Touch typing is still a vital productivity skill but will that continue?


When I was a teenager my father encouraged me to learn to touch type, in those days this being on electric typewriters. His rationale was that if I was preparing my resume I wouldn’t be able to give it to the typing pool to do. Needless to say I have benefited from his encouragement greatly over many years, in more ways than preparing my resume.

This memory was sparked speaking this morning to the inspiring Alexandra Samuel for the Thriving on Overload podcast (stand by for a fantastic episode!). When asked what helped made her effective, her first response was to mention how at age 11 her mother had bribed her to do typing classes, where she cried every day. She is however now very glad she put in that effort.

Touch typing is, in fact, a foundational skill in a world where a large proportion of many people’s work output is captured via a QWERTY keyboard.

On the one hand, this means this is still a skill that is worth developing or improving, whatever your age.

But we are – finally – closer to a time when our productive efforts are not primarily captured on keyboards.

This is a time of fundamental transformation in our relationship to technology.

It is many years since I noted “I have long believed that the evolution of man-machine interfaces is at the heart of our future.”

Today voice is finally becoming capable of providing an effective interface to technology, which is a solid step forward.

Yet the majority of our interactions remain through keyboards and mice.

The mouse was an incredible innovation when Doug Engelbart first demonstrated it in 1968. That is well over five decades ago.

Gesture interfaces always appeared promising. In 2019 Facebook bought the company that built Myo, an innovative gesture control device.

This appears to have morphed into a platform for musculoskeletal models, though is not currently being applied to gestures it appears.

The question is, as new voice, gesture and potential brain interfaces emerge, will we continue to use keyboards?

Possibly the tactility of keyboards and our degree of familiarity with them means they will be with us indefinitely.

What do you think?