Will today’s teenagers be the last generation to type on a keyboard?

This thought has been popping up in my mind consistently over the past few years. With voice recognition technology continually improving (I admit it still has a way to go), the need to actually keystroke in words is possibly becoming less and less relevant every day.

I don’t know about you but my handwriting is terrible. Never all that good in the first place, it has devolved into a text style instantly recognizable by nobody and sometimes not even by me. I am a far better typist since I type ALL the time and dislike having to write by hand. Since I grew up even before the advent of the personal computer (I was a proud owner of an IBM Selectric back in college) typing was a vast improvement over my even then lousy handwriting.

Teenagers today impress everyone with their mind-blowing speed when SMS texting. I also notice that kids are very fast and good at typing on a keyboard as well (their spelling – well that’s another story). But what if there was really good voice recognition software and technology that worked all the time? Perhaps I will receive notes from companies like Dragon and Nuance, as well as products from Windows, Google and Apple espousing how well their products work. I’ve used a few of them from time to time and my impression is they are improving but the learning curve takes too long – that is they take too long to recognize my voice to make the proper word interpretation.

Eventually voice recognition technology will be truly high performing. And the need to actually type one’s thoughts and ideas will be reduced dramatically. There will be a much higher value put on editing since the inability to think orally (unfortunately evidenced by too many people too frequently) will allow things like term papers and white papers to be much more easily started. But the finishing will then truly be the challenge – something that writers already are well aware of. Taking all those thoughts you have that then are translated into text that you can read on the page will be exciting at first as it will seem so easy. Yet crafting something that is both interesting and concise (brevity is beautiful after all), is not as easy as it looks – even when you don’t have to physically type the words.

Part of my process for “creating content” as it is now called, is writing and editing at the same time. Even after I finish the thought process I go back and edit. And then I edit again and again. So while I welcome advancements in voice recognition technology I am so wired into typing my thoughts it will not be easy for me to adopt its usage – at least for some of the time.
Of course then there’s eye tracking which was in the news this week as articles both in Business Week http://buswk.co/hbW9QS and the New York Times http://nyti.ms/giq0eA highlighted this emerging technology

I don’t long for my old IBM Selectric, but I wonder if I could really give up typing all together. Could you?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Best business practices, Communication, Customer Experiences and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Will today’s teenagers be the last generation to type on a keyboard?

  1. Tom says:

    I agree that voice recognition will be coming soon, but I wonder about having to actually use it. Recently I was on a busy trip in a car with four people all actively typing on their "machines" – smart phones, iPads, etc. How intrusive it would have been if each of us were speaking into our machines rather than quietly typing, pasting and sending. There are many cases where I am quite comfortable typing a message but would definitely shy away from speaking the words out loud. Perhaps the younger generation will be more comfortable blurting out their thoughts for all to hear, but I still treasure the privacy of pecking out my words.


  2. markkolier says:

    Good point on the idea that oral dictation in public would be really annoying if you had to listen. Sort of like mobile phones on airplanes.


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