# The Parallel Keyboard

by Bartholomew
Tags: keyboard, parallel
 P: 613 Thank you, ohwilleke, for your link to palantype. 180-200 wpm. on a system which is certainly not letter-by-letter, and which does include chording; and in operation is in fact rather similar to the method I proposed. I believe this squelches the objections of many people.
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P: 12,271
 Quote by Bartholomew Thank you, ohwilleke, for your link to palantype. 180-200 wpm. on a system which is certainly not letter-by-letter, and which does include chording; and in operation is in fact rather similar to the method I proposed. I believe this squelches the objections of many people.
No, it's not letter by letter, but there are a number of important distinctions between what you proposed and what that palantype system uses. First of all, the palantype system does not expect you to spell out entire words at all, but uses phonemes. So, you are not trying to think through the spelling of an entire word at once and hitting all the letter keys at once, but translating syllables into characters representing the sounds in those syllables. You've also proposed a keyboard with repeated letters such that it would be larger than a standard QWERTY keyboard. The palantype keyboard is quite a bit smaller. The QWERTY keyboard (or any keyboard involving serial typing) can by used by anyone without any special training, although training and practice will allow you to become faster at typing. The palantype keyboard, or any stenograph machine, requires special training, again, because even if you have a software package to generate the output, the input still requires learning another language for typing. You aren't using all the letters or spelling in the traditional way when using that. Have you ever taken a course on steno or shorthand? Even after a full semester of learning steno in high school (in the hopes of speeding up my note taking), I was never very good at it, and I was one of the better students in the class! - it just wasn't worth the effort to bother continuing to work on after that considering I wasn't aspiring to a career as a secretary or court reporter. Comparatively speaking, touch typing was much easier to learn, even back when I was learning on an actual typewriter with keys that were hard to press (I remember how much my fingers used to hurt when I was learning to type...keyboarding is much easier).

If you didn't want honest feedback, why ask?
 P: 613 I did want honest feedback. There are certainly some differences--the number of words needed to memorize is smaller on the palantype, and you would use more key presses to form most words on the palantype. But in general, the system is: you learn a new way of doing things, pressing multiple keys at once, in ways which are initially confusing. I don't think in terms of phonemes, either; it can be learned. As to the smaller keyboard... pfft, that is a difference so unimportant for the purposes this would be used...
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P: 12,271
 Quote by Bartholomew I did want honest feedback. There are certainly some differences--the number of words needed to memorize is smaller on the palantype, and you would use more key presses to form most words on the palantype. But in general, the system is: you learn a new way of doing things, pressing multiple keys at once, in ways which are initially confusing. I don't think in terms of phonemes, either; it can be learned. As to the smaller keyboard... pfft, that is a difference so unimportant for the purposes this would be used...
But you do think in terms of phonemes. That's how you speak. So, if you don't want to listen to us and are sure we're all wrong and you're right, go ahead and make the thing. Put your money where your mouth is and settle it once and for all. If you are successful with it, I'll be glad to offer a public retraction and apologize for doubting your idea.
 P: 613 You should be making the retraction now because the machine has already been made. You can argue that we think in letters as much as you can argue that we think in phonemes; the truth is we do neither without training. We speak with sounds; we do not consciously break it into phonemes, much less key combinations that correspond to phonemes.
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P: 12,271
 Quote by Bartholomew We speak with sounds; we do not consciously break it into phonemes, much less key combinations that correspond to phonemes.
A phoneme IS a sound. http://cslu.cse.ogi.edu/tutordemos/S...g/phoneme.html

And I did say that typing symbols to represent them is still going to require a lot of learning. It's not so easy as you're making it out to be. I suggest that before you embark on this, you study up on some linguistics. It will help you understand how people use language. If you're going to construct a keyboard that is easier to use than the current keyboard, then it's going to need to take into account how people utilize language. That keyboard that has already been made is NOT the same as what you've been describing, and we're discussing the limitations of your keyboard, not theirs. If you don't want to listen to critiques of the idea, don't bother asking us for comments.
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P: 2,794
 Quote by Bartholomew You should be making the retraction now because the machine has already been made.

So why the hell am I typing this on a qwerty keyboard then?!

 Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 5,197 If a human beings thought completely in pictures and had the ability to see a word in its entireity in their minds before typing it, not to mention the ability to recall almost instantaneously what the positions of all of the letters in that word were on the hypothetical parallel keyboard, thereby having their fingers in the position to plonk down on those keys (not to mention the dexterity and coordination to have each finger land on its designated key without any misses), all within a fraction of a second, THEN I would be quite enthused by this idea. However, as Moonbear has pointed out, people, in general, aren't capable of such a feat. IMO, it's much more efficient to decide what word you want to use and type the letters one by one. My 2 cents...
 P: 613 No, moonbear, a phoneme is a very particular type of sound, which in fact we do not consciously think or speak with. And I never said it would be easy; I said it would be fast and be for a specialized market of people who want to type fast. Why are you even raising that objection when you already know this? The rest of you... I can hardly believe you people. Brewnog, you are not typing on a Palantype keyboard because you are not a court typist. Cepheid, Palantype proves it is more efficient to enter words in larger chunks, pressing multiple keys at once, than letter-by-letter. That said, the original idea is a "parallel keyboard" where multiple pieces of data are entered at once for faster typing. They have been made. Wholesale criticism from all directions is not appropriate given this circumstance; things that may have been appropriate, for example, are "how about entering syllables instead of entire words, to speed learning of the system?" or... or... well, that's the only difference between my proposed system and palantype, so I guess for other suggestions you'd have had to be creative.
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P: 12,271
 Quote by Bartholomew No, moonbear, a phoneme is a very particular type of sound, which in fact we do not consciously think or speak with.
Phonemes are the sounds we use when we speak. The symbols and definitions linguists use to describe individual phonemes are complicated, but they are based on the sounds we make when we speak. Linguists study them because they are a part of how we use language. It doesn't matter if we consciously think about how we break down the words into sounds; it's a natural component of language. If we spoke in complete babble, we'd still be using phones which could be grouped into phonemes.

 And I never said it would be easy; I said it would be fast and be for a specialized market of people who want to type fast. Why are you even raising that objection when you already know this?
But that's not what you said. Until someone introduced the idea of a palantype, you were still explaining your idea as something where you'd type all the letters of the word simultaneously. Nothing was in that about using shorthand or a different set of symbols. There was also nothing to indicate this would be intended for a specialized market, such as court stenographers, until the palantype was mentioned.

Each time someone has mentioned an objection to the design you described, rather than discuss that or attempt to address that objection or get recommendations of ways around it, or even to clarify the intended market (I know I've mentioned that the objections you're getting here are that of the tech-saavy market, and that you'd hit more obstacles in the average consumer market; at that point you could have clarified that's not the market you had in mind, which would have been helpful to the discussion), you've just told us it's not really an issue and ignored the problem.

I have offered a recommendation on revising your idea based on the criticisms and your later acknowledgment that the palantype machine is something along the lines of what you were thinking about and targets the sort of market you were thinking about, and that is to study up on linguistics before designing something new. The criticism of your original design, which has been expressed by everyone who has posted in this thread, so appears to be a common issue, is that it requires typing in a way that is unnatural to the way people think. This is not going to get someone to speed up typing if they have to stop to think about every word they type. Use what linguistics has learned about how people use language to design your keyboard in a way that more naturally accomodates how we use language and it will be faster to use and easier to learn to use.
P: 1,382
 Quote by Bartholomew Thank you, ohwilleke, for your link to palantype. 180-200 wpm.
"NCRA-approved programs require students to capture a minimum of 225 words per minute."
http://www.allcriminaljusticeschools...rtreporter.php

 Quote by Bartholomew on a system which is certainly not letter-by-letter, and which does include chording; and in operation is in fact rather similar to the method I proposed.
Palantype uses shorthand and phonetic syllabication. You, differently, proposed typing all of the letters of words, as we normally do, only all at once instead of one at a time.

Shorthand is tried, proven and works great. Shorthand with automatic computer expansion later came to be called macros. This is the origin of the name of Richard Stallman's text editor, Emacs.

I use macros on my Twiddler. I can hit a one- or two- or three- or four- or five- finger chord and a programmed macro of any length matching that chord gets spit out into the computer. If you are going to memorize chords, why memorize long ones, and especially, why memorize long ones that require you to recall the exact spelling of a given word in less than one third of a second? As you said, the chord should just pop into your head and your fingers should chord it just by thinking of the word. This is what it is like to chord macros on a Twiddler. I can think of the words and my fingers automatically, ultra-rapidly, and precisely chord them without any thought to how they are spelled (I have the most common words I use programmed into my Twiddler so I can use them this way; otherwise I spell out my twiddled words, or I use macros for common word beginnings and endings; however, if I wanted to I could program my Twiddler to be a one-handed Palantype machine and easily exceed 225 WPM twiddling shorthand phonetic syllables and being able to completely ignore spelling - and a Perl script might be written to automatically translate this Palantype shorthand into English).

