Is Touch-Typing an Obsolete Skill?

December 16th, 2010 206 Comments

I can touch type.

If you don’t know what I mean, you probably don’t touch type, and if you don’t touch type, you hunt-and-peck.

I didn’t make up the terms so don’t get mad at me if you don’t like them. I’ve seen impossibly fast hunt-and-peck typing on a keyboard, and perhaps the greatest hnp typists are texters, whose thumbs can fly across their keypads.

I would compare their words-per-minute output, but as we all know, texting involves “words” that would make my typing instructor lulz.

Photo by Lainey Powell from Flickr used under Creative Commons

Touch-typing is a lost skill, and I wonder why, given its utility to people like me who use a keyboard all the live-long day. I’ve met developers who pound out millions of characters each week without touch-typing. It seems horribly inefficient.

Didn’t they ever stop to wonder why the “F” and “J” keys have nubbies on them?

It would seem odd that touch-typing classes have not become a prerequisite of computer science courses, if only to help the students become more productive. I don’t know if they are, but somehow I doubt it.


Because through texting and computers at home, children are exposed to keyboards much earlier now, and it’s supremely tough to break ingrained habits like hnp typing. So what’s the point of a touch-typing class?

In addition, I doubt anyone finds real utility in a typing class now, since the touch-typing hallmark statistic of words-per-minute no longer seems valid or useful to getting a job.

The benefits of learning to touch-type vs. hnp typing are too hard to quantify, and thus, “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy yellow dog” is now just a sentence no one uses anymore.

So, am I right? Can anyone touch-type anymore?

Find the comments.

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206 Responses to “Is Touch-Typing an Obsolete Skill?”

  1. Jimmothy Says:

    It’s worth it to take the time to touch-type guys. The only question is, will the keyboard ever become obsolete? I’m already using talk to text on my phone. Maybe that’s a discussion for another blog.

    I took typing class in Middle School and used a lot of AIM & AOL chat rooms at the time.

    Your score: 546 CPM (that is 109 WPM)

    Your score beats or equals 99.45% of all.

    Congratulations! You typed all 99 words correctly!

    I advise you to take a 2 minute break now.

  2. Andrew Borne Says:

    A skill is driven by the needs of the environment or the society. Most of us cannot start a fire without matches because we just don’t need that to survive. Look back 200 years ago and I’m sure lots of people, including children, could do it.

    So the question is, do we need touch typing in the future? No. Unless you have business writing lengthy essays or books, no you don’t. While it’s true many of us write something everyday, it’s usually in short bursts such as texting or post updates. Also, consider speech to text technology. Just as the typewriter reduced the need to write lengthy letters by longhand, with a quill, so it is that typewriters have been replaced with word processing and other forms of communication.

  3. P Says:

    I don’t think it’s about “needing it”, Andrew Borne, it’s about whether you can be better at what you do if you can. I got by ok without it for 25 years, but I can do the same stuff better now since I learned to touch type.

    Some people don’t benefit from it, some do. Same as it was 50 years ago before word processing. The point is, it’s not obsolete.

  4. Doreen Says:

    That’s true P in your reply to Andrew Borne. And Andrew, there are heaps of people who do actually type long articles for their work or personal needs.

    Some of us are typing up our life stories or notes for courses and students for their studies and all the assignments that have to be handed in typed.

    Maybe we won’t type in the future but a long time from now. You want to read the comments I get from people who have lost their jobs because they haven’t got good enough typing skills and are pleased to find a good touch typing course to help them.

  5. Ben Says:

    I don’t think touch typing is a lost skill at all. As someone who learned how to touch type as adult I can attest to how difficult it is to survive a a job in an office setting without the ability to touch type.

  6. Doreen Says:

    That is interesting to hear Ben and I would be interested to know which country you are working in. In New Zealand there are still many jobs which require correctly typed work and many people in management are now wanting to type themselves.

    Also, students MUST hand in their assignments for any subject in a correctly set out, accurately typed assignment.

    However, I have rung around the secondary schools and found that very few are actually offering a typing course for their students.

    At the same time I’m receiving messages from around the world from teachers wanting a good touch typing course for their student.

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