by Khomar (529552)

        its the driving people to 40wpm and more that I find unnesessary.

        I have to strongly disagree with this statement. Can you get around with less than 40 wpm? Yes, but you will be far less productive than someone who can type faster. This even applies when programming. I find that having the ability to type quickly allows me to get my thoughts into code quickly which contributes to shorter development times.

        In regards to the main post, I find it a crime to exchange a definable typing skill with a nebulou

    • by forgetmenot (467513) <atsjewell.onebox@com> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:06PM (#9883549) Homepage
      Vastly important? How so?

      I write plenty of emails. Hell I'm writing THIS comment, and I never learned to "type". Can you read the words on this screen?

      I guess in general, it depends upon context (as most things do). For developers, typing is not important whatsoever despite being plopped down at a keyboard all day to do one's job. Being an effective software developer is about designing good software. How fast you can type code has absolutely no relation that I can possibly think of to effective coding because good code is generally code that was well though out and designed prior to "typing" the first line. Typing faster without thinking about the design just means you make design mistakes all that much sooner. Furthermore, the keystrokes in a typical program usually resembles nothing like prose, so learning to type probably doesn't help much. I'm a developer. I'm considered a very good developer. But I never learned to type. Neither have most developers I know.

      But for bosses? Ahhh... I dunno. None of my bosses could ever type and they seemed pretty effective. Don't know how they would have gotten where they were if they weren't.

      These aren't the good ol' days where bosses dictate messages to a secretary who can type as fast as the boss could speek. And furthermore, even in the good ol'days speech went to "shorthand" usually before it went to the typewriter, so I think it's debatable how important it has been for a much longer time than the current "computer" era. Certainly more so, but I wouldn't say more so. Even with secretaries, organization skills are more important than typing skills. Being good or fast is just icing on the cake and I would think it has been since the very beginning.

  • Tiping? (Score:3, Funny)

    by fishybell (516991) <fishybell@[ ]mail.com ['hot' in gap]> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#9882870) Homepage Journal
    Whye shood we lern tiping wen most of us cant even spel?
  • by Vexler (127353) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#9882873) Journal
    When I was in high school, I tested at 96 wpm using a manual typewriter. If we continue to use keyboards instead of other HIDs (such as voice recognition, optical, etc.), then other muscles would be more important than fingers.

    Perhaps having a background as an auctioneer would finally be useful for something.
  • by Soko (17987) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#9882875) Homepage
    *resists teptation to correct typos*

    I think taking tpyeing wuold have helpeed me now, since I'm rather poor at it today. No wonder the backspage key on my keyboars is worn out.

    Soko
  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:21PM (#9882886)
    No. I typed this with body parts that you don't want to know about.
  • by dildatron (611498) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:21PM (#9882892)
    I think ideally both should be taught. Maybe have an intro course where the first half of the class is working on typing skills, and the second part of the class is on general computer skills. Most younger people I see (junior high or high schoolers) can type, but not properly. Bad technique will never yield high speed and accuracy.
  • by JLavezzo (161308) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:21PM (#9882896) Homepage
    Ask adults who use compuers a lot and can't touch type if they wish they could. I hear a lot of, "Yes, I wish I could type."

    60 WPM isn't necessary. 25 would be better than hunt-and-peck.
  • by Jens_UK (615572) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:21PM (#9882899) Journal
    it's boring and frustrating to watch someone type slowly, especially if you are helping them.
  • 10 years on the net (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geek (5680) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:22PM (#9882928) Homepage
    And I still don't type. I use like 3 fingers and hunt and peck the keyboard still. Everyone is shocked at how fast I can do it. I'm no 60wpm guy but I can hunt and peck as fast as I can speak and/or think with very good accuracy. I spend a little to much time looking at the keys but find that even without looking at them I'm accurate maybe 99% of the time. I just never saw the point in learning to type. My dad started me on computers years ago and since he's missing a couple fingers due to a table saw accident I just sorta followed his lead. It hasn't crippled me in any major way, although I am now an english major and hopeful writer so someday I might actually regret it. So maybe I'll learn, maybe I wont. If someone has a good reason for me to learn I'm all ears.
    • by aussersterne (212916) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:37PM (#9883191) Homepage
      Here's your reason to learn to touch-type: Speed.

      People who are good and very experienced at the index-fingers method often say "I can type 40wpm easy" (or in your case, 60wpm), as though that's incredibly fast.

      But computing professionals who touch-type can hit 110-130wpm (I get 110-120 on a good day). That's about twice as fast. When you're trying to hit a deadline, especially as a writer, it's a big deal to be able to type twice as fast, and that much closer to the speed of your thoughts, not to mention the fact that if you have to type for long periods of time, your accuracy won't suffer as much and your hands/arms won't get as tired if you touch-type, because there's less movement and fewer large muscles involved.

