Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Asset Keyboard

A while ago I designed an improved keyboard layout called Asset, which attempted to maximize similarity to Qwerty. Now I'm studying the history of keyboards for a school project, and I decided to update my design based on some advice from a guy named Scott. Scott informed me some time ago that he'd been using his own personal layout since 1992, which had a nearly identical home row to Asset. I took his advice and made a couple more tweaks too.

After making the new Asset keyboard I found out about a layout called Colemak, which led me to the "Million Dollar Keyboard" competition. In fact, it's nothing of the sort--the prize is sitting at around $250. Anyway, if anybody's reading this and likes the keyboard, and if I understand the poorly-designed rules correctly, then if you join Wikidot, you can vote for my design on 2006/12/28.

Firstly, they decided to use 2-round first-past-the-post runoff voting, which probably means they know very little about voting systems. The system they chose will not accurately measure the opinions of the voters. I would've probably recommended Range Voting, although if I were designing a system myself I'd probably use something a little more elaborate than standard systems. Secondly, leaving the polls open for only one day will exclude voters who either had something else to do that day, or were forgetful. Finally, now that many submissions have been made, it is clear that the submissions come in very different flavors:
  1. Designs that change the key layout from Qwerty to something else
  2. Designs that keep Qwerty, but rearrange extended keys or add new features
  3. Ergonomic keyboard designs
It doesn't really make sense to have only one winner out of all three categories, because for the most part, the designs in different categories could be combined (although categories 2 & 3 tend to conflict or overlap). For example, one could easily imagine an Asset Editor's Keyboard in the style of the Microsoft Natural Keyboard.

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