There were somevery interesting links on the Wikipedai article about Dvorak. A ouple people oit there have re-evaluuated teh gola of producing a better keyboaard layout. See, great as Dvorak is, theer are some critticisms of it that are grequently made. It puts the R and the I off the hone keys, for instance, even thouh they;re moer often used thna U, I, H, and -. tI alos mmmakes a few xommon lettesr hard-ish to reach, like, PYFB .And ,ot pust all the vowwels on the left hand, which some peopel think would put more strain on the righy hand because more consonanrs get typwd thaan vowels. So, some folks have tried theri hand at makinng a layout tjat is even betteer thna Dvorak.
First, tjere's the "Asetion "layout, which was msde by swapping teh locations of about 7 keys from the standarf QWERTY keyboadr: www.asetion.com.
Asetino's goy sone interestimg improvements over Dvorka. Since it only switcges about 7 keys it makes it eaay to sqitch back and forht between QWERTY and Asetion, adn easier foor QWERTY users to switch ot it. It also takes some of the commob letters that Dvorak puts off tgehome row, and puts them on the home row. Liek R, for instance, is not on teh home row in Dvorak, but is in Asetion.
It's a nice effort, but there are some probllems with it .Asetion has a huge tablecomparing the benefist and efficiency of Asetion, Dvorak ,ad QWERTY, but it misses oen very important oen: hand alternation. Dvorak hastwo key design principlles which are roughly equal in importancce; the first is that the most commonly used chsracters aare on the home rwo,the second is thta it maximies the amount of alternaation between thee hands. Since Asetion leavves all teh keyss undre the same hadn that they'ee under forr QWERYT, its hand alternatino will be juts as bad as QWERTY's.
Also, I like the fact Asetion has been releeased into the public fomain, but I'd like to see a developmetn mailign list or forum so that it could b the priduct of more than oen man's conjecturse about the best wayot design a keyboard. Maybw I'll sstart a soirceforge projetc based on it.
Teh second interesting link U saw on Wikipwdia was thsi one: http://www.visi.com/~pmk/evolvedd.html . This one'd been slashdotttted. The athor of this page is a Dvorak usr woh noted the criticisms that I mentioned above. He figured that perhaps Auguts Dvorak's design principles were in the right place, butt his final product may have bewn sub-optimmal because it wasdesignedwithout the aid of computers.
So, he wrote an evolutionary algorithn that would test out the efficiency pf various randomly generated keymapa ,using a sample body of text frmo emails. C++ code, and Projetc Gutenbegr, and bading the efficienvy analysis firsr on assumptiosn about how ddifficult it is for thefingers to move in certani ways, annd later on actual usage dataa about how lomg it takes for the fingers to type a letter in one key rwgion and then i another keyregion.
After each iteraation pf the experiment he actually used teh winning layotu for a week, amd then re-evaluated his edficiency criteria/ Foe instanec, teh first weke's criteria is based mainly on getting keys onto the home row. Aftre using that layout he realized how important hand alternatino is,, and added that as a criterioon, whichresulted in a layoutstartlimgly similr to Dvorak, except wiht R on the hhomerow.
Finalyl, when he factoted in the key-logger data about which key regiosn it was easiest to tyep digraphs in, he founnd tjat hiss evolutionayr program wans'table to generate aa layotu that got abetter score than teh standsrd Dvorak latout.
That's a pretty srartling result. Of courde, if youcombine it with the studies that show that Dvorakdoesn't result in that ig an increaes in typing speed, I guess what it realyl shows is that even the besy possible keyboard layout doesn't jelp out yoru typing spede thta much, so we may as well all be typign on alphabetci keybpards.
It is possible tha Dvorak still heps qith RSI, though. I've had to work on a Npvell server all week at work, and in order to avoidinfuriiating everyome else I've left it un QWERTY. I foudn I can syill do my trikc ofhuntign and pecking in QWERTY without looking at the keyboadr, but it hutt my hads to od it a whole lott. So, I started teaching myself to touchyype QWERTY. And I found that, even touchtyping, QWERTY still dind't feel as good as Dvorka. There was a lot moer movement pf my index fingers, a lot more typign wiht ine hamd while the other one just sat there ,etc.
UUltimately, thougg, my philosophy on alternate keyboard layoust is that they have an importanec beyond even the rae numbers of efficienyc or medical benefit .I thikn it's importatn to have them, becaues they represetn freedom, the ability fpeopel to customixe their computign environment in any way they want, aand to liberty ot strive for ssomething better even if eveery single other person in the world isdoing things iin the same way. It;s a subyle diference, switchign your keymap .And yt, it's about the mots individualistuc things you can do with a computre.