      There's also the matter of keystrokes, something that most people aren't as familiar with. The number of keystrokes per minute is at least as important for a hardcore computer user (keystroke tests use additional keys like ctrl, alt, shift, Fn, etc. and also test for number and punctuation skill). The ability to perform ctrl, alt, or Fn keystrokes in the midst of a stream of text typing without pausing and without having to look at the keyboard provides an additional serious speed increase in real-world computer use.

      And don't underestimate the drag of having to look at the keyboard, even a little. I can fill a spreadsheet at 110-120wpm, staring at a sheet of paper full of numbers the entire time, using tab and arrow keys for navigation, no pauses needed, just a continuous flow of keywork. I never once have to look at the screen and because I touch type, I know the minute I have made a typing error and can backspace and fix it, all without looking. I would guess that it would take you more than twice as long to enter a page full of numbers and formulae into a spreadsheet application, even if your measured typing speed is half of mine.
      • by Pentagram (40862) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:12PM (#9883620) Homepage
        When you're trying to hit a deadline, especially as a writer, it's a big deal to be able to type twice as fast

        At 130 wpm you could write a short novel (40k words) in 5 or 6 hours... that's not how it works. I suppose it might be different if you were writing very systematic technical documentation, but generally the bottleneck is almost always thinking time. It doesn't make much difference if you're typing at 30 or 130 wpm.

        Which is not to say touch-typing is not useful -- it's much more comfortable and means you don't have to look at the keyboard, as you say.

        Touch-typing is probably the most useful skill I taught myself before going to university. (I wasn't allowed to take "keyboard skills" at school previously - that was apparently for kids who couldn't cope with any other classes. I wonder if they think differently now).
      • by gilroy (155262)
        Words per minute and keystrokes per minute were vastly more important measures of productivity when your job consisted mostly of taking someone's document and rendering it in type, whether that document was your boss's longhand letter or your own shorthand notes of a meeting. But that meant you were a secretary. Most people typing today are not transferring it from one form to another; they are composing at the keyboard. Thought speed is going to be the bottleneck.

        Put another way: I read lots of things
  • A necessary skill? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by btsdev (695138) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:25PM (#9882974)
    Is this an obsolete skill? With handwriting and voice recognition technologies, is using a QWERTY keyboard with nine out of ten fingers something worth knowing anymore?

    Uhh... Last I checked, it's the year 2004 and we haven't stopped using keyboards. How could typing, in the furthest stretch of the imagination, be an "obsolete skill?" Let's ask this question again in a decade from now when people might actually stop using keyboards. Unless I'm horribly misinformed, voice recognition is nowhere near popular and just about 99% of the population is still using the QWERTY layout.
    • by Khomar (529552)

      I also do not see voice recognition ever replacing the keyboard. When I think about trying to do my day to day job without a keyboard, it very quickly becomes impossible (I program for a living). This is the case not just for programmers but anyone who is particular about spelling or dealing with words that are rare or easily confused (think scientific or medical terms) or when special characters are required. Voice recognition will help -- especially when dictating a slashdot post -- but there will alwa

  • FIRST POST! (Score:3, Funny)

    by underpar (792569) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:27PM (#9883012) Homepage
    Darn.. typed too slow.

    I took a one semester typing class in 6th grade.... I think the old BBSes at 2400 baud helped my typing the most.
  • by Hacksaw (3678) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:28PM (#9883025) Homepage Journal
    Good typing means wrists raised in order to get the most strength and endurance, needed with the old manual typewriters. This also means better blood flow, which prevents RSI, at least to some degree.

    It also means less time waiting for your hands to catch up with your mind, and so gets out of the way of the creative process.
  • Expected (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FuryG3 (113706) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:30PM (#9883064)
    I work for a company that does IT and Heathcare training, as well as IT consulting. Certainly with the jobs that are IT related we expect someone who can type. Even on the Healthcare and non-IT-jobs, computers are so involved in our buisiness that most employees could not do their job effectively without them.

    That said, during the hiring process, the question "do you type" is probably not asked very often. It is such a key skill that it has moved beyond being a nice thing to know, to being expected if you are to ever work in any type of office setting.
  • by LordZardoz (155141) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:31PM (#9883087)
    Learning to type properly is a very useful skill. Using a keyboard is a very efficient way to write out your thoughts.

