3.227 noisy keyboards (laptops) (56)

Sat, 8 Jul 89 16:54:35 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 227. Saturday, 8 Jul 1989.

Date: Thu, 06 Jul 89 23:55:04 EDT
From: "Kenneth B. Steele" <KSTEELE@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Noisy Keyboards & Libraries

Those of us accustomed to composing at the typewriter keyboard have
quickly embraced the computer as a boon for research, note-taking, and
writing. Unless libraries wish their users to borrow all the works they
find of use in order to take notes in the privacy of their own homes
(something neither feasible nor desirable, I should think), some form of
compromise must be found to keep reading and typing together in the
libraries. (And I don't believe it should be necessary to relegate
computer users to "typing carrels" to avoid disturbing others, either --
typewriters combined keyboard and printer, after all, and no-one is
suggesting hard copy or sheet feeders in the reading room.)

My first point is not likely to win many advocates, but I have been
led to understand, by speed-reading experts, that a manageable level of
background noise actually IMPROVES reading comprehension, because it
drives the mind from aural to visual reading. We are indeed oblivious
to a considerable amount of background noise already, and I agree with
those who claim that it would be possible to get used to keyboards in
the library -- but then I am also one who has become accustomed to
living near one of the noisiest street corners in Canada.

My second point, however, is that no-one should HAVE to get used
to keyboard noise. Computer users have demonstrated a phenomenal lust
for clattering keys -- perhaps so that they can HEAR how hard they're
working. Keyboard manufacturers have expended enormous energy
attempting to duplicate the "IBM tactile feel" [sic], because people
covet keyboard percussion even more than 256 colours as an indicator of
computing power.

I myself can't preach too much on this point, because it was not so
long ago that I bought a second keyboard for my PCjr (which has long
since been put out to pasture), just because the original "chicklet"
keyboard was spongy and, above all, SILENT. It is important to observe,
however, that this spongy, silent keyboard WORKED -- and it was not
particularly awkward or error-prone, once familiar. Surely there MUST
be a laptop computer out there which has a similar keyboard

As for the incessant beeping of spell-checkers -- no self-respecting
humanist would want to be seen using one of those in public, anyway,
now would s/he?

Ken Steele (KSTEELE@utorepas)