If I remember correctly, Jared Diamond talked a bit about the Dvorak keyboard in his Pulitzer Prize–winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel.  Apparently, someone experienced with typing on a Dvorak keyboard can type up to twice as fast as someone who’s just as experienced with a QWERTY keyboard.  Although it would take a couple years to really master it—especially for those of us who have been typing on QWERTY keyboards for over twenty years—I wonder how much time a person could save over their lifetime by making the switch.
Here’s the layout for the Dvorak keyboard for anyone who’s curious:
And here’s the preferred pronunciation of Dvorak:
I just assumed it was pronounced the same way as the composer Antonin Dvorák’s name is pronounced, but apparently the Dvorak family prefers the American pronunciation, without the zh sound.  (I would imagine their parents and grandparents just got tired of correcting the nine out of ten Americans who mispronounced it, and they eventually just gave up: “Fine, it’s pronounced d-VOR-ak.  Whatever.  Wankers.”)

Erik Aronesty <erik@zoneedit.com> wrote:
My letter was published in Metro. The article was about Qwerty keyboards. People use the example of a Qwerty keyboard to show how inferior products become entrenched, and how capitalist systems fail to find optimal solutions. The journalist tried out a Dvorak and, since he didn't think it was any good, said that he “proved” that free markets were fine.

------Original Message------
To: Metro newspaper
Sent: Nov 29, 2004 6:00 AM
Subject: QWERTY Foolishness

This article illustrates clearly the inability of consumers, and Ben Sommer, to make intelligent decisions due to market dominance. It takes years to learn to type comfortably on either a Qwerty or Dvorak keyboard. It's easier to use the keyboard you're familiar with. Ben Sommer's investigation is entirely nonscientific, irrational and is typical of poor journalism.

People, like Ben, grow accustomed to inferior and ineffective products, and be thereby unable to rationally evaluate competing products.

The concept of a “free market” is an attractive myth. All markets, including government-regulated, anarchic, and so-called “free” ones, will, provably, produce popular, entrenched products that are far from optimal.

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