Why does your chording system insist on including irrelevant letters that make your chords phenomenally large and complicated?
P: 613
Moonbear, technically the sounds we use when we speak are amplitude variations in air pressure waves. Do we think in terms of amplitude variations in air pressure waves?

Point is, you can break down the sounds all you want for your theory, but nobody actually does that when they speak or think, unless they have been trained in a system such as Palantype.

 Quote by Moonbear But that's not what you said. Until someone introduced the idea of a palantype, you were still explaining your idea as something where you'd type all the letters of the word simultaneously. Nothing was in that about using shorthand or a different set of symbols. There was also nothing to indicate this would be intended for a specialized market, such as court stenographers, until the palantype was mentioned.
I quote from myself, post #19 in this thread:
 Quote by Bartholomew This would obviously only be for people who need or want to type fast. Secretaries, for example, might get a lot of use out of it, and people might use it for internet chat rooms. Scientists might not care; authors might like it. It wouldn't change anyone's life but it could be nice for a lot of people.
Also, from post #25 in this thread:
 Quote by Bartholomew This could never be a mass-market product, but authors might pay a few thousand dollars for a customized, ultra-fast keyboard.
What do you say to that?

 Quote by Moonbear Each time someone has mentioned an objection to the design you described,
The objections have ranged from the silly ("oh no, the average rate of words in a song is well below 100 wpm, you can't possibly type that fast"--paraphrase of Omagdon) to the uninformed (brewnog's last comment). Enough.

And the whole point of any machine shorthand system (which my idea has been from the beginning, whether recognized as such or not) is, you do not think about what you type if you have already memorized how to do it.
P: 613
 Quote by hitssquad "NCRA-approved programs require students to capture a minimum of 225 words per minute." http://www.allcriminaljusticeschools...rtreporter.php
Yeah, the Phoenix system claims speeds of 240 wpm.

 Quote by hitssquad Palantype uses shorthand and phonetic syllabication. You, differently, proposed typing all of the letters of words, as we normally do, only all at once instead of one at a time.
My system is probably not quite as good as the current methods of machine shorthand. But it's not very different, and (speculatively) might out-perform machine shorthand for typing from a manuscript, where you have letters in front of you instead of phonemes. You'd simply learn letter groups and the keys associated with them, instead of syllables and the keys associated with them.

You could get to memorize them as quickly as syllables, particularly if you're typing from a text which would jog your memory. The disadvantage is that there are more common syllables than common letter groups.

And no, my system doesn't insist on including extraneous letters; that's the way I formulated it, but nobody suggested cutting down on the letters to be used. It would be somewhat harder to learn if you cut out extraneous letters (because you lose the direct correspondence between word and keys), though in the end faster.
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 Quote by Bartholomew Moonbear, technically the sounds we use when we speak are amplitude variations in air pressure waves. Do we think in terms of amplitude variations in air pressure waves?
No, that's not how we think, and has nothing to do with my point about phonemes, which is how we think about words. I say sounds and I hear sounds that have meaning to me. Phonemes are collections of sounds that convey meaning.

 Point is, you can break down the sounds all you want for your theory, but nobody actually does that when they speak or think, unless they have been trained in a system such as Palantype.
No, I've never been trained in palantype, but do know what sounds I hear when I'm speaking. Even when I'm typing, I'm "hearing" the words in my head. Spelling approximates sounds, but not as precisely as phonemes do.

I quote from myself, post #19 in this thread:
 This would obviously only be for people who need or want to type fast. Secretaries, for example, might get a lot of use out of it, and people might use it for internet chat rooms. Scientists might not care; authors might like it. It wouldn't change anyone's life but it could be nice for a lot of people.
Right, your example included things like people using it for internet chat rooms. That hardly sounded like you were considering it to be something for only a specially trained group of people. You also said "it could be nice for lot of people. I suppose my interpretation of "a lot" is different than yours, and here we run into trouble.

 And the whole point of any machine shorthand system (which my idea has been from the beginning, whether recognized as such or not) is, you do not think about what you type if you have already memorized how to do it.
One can memorize a lot of things, but it doesn't mean it will work when presented with a completely unfamiliar text to type. This is the proof you'll need to show if you want to show your keyboard is feasible. Whatever you come up with, as you're working on it, that's going to be the real test. It doesn't matter if you can practice until you're able to type all the words in your favorite song as they're being sung, you'll need to be able to type just as fast as someone dictates a letter you've never heard before, or presents you with a manuscript you've never read before, or when presented with words you've never heard of before. For example, in court, when someone is giving expert testimony and uses a technical term, the court reporter doesn't need to know how to spell it or know what it means, s/he can simply type the sounds s/he hears and read it back according to sounds. If you want this to even be useful to a niche market of court reporters and secretaries, you'll need to account for this. This is something that is also a limitation of the current way of typing on a QWERTY keyboard, because the secretary still needs to know how to spell the word, but has been addressed by the phoneme approach of the palantype. If your idea is going to take over that niche market, then it's going to have to do something even better than what the palantype does. If that's what you have in mind, then work on improving upon that rather than improving upon the QWERTY keyboard.
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P: 12,271
 Quote by Bartholomew And no, my system doesn't insist on including extraneous letters; that's the way I formulated it, but nobody suggested cutting down on the letters to be used.
In post #30, I stated:
 Quote by Moonbear Keep in mind I don't want to make my laptop any larger than it is by adding more keys to the keyboard, so the same general shape and size or smaller is desired.
Your response in post #31, was:

 Quote by Bartholomew The keyboard would be significantly larger than usual. Ye of little faith in the learning powers of the human mind... How did any of you ever learn to ride a bicycle? Ludicrous, that one could balance on two rolling wheels.
Your response to my comment that the keyboard should be the same size or smaller, rather than being taken into consideration, was rejected as lacking faith. I don't lack faith in the powers of the mind, I lack faith in a "significantly larger" keyboard finding any market, other than maybe among collectors of odd inventions. I'm quite aware of the limitations of the human mind. I'm no expert in linguistics, which is why I've repeatedly suggested you learn more about it, because I can't teach it to you, but I do have some familiarity with the field and how we develop and process language from a neurological perspective. So, when you met the first comment about keeping the keyboard size small with such incredulity, why would anyone else bother to suggest ways to make it smaller. You didn't communicate that you were open to that suggestion, quite the opposite.
P: 1,382
 Quote by Bartholomew My system ... might out-perform machine shorthand for typing from a manuscript, where you have letters in front of you instead of phonemes.
Why, in the first place, would you type from a manuscript instead of scanning it?

 You'd simply learn letter groups and the keys associated with them
This is what we already do with current chording keyboards. (A major difference is that current chording keyboards do not have the literal one-for-one correspondence between keys and letters that your keyboard has, but you do not seem to have explained why that might be important other than to effect user-friendliness for newbies.) You can program thousands of common-letter-combination macros for dual-handed chording keyboards, and you can reach them without changing your hand position since so few keys are needed (with three keys per finger, and counting no-key-press as a possible letter in a chord, there are four possible letters per finger per chord and therefore with eight fingers a total of $4^8-1=65535$ possible chords — all on a keyboard a tiny fraction of the size of a typical laptop keyboard).
 P: 613 Moonbear, I think it should be clear by now that YOU would not be part of the target demographic for this product. Therefore... I don't care what you want in a keyboard. The keyboard would be large enough to include all the letters, plus duplicates of those that commonly appear in duplicate. If you have a great idea that would make it smaller, please speak up; otherwise stop making demands about a product you'd never be part of the demographic for. Also, I quite rightly supposed that you would offer no apology for assuming the product to be for general use when early in the discussion I stated twice that it would not be. hitssquad: A handwritten manuscript would not scan well, so it would be more efficient to type it rather than scan it (if you don't want to have to work with an entire image). Even nowadays there are still typing services that you can send your papers into and they will type them up. You raise a good point in your second paragraph; the essential difference between my proposed keyboard and a standard set of macros is that the "macros" on mine would be easier to learn and probably take longer to use (due to requiring more fingers in motion at a time), once fully learned. I don't know the respective weights of the advantage and the disadvantage.
 P: 631 For good typists, the limiting factor in typing from handwritten manuscripts is not typing speed, it is the speed with which you can read the handwriting. It is rarely possible to read handwritten manuscripts faster than one can speak. The cutting edge in technology now, by the way, is in skipping the transcriber all together and having the computer take the dictation itself. It is close, but not quite there now. Also, while being able to type a couple hundred words a minute has value to a court reporter, few court reporters have any need to type much faster. Getting input at 300-400 words per minute is rare. If there was a demand, someone might come up with a way to do it. But, in the absence of demand, there is no reason to make the technology any better than it is. Quite frankly, even in court, it is becoming far more common to use tape recorders instead of a court reporter, since it is much, much cheaper.

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