    The subtle benefit of knowing how to type properly is that you can actually type in complete sentences, and not come accross as being retarded in an e-mail or instant message conversation. You will still make typos and spelling mistakes (as I am sure I have in this post), but the post is in recognizable english.

    when u dont use sentences nd use lots of abbreviations but not punctuation it tends to b noticd

    END COMMUNICATION
  • by rleibman (622895) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:34PM (#9883138) Homepage
    I have nothing to say to this, but it's a keyboard related topic and I must thus write something about Dvorak keyboards, in which I type and which are so much superior to Qwerty.

    Can someone tie Dvorak into the subject a bit better?
  • by Servo (9177) <dstringf@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:36PM (#9883178) Journal
    Having the ability to type accurately at a high rate is absolutely necessary. First of all, I don't know of any employer that has computers for secretaries or other "general typing" positions that have speech recognition. Traditional typewritter courses may be obsolete, but typing on computers is not.

    Think of jobs like programming where high computer skills are obviously required. Good programming requires you to be able to input code at fast speeds and accurately so that the code runs without error. Unless you work for Slashdot, producing buggy code that took you all day to input won't get you far in the business world.
  • by kstenson (229906) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:45PM (#9883292)
    I was speaking to a colleague who was running interviews for a post in his organization when he told me that part of the interview he made them do a typing test.

    His reasoning was anyone that has spent a decent amount of time in front of a computer will be a good typist - it was a good way to see who was just talking the talk without the know how.

    Pretty clever I thought :)
  • Call centres (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mikael (484) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:47PM (#9883320)
    Even for the most basic of computer jobs, the call-centre operator, touch-typing is absolutely essential. I could never understand why managers of such companies were complaining about the lack of "office skills" of interview candidates until I realised they meant touch-typing and basic computer technology. Anyone with those skills could find higher paying jobs working as help-desk operators, technicians, admins, receptionists and database operators.

    It makes me grateful to think that because my first home computer had a full qwerty keyboard, I learned touch-typing automatically. I could never understand what the big deal when so many IT teachers/ trainers made a big fuss over the fact that I could touch type (this was the first new skill that most new staff had to learn; followed by ergonomics; how to adjust the brightness of the monitor and the height of the chair).
  • I Beg to Differ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:47PM (#9883323) Homepage Journal

    I had avoided fluffy classes in high school such as driver's ed, basket weaving and, yes, typing.

    Then, as I started university I discovered that typing away on a terminal would really be more efficient if I had some QWERTY skills.

    So I specifically enrolled in a typing class just long enough to get up to about 35 wpm before stopping (and technically failing the course).

    But I got what I wanted. I needed to learn how to do keyboarding so that computer programming and creating documents on the computer was tolerable. I've hardly ever touched the IBM Selectric since the class.

    Fortunately, I've never had quite the frequent need arise to learn how to 10-key, but I've been impressed by the people who do know this skill.

    At some point I might try to become proficient with the Handi-Key chorded input; it seems like a great way for one-handed input, especially for small devices, in meetings, riding in cars, etc.

    • So I specifically enrolled in a typing class just long enough to get up to about 35 wpm before stopping (and technically failing the course).

      That's a shame. If you'd stuck to the end of the course, you might be able to type 80 WPM today, which can be very useful.

  • by ALecs (118703) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:47PM (#9883328) Homepage
    Yes - it should be taught....with

    The Typing of the Dead [ign.com]!

    As stupid as it sounds - this game is SO cool. And it showed my how badly I really can't type.
  • by Nuttles (625038) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:48PM (#9883333)
    Heck yeah, typing is essential. I would argue that it is especially essential to any programmer or network administrator. The faster and more proficient you are at typing the faster you can get your ideas into production or solve problems. Not only typing out words, but also keyboard shortcuts in programs you use everyday will make you a better programmer/network admin. The less you reach for a mouse the faster you go and the less breaks in thought a worker will have. Also, when working with other people it is a great help. For example, if I ask a coworker to help me debug some code, typing proficiency makes the process so much easier. If you can navigate as fast as you or your fellow coworker can think there is no hindrance to your work (navigating with a keyboard is much faster than with a mouse in most cases). Bad typing skills, just slows everything down. This is costly when your work environment demands results ASAP.

    Nuttles
  • Let's face it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GoClick (775762) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:50PM (#9883359)
    There's a limited amount of time to teach students how to do anything in school and even students who want to go into technical careers need to learn the other things. I'd certainly rather hire a developer who is proficient at mathematics than one who can type using all his fingers, let alone the two superfluous nubs we call pinkies.

    Lets say students have 2 hours a week of mandatory computing classes, It would be better spent teaching them how to learn to use a computer on their own, or how to research things, how to figure stuff out, how to have fun and otherwise get the most out of a computer so they'll want to learn more, rather than forcing them to pound on keys.

    If high speed typing is so damn important the school boards should switch to Dvorak and we all know it.

