In The Keyboard Cult on his Coding Horror blog, Jeff Atwood surveys mechanical keyboards. But he introduces his survey thusly:
As a guy who spends most of his day typing words on a screen, it’s hard for me to take touch computing seriously.
He trots out Scott Adams trotting out the notion that iOS is for consumption and not creation.
And deeper into his post he writes:
Maybe I’m biased. As I recently remarked on programmers.stackexchange.com, I can’t take slow typists seriously as programmers. When was the last time you saw a hunt-and-peck pianist?
Touch typing on a full size keyboard, thumb typing on a physical smart phone keyboard, and 'typing' on a touch keyboard are different skills. The first two skills are related. The last skill is entirely different. The fastest raw typing speed on a touch keyboard will probably never approach the fastest typing on a physical keyboard. The real question is not which is faster, but if typing on a touch keyboard can be fast enough.
Atwood has highly developed touch typing skills and he's understandably frustrated that those skills don't transfer but how much effort did he put into developing 'typing on touch' skills before dismissing touch computing?
Activities that would be characterized as passive consumption requires less complex interactivity than creation activities regardless of the platform. But the disparity between consumption and creation activities is more apparent on iOS. There is a learning curve. It's not a steep curve but it's there. And it's a disservice to pretend otherwise.
iOS is a very young platform. It's already well established but the platform and the applications on the platform have a lot of growing and maturing to look forward to. Some of the tasks that are awkward and slow today will not be in the future. That doesn't help today of course.
Still Atwood's dismissal of touch computing seems extreme. Maybe he's link baiting.
Which brings us to the 'hunt-and-peck pianist'. There are many skills that make for a good programmer. Fast typing is not one of them. Atwood's analogy is plain bad.
Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.— Edsger W. Dijkstra
This post was written on an iPad.