Monday, February 18, 2008

Mind Stretching for creativity

I've been interested in the Dvorak Keyboard layout for years. Until recently however, I've not done much more than read about the history of it. Last week however, I read that Windows supports the Dvorak layout without needing a new keyboard, the only problem is that you can't look at the keys when trying to figure out the layout. Being that I'm a good typist I didn't see this as a limiting factor for me. I did see a problem with the fact that I type all day long, and slowing my typing at work could prevent me from getting my work done.

I investigated, and the Dvorak language can be turned on and off at will. So I installed it. I rebooted and started working in the new layout. Note, this is hard to do when you have to log into a computer. The password is hidden and the layout doesn't match what's on the keyboard. I printed a layout to help me through. Then I also installed the on-screen keyboard from PortableApps.com so I could look up at the screen and see the keys that I needed.

Roger Von Oech, in A Whack on the Side of the Head, talks about the need to get outside the box. Creativity comes when your mind is open to new things, and it opens when you stretch it beyond it's comfort zone. Typing on an entirely different layout that you are trying to memorize is odd. My fingers want to move to where they remember moving so easily in the past. This has been a harder transition than teaching myself to write with my left hand, and to throw with my left hand (I am right handed).

The biggest benefits of the Dvorak keyboard are supposed to be the speed improvements. I won't know if I'm any faster on it for a few months, but it will be an interesting challenge for me to push myself to type as fast as I can on it. I'm not the worlds fastest typist, but I seem to continually test out at around 70 Words Per minute when I play online games related to typing.

My goal is not just a speed improvement though. I hope to open up creative paths. I hope to be more open to ideas that help me be creative. Changing my typing, is just the medium I'm using this time.

How have you stretched your mind today?