Obsolete conventions

Every convention has an expiry date. The qwerty keyboard is a prime example of one that is long past its time.

The qwerty keyboard was designed in 1873, for typewriters. It wasn’t optimized for speed, as one would imagine. Instead, it was designed so that the keys of the typewriter would not get stuck. It did this scattering the most common alphabets in the English language far apart, and by concentrating them on the left side – on the typists’ weaker hand so that they would slow down . The next time you type something out, observe how your left hand is more animated.

The qwerty keyboard is a convention that previous generations have handed down to us. It was useful in their era, but it no longer is. And yet, we continue to cling to it. The smartphone was revolutionary – it did away with a physical keyboard. Yet, remarkably, we still kept an obsolete keyboard layout.

We humans have the tendency to hold on to something merely because it has been gifted to us. Just like medicine, conventions can be harmful past their expiry date.

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