    Besides most jobs really require very little computer use, even good jobs and seldom do they require touch typing. Only typists, dictators and secretaries would truly benefit from spending hours learning that over say learning how a computer works.

    And as /.ers and people who make money from computers, shouldn't we do all we can to keep people away from them to keep our wages up?
  • IRC #trivia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrevorB (57780) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:18PM (#9883681) Homepage
    There's nothing that can humble you more quickly than playing trivia on an IRC channel. Knowledge is often only about 50% of what's required. Speedy and accurate typing is just as important.

    Unfortunately capitalization is not required in these games, which is why you're probably seeing a bunch of people bragging about their 110 wpm typing skills with a complete inability to capitalize a sentence properly.
  • Dvorak (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xombo (628858) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:28PM (#9883779)
    I use Dvorak for all my day-to-day typing. I wish schools would teach that since I'm in the mid hundreds now with decent acuracy. It's liberating to be able to type just as fast as I can think without having to worry about thinking slower and thereby losing potential thoughts. Starting in the schools and working outward to employers etc would surely make my life easier and typists everywhere who feel limited by QWERTY's reign.
  • easy answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LBArrettAnderson (655246) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:40PM (#9883894)
    BOTH. Teach kids how to type in 6th grade with a 1 semester course. They won't be great at it but most of them will do it correctly and they will learn from then on with experience. Once they know how to use 10 fingers (I'm including alt and stuff, so that would include using your left thumb for the left alt) they will be able to learn and develop faster speeds and accuracy without a class, but just with experience.
  • Learned 'naturally' (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ErfC (127418) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:01PM (#9884096) Homepage
    I took typing courses in school (required), but I never really got anything out of them, or at least I never felt like I did. I did the required assignment (barely) and went back to hunting and pecking. But as I continued through school, and used the computer more and more, I started using more fingers to peck with -- if my index finger of my right hand was on the T and I needed to hit the O I'd use another finger. Eventually I realized that I had naturally developed the use of Standard Typing Practices -- except I had some of the central letters switched (hitting the B with my right hand for example). I even found my hands hovering over the "Home Keys" and using the little key nipples to align by. Now I use a split keyboard most of the time, and most of my friends are surprised at how fast I can type. (I haven't checked in a while, but last time I did I was over 45 wpm; not insanely fast, but respectable, and I'm a little faster now I'm sure.)

    Of course, I use backspace a lot, so my accuracy probably isn't at 99% or anything, but I'm pretty quick with the backspace too. :)

  • by JGski (537049) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:49PM (#9884526) Journal
    Can you have a career in computers without typing, preferrably touch-typing, skills? Sure. Anyone can be a writer without good spelling or grammar also, but you're tying one arm behind your back by doing so. I could still use a computer if I didn't have both arms but it would be harder and put me at a disadvantage. Since most people have a choice...

    Thankfully my mother "forced" me to suffer a summer of typing classes between the 8th and 9th grades - all on manual Royal typewriters. It's always made using computers so much easier. It also helped my finger strength when I started piano lessons in my 30s. I believe (w/o evidence) that good typing skills can immunize you from carpal-tunnel.

    There's enormous advantage to being able to type. For me programming languages and shell commands and their standard themes pretty much "chunk" like words. This makes Unix-based OSes incredibly efficient compared to mousing everything (like Windows Sys Admin - blech!). Using Unix/Shell well goes hand-in-hand with typing.

    Being able to touch type (like I am now) is even better (BTW "touch typing" means typing without looking at the keys - and some go further and define it as not looking at your typed output either but only looking at some original source you may be copying/expositioning from - all the while hitting >30-40 wpm with high accuracy). The delay between thought and action becomes nearly non-existent as typing becomes muscle memory.

    And then there's being able to compose programs in a minute or so (e.g. in perl or C) by touch type using just 'cat > myprogram.pl' and having them compile/run the first time. You're truly getting hardcore when you get to that point! :-) That's generally the point when I feel I've truly mastered a language. I'm working on OCaml now.

    JG

  • by zoloto (586738) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:50PM (#9884541)
    With handwriting and voice recognition technologies, is using a QWERTY keyboard with nine out of ten fingers something worth knowing anymore?"

    I only have 9 fingers you insensitive clod!
  • by FFFish (7567) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @09:51PM (#9885372) Homepage
    Ever read a teenie's MSN chatter? Good christ, what a frightful and discouraging lack of writing skills. Spelling? Abysmal. Grammar? None. Coherent thoughts? As if!

    Typing quickly is the least of their problems.
  • by Shant3030 (414048) * on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @11:15PM (#9885779)
    I say it time and time again...

    The only class that I ever learned anything from, and still use the skills from, is my high school typing class.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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