Like many people, the computer has become an extension of me, for better or for worse. The first thing people use when they start with computers is the keyboard. I started with typing lessons in middle school. Like scales in music, it is the foundation of utilizing the power of computers. The keyboard has lots of buttons and is what creates what most of what is online and much of what is created for offline. Your ergonomic, multi-function laser mouse cannot create great literary works or code for solving complex biological systems.
A couple programs I have been using lately in my personal/academic life are aimed at utilizing the potential of the keyboard over the slowness and crudeness of a mouse: vim text editor for code, vimperator for web browsing (vim for the browser), and screen for command line stuff. While using my new 23″ widescreen monitor to browse the internet I was thinking about how I wished I could have a “screen” style experience in Firefox to utilize the real estate of my new monitor. The “screen” program allows the user to split-up a single terminal window into multiple terminals (think Windows 7 feature to split documents side-by-side but within the same program) and have other terminals not always shown but runnning (think tabs in a web browser). Most web pages have become fixed width and thus have lots of white space on each side of the main body. Two separate browser windows could be set next to each other but there is a fluidness about using screen to quickly switch between terminal instances.
The browser may not be well suited for this type of environment but I could see it fitting well within the behavior of tabs and Firefox’s Panorama feature. The thing I am hoping to illustrate is the power of the keyboard for browsing and utilizing the computer has seen a decline and we need to think about more ways to reincorporate it to benefit us. At the very least, all of our keyboarding teachers would appreciate us trying to re-hone our typing skills. I told my wife the other day “I should send a thank you to my typing teachers because typing skills are so central to my education and livelihood and at the same time an apology for my poor form.”
Mrs. Barta: “Pick up those wrists!”