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Author Topic: 57  (Read 5242 times)
sledgehammer
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57
« on: January 06, 2011, 11:11:40 pm »

57 words a minute.  What is the point?  A computer communicates.  At how many words a minute?  In 1873, Mark Twain bought a writing machine that, with a trained operator, could do 57 words a minute.  According to Wikipedia, that is roughly what we are doing now. So where's the progress?  There is a difference.  His writing machine was in all caps.  It could not pdf to someone else.  A copy had to be mailed.  Perhaps that is progress. I don't know.  Depressing.  Shakespeare, today's NY Times.  Handwriting.  10 words a minute.  Go figure.

We have one brain and it can only accept so much.  As it gets easier for others to supply input to our brains, we still have only one of them.  Millions of folks now try to access our brains.  But it still tops out at 57 words a minute.  And Mark had books.  Which have no advertisements.  So he got more content into his brain then we do?  125 years ago?
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roarde
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2011, 04:58:42 pm »

Due probably to my own tiredness, I find your thoughts interesting but unfortunately indigestible. Please clarify, as it seems a good subject.

Perhaps answering this question would help me: What progress would you like to see in this context?
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Robert
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2011, 03:58:08 am »

Quote
A computer communicates.  At how many words a minute?
That depends on the kind of word, the kind of computer, and with what it communicates, how it is connected to that and how it communicates  Grin.

Quote
In 1873, Mark Twain bought a writing machine that, with a trained operator, could do 57 words a minute.  According to Wikipedia, that is roughly what we are doing now. So where's the progress?


- Ever tried fixing an typo on a typewriter? That will bring down the average considerably
- Spell checking (though this concept still seems alien to a huge group of people  Undecided)
- easy reuse of work done previously (copy/paste)
- easy collaboration: you can send your document to someone else and he/she can edit it.
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sledgehammer
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2011, 01:58:41 pm »

Good comments.  I have read and reread my post and agree with roarde, except that the connection between verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc seems proper.  I wonder sometimes about progress. As George Oshawa said, "everything that has a front has a back."  Something like that.  People in China, a dictatorship, seem freer than we.  I have heard that they can smoke, ride without helmets, seatbelts, etc. Balance that against our right to seek filth in books, movies, etc.  Our modern typesetting machines make it easy to "clean up" Huck Finn cause some school districts have banned the original. So we can fix typos, but that's not all we can do.  We can change meaning and, using spell check, turn Nigger Jim into a slave. We are making progress?  What is progress?  If a general goal is to have a pleasant life, are we better off than the folks in Mark's day?
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roarde
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2011, 02:42:43 pm »

A large portion of Twain's later life and of his fortune was siphoned away by his quest for a compositing machine which would allow an author to directly edit, compose (in the printing sense), typeset, and publish his own work. Among other reasons, he was tired of his work being mangled by junior editors, etc. He commented often on this.

We have better tools, indeed surpassing his desire. I can't find a reference to it now, but Harlan Ellison expressed a wish for type that would fly, bleed, crawl, and be beside itself; this as late as the early 70's. Now we have it.

So where are the authors, other artists, other visionaries to match the previous centuries' ability, foresight, and experience to these wonderful modern tools?

Chances are, there's another Mark Twain or at least another Harlan Ellison out there. One trouble is, the kind of creativity we seek is often engendered in part by poverty or other hard circumstances. Twain would be much harder to find these days. Someone with a background equivalent to his early years will have difficulty producing, much less successfully submitting, their work; "they're not qualified".

And self-publishing? Electronic texts are the way to go, but how likely is it that the experience and (lack of) funds that contribute to keen insight will match the experience and funds needed to successfully e-publish and promote a popular work? "Unlikely" doesn't begin to describe it.

Part of the cure is simply digging, digging, digging, and blasting out those beautiful nuggets that are there somewhere, somewhere. But another part is to make the tools needed for individuals to have impact more widely available and much easier to use. Twain could grasp Open Office Writer, html, or at least ReST. I not only doubt but outright deny that he would abide them.

Some of the problem is being solved here. VL goes a long way towards making the existing tools available economically, as you've helped demonstrate, sledgehammer. On the more personal side of the solution, remember that the true creations are not necessarily accessible by web. One must make actual human contact, again and again, to find them. Mea Culpa.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2011, 02:56:45 pm by roarde » Logged

Robert
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pierce.jason
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 11:34:55 pm »

The problem is, we are still all being trained on QWERTY layouts.

In M. Twain's time, he too was likely on a QWERTY layout. The difference is, he was on that horrible layout due to necessity. Mechanical-arm typewriters would get bound up when users typed too fast, so QWERTY was invented. With the expressed goal being to place oft-used keys far apart in-order to deliberately slow down the user.

What was used before QWERTY, that caused key-binding problems? Why of course... the ever geeky DVORAK layout. Not only does it save time in typing, but it has other advantages such as health! Using the DVORAK layout, for users who type a lot, can substantially reduce repetitive stress syndrome and risks of carpal tunnel syndrome.

pierce.jason
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pierce.jason
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sledgehammer
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2011, 10:39:19 pm »

Quote
What we lack is a tool to sort through what we enjoy and don't enjoy (except our brains of course).
(baitman)

Twain, Churchill and Rachmaninoff would be in jail today, unless they changed their smoking habits. And if they did not have the peace of mind that accompanied their habit, would they have produced as much?  As well? Perhaps it is our smoking laws, our desire to jail every minority, that is wasting our best minds.
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roarde
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2011, 09:50:11 pm »

Come to think of it, how fast can most people "type" on a cell phone? a Blackberry, iPhone, Android?

Stereotypically, historically, and in many cases actually, writers carried small notebooks. Somewhat more modern writers have found voice recorders helpful, but not really a replacement.

So, which is faster and handier for "typing": a phone or a scrap of paper?
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Robert
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retired1af
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2011, 05:42:25 pm »

If you are arguing that we have not progressed in speed of typing since Mark Twain's time, I wholeheartedly disagree. The average person can probably type 57 words a minute. Almost everyone in America can type proficiently as opposed to 125 years earlier when only trained typists could type that fast. 

Yep.. Last typing test I took came out at 145 wpm.
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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2011, 11:31:38 am »

If you are arguing that we have not progressed in speed of typing since Mark Twain's time, I wholeheartedly disagree. The average person can probably type 57 words a minute. Almost everyone in America can type proficiently as opposed to 125 years earlier when only trained typists could type that fast. 

Yep.. Last typing test I took came out at 145 wpm.
And how much of that was spelled correct?...;-)
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retired1af
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2011, 05:18:22 pm »

No errors.

Accuracy counted in my early military days. Especially when stuff was being typed and sent on ASR-28 Teletype machines. ;-)

Good to see you hanging around again. Smiley
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Dude In The Snappy Hat


« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2011, 11:56:03 am »

Good to see you hanging around again. Smiley

Thanks.
I'll plan on getting "Back into the groove" again; I've been out of the loop so long, I forgot a lot of stuff. Undecided
So; restart a few paces back.  Wink
May take a while though...
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Joe1962
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« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2011, 03:15:25 pm »

Nice to have you back, SuSE-Refugee... Grin
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Colonel Panic
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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2011, 11:42:49 pm »

I'm enjoying this thread, it's a meditation on the nature of progress generally. 100 wpm? 145 wpm? Wow. I can just about manage 20 wpm with a following wind Smiley

I'm familiar with Ohsawa (the founder of Macrobiotics, which is based on applying Taioist principles to diet), but I have to admit I find that principle - The Bigger The Front, The Bigger The Back - depressing. If that were true, there'd be no point in trying to do anything to improve our lot in the world - science, medicine, overcoming injustice in the world etc. But am I wise enough to say it's wrong? No. Those old Taoists knew a lot.
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SuSE-Refugee
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Dude In The Snappy Hat


« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2011, 10:00:17 am »

Nice to have you back, SuSE-Refugee... Grin
Thanks.
I should get myself a new avatar, though; That 'stache has gone the way of the dodo....
(But the hat stayed...Wink )
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