Re: Sensory modalities and the possibility of semi-arbitrary additions

From: Chris Capel (
Date: Sat Nov 05 2005 - 09:20:42 MST

On 11/5/05, Russell Wallace <> wrote:
> We have lots of I/O bandwidth already

I don't know about you, but I could stand to have a lot more O
bandwidth than I do. I think a word processing-like application could
be a very effective extension of our short term memory if we could
type four or five hundred words a minute, about as fast as we think,
and if navigating the document and moving the cursor around were
equally fast. This sort of aid could really help when your short-term
memory is mainly being used for stack-like data structures, and not as
helpful when you really need a lot of facts in memory at once to be
able to synthesize them. But I think humans' poor ability to deal with
stacks are one of the main things that inhibit our efficiency. The
size of our working memory just decreases the amount of complexity we
can deal with, and layers of abstraction can help a lot with that. If
we had a better stack, I think our effective ability to focus would
increase a lot. We would stop going off on tangents, getting
sidetracked and then forgetting what one was doing, etc. Ideally, we
would be able to recover our previous working memory from any point in
the recent past within a few seconds. We could optimize our working
set by choosing which facts to discard, instead of adding in new facts
and having random ones be discarded. The closer we can get to that
ideal, the smarter we can be, I think.

I wonder how close we could get with our current tools (or tools
easily created)?

> (as long as you're not suffering from
> carpal tunnel syndrome - if you are, or have done, ask for a soft touch
> keyboard or whatever is the right phrase to use; if anyone knows what is,
> please let me know).

I use the Fingerworks Touchstream for a lot of my work. That seemed to
help my RSI a lot. Too bad they don't sell new ones any longer. I type
about the same speed on it as I do on regular keyboards, with a few
more mistakes, but few others report this level of success on it. I
adapted to it in about a week, with no affect on my normal keyboard

Long before I got the touchstream, I also took the month or so it
requires to learn Dvorak. (If you have to continue using the standard
layout in the meanwhile, though, expect to triple the time necessary
to use learn dvorak, and that's only if you faithfully practice.) My
typing speed is basically the same as before (90-100 wpm) but it's
much more comfortable, as Dvorak requires a lot less finger movement
to accomplish the same amount of typing. (Even the visual difference
is striking.)

I bet my typing speed could be increased more, but that's a different
kind of training, and I haven't seen any typing programs aimed at
increasing the speed of an already very fast typist. (Any leads,
anyone?) I imagine the highest humanly possible speed with current
keyboards and human anatomy is around the 200-220 WPM range
accomplished by the world record holder (using dvorak--it's around 180
with qwerty, IIRC). It seems (advanced) piano practice techniques
might be relevant to this.

As far as RSI goes, I believe the same techniques that allow you to
approach the limits of human ability in typing speed will require you
to solve the (extremely difficult to solve) bad habits that lead to
RSI in the first place. Many advanced pianists could affirm this.

Chris Capel

"What is it like to be a bat? What is it like to bat a bee? What is it
like to be a bee being batted? What is it like to be a batted bee?"
-- The Mind's I (Hofstadter, Dennet)

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