Claire Black: Kalq minimises travel distance and maximises alternation between thumbs

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THERE are few things in this world of which we can be certain. The preposterousness of Donald Trump’s hair. The ridiculousness of Donald Trump’s tweets.

The fact that just when you think Donald Trump cannot be any more doltish, he is. And, of course, the fact that W sits between Q and E, two places before R, three before T and four before Y.

The qwerty keyboard – it is a fact of our existence, a design classic, an instantly recognisable arrangement of the alphabet allowing us to tap, prod and push our way to comprehensible written communication. I spend more hours each day with my fingertips pressed against mine than I’d care to reveal.

I didn’t know that I loved qwerty as much as I do until I learned it might be under threat. I’m not against progress or technology. I begged for a soda stream, I really wanted a pager, my first mobile phone was utterly useless because no one else I knew had one. But Kalq? I fear this may be a step too far.

That’s the name of the split screen keyboard developed by researchers at St Andrews University that’s optimised for thumbs. Yes, that’s right, thumbs. “Kalq minimises thumb travel distance and maximises alternation between thumbs,” they say. It means that when you hold your tablet in your hands you can use your opposables to bash out a text message or email up to 34 per cent faster than if you were using a qwerty. And therefore, it may just catch on.

According to Dr Per Ola Kristensson, qwerty keyboards trap their users in “suboptimal text entry interfaces” (I have a colleague who types with only his two index fingers – I can’t wait to tell him how suboptimal 
that is).

Qwerty came into existence for technical reasons – Christopher Sholes, inventor of the typewriter, wanted to prevent the most often used keys from getting jammed together, so he split them up. Yes, it’s given millions of us repetitive strain injury. Yes, it probably isn’t as fast as Kalq. But here’s the thing – qwerty is a beacon of standardisation and stability in an unstable, relentlessly changing world. Thumbs are fine digits – they let us hitchhike, they signal positivity when upturned, they’re magnificent for tucking into beltloops, but for typing? No, sorry Kalq, from me, it’s a thumbs down.

‘OUR banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons,” said Sir Mervyn King announcing that Winston Churchill’s visog will soon grace Bank of England fivers. Pity that since the British Bulldog is replacing prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, all of the citizens thus celebrated will be men. It sort of makes me think that the new blog 100percentmen.tumblr.com, which is a pictorial collection of all the old boys clubs in the world – take a look, you will be shocked – is much more than just a bit of fun. It should be compulsory viewing, and it should be hugely embarrassing.

TEARS were shed last week on the announcement that More! Magazine (including position of the fortnight) is to close. Okay, actually there was more of a spat than an outpouring of sadness, as some women on Twitter celebrated its demise while others said “show a bit of solidarity”. Soon after, though, news emerged that the celebrated feminist magazine Spare Rib was coming back. Great, I thought, until I read that at the launch party, which is to raise funds to support it, Rod Liddle and George Galloway will be serving cocktails. 
Oh dear. «

Twitter: @Scottiesays