Moby Dick Keyboard

May I present your new keyboard layout. It is based on the character counts from Moby Dick.


It’s based on the letter frequencies derived from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

What we did was to take the letters, and balance them left to right around frequency and distance to move one’s fingers. This is how the keyboard should have been designed from the beginning. This would have been the most efficient pattern to build a keyboard. (No, Dvorak’s is better than the QWERTY but not as well designed as this specification).

By placing letters clustered by frequency, but on opposite sides of the board, we balance the work done by both hands.

Notice we separate the comma and period, no shift necessary. The slash and backslash are combined, as well as the 1 and pipe. The brackets are placed opposite as well as the question mark and exclamation. All the other keys are essentially left alone. The colon and semi-colon have been moved as those two have no place resting beneath the right hand pinky finger.

No doubt some further optimizations could be applied, two letter combinations that appear more frequently than others, but for the most part, this layout is a far superior model for human hand configuration.

Here are the frequencies as extracted from that historic text:

Left Right
114980 E T 86548
83823 A O 68131
64556 N I 64385
63106 S H 61777
51157 R L 42045
37662 D U 26251
22900 M C 22142
21774 W G 20491
20476 F P 16960
16602 Y B 16601
8418 V K 7937
1544 Q J 1061
1006 X Z 624
18948 , . 7385
1000 ? ! 1740
4139 ; : 196

[Continuing on this whale of a theory, more than just the frequency of key strokes should be considered. By doing a simple random key press test of about 500 keys, reached by their ease of access, I was able to produce a actual touch count which should be used as an overlay to place the letter counts from above.

For instance, the “F” key is indeed the most readily pressed key. The “J” key, the next down. But oddly the “I” key and the “W” keys (on the QWERTY board) come with high counts too. So, more accurately, a random finger press test should be used as the basis to determine finger extent and counts and then the letter counts from Moby Dick applied over top.

If this sounds like rambling, you’re right. Vicodin is a great drug.]





13 thoughts on “Moby Dick Keyboard

  1. Hallucinations? Do tell. I’ll be going there soon. Trillions of dollars of lost efficiency? I they can’t measure it, they don’t care. So when is YOUR keyboard going to market. Maybe you can make them care…get more blood out of the slaves.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting little detail is that the QWERT is used on most laptops and other keyboards in both Spain and Norway. I don’t know which of the languages it would be better or worse for, to tell you the truth, but the one presented here would probably be more efficient in all three of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I went researching keyboard layouts and indeed, there are numerous alternatives. Even a piece of software one can use to measure the efficiency of a particular pattern.
      I wonder, now, