Sep 21, 2009

On typing

yes, typing. (:

This one is going to be easy, and it's going to be short. And, since I can type (hehe), it'll only take me 5 minutes to write.

This is not an article about ultrarunning. Sorry. Lots of stuff in the queue on that front, I just have to "write" it, which is different than typing it. This note, which is about typing, is already written. It's in my head. I just have to type it.

Allow me to back up. An acquaintance of mine, Dane Rauschenberg(met him at a race two weeks ago, nice guy), posted a link to an article on facebook about how some school in West Virginia doesn't teach students cursive anymore, except for one year, third grade, such that by the time the kid gets to the eight grade they don't know cursive and can't sign their name. That was the article's anecdote, and it's point was that kids aren't taught cursive anymore, isn't that horrible.

Immediately the pragmatist in me remembered all the years learning cursive I had in grade school and the single semester I had in typing my entire time in school, which I believe was in the 8th grade, ironically enough.

Then, I remembered one of my favorite programming articles of all time, written by Steve Yegge, formerly of Amazon, now of Google. The blog post, intended for software programmers but applicable to all, is called "Programming's Dirtiest Little Secret" (warning - atrociously horrible & mean four-letter words) and is just riddled with epic truths and amusing anecdotes and wonderful quotes.

Wonderful quotes like this:
Touch typists can spot an illtyperate programmer from a mile away. They don't even have to be in the same room.
Here's the deal: everyone is laughing at you. Or if they're your close friend, they're just pitying you. Because you suck. If you really think refactoring tools are a substitute for typing, it's like you're telling us that it's OK for you to saw your legs off because you have a car. We're not fucking buying it.
Hell, if you're having trouble, just email me, and I'll give you a personalized pep talk. I can afford it. I type pretty fast. Plus your email will be really short.
It's long, but well well well worth your time to read. After you've read this, of course. I'll do you a favor and make this short, even though I don't have to. I can type, after all.

My whole point in writing this is this: writing letters to friends in cursive is an awesome ability to have, right up there with writing letters to friends in calligraphy. Every single one of us is sentimental to a degree and we love all that squishy stuff. It makes us feel warm in our hearts. On the other hand, typing is a cold, hard medium that doesn't make us feel warm at all. It makes us feel cold. That would be the opposite of warm.

But.. let me quote our friend Steve Yegge again:
If you are a programmer, or an IT professional working with computers in any capacity, you need to learn to type! I don't know how to put it any more clearly than that. If you refuse to take the time, then you're... you're... an adjective interjection adjective noun, exclamation.
I would extend that to say ANYONE (not just IT professionals) who'd work with computers in any capacity, needs to learn to type. That would include every eight grader in this country. Sorry, sentiment. If it's between warm fuzzy cursive and cold hard typing, well, perhaps there's an after-school program for cursive. It's right after the calligraphy after-school program.

Told you I was going to keep this short. Well, short relative to Yegge's posts anyway. You should still read this one. It's excellent.

This post has been influenced by Steve Yegge. To be fair, it took me longer than 5 minutes to type this. It actually took me 13 on a Saturday night (blogger will publish this on Monday), including proofreading (poorly) & collecting the quotes.

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time


  1. funny. I like the his comment about football coaches with big hands. :)
    I agree with you writing cursive will be a lost art, like caligraphy. Everyone needs to learn how to type, and not hunt & peck method!
    I'm do about 60 wpm. how fast do you type?

  2. Hi Katie,

    I actually don't know how fast I type in terms of words per minute. But if it's any help, about once per month, some random person will be at my desk while I'm typing, and make a comment to the effect of, "Holy crap you're a fast typer..."

  3. Aww. I was "nice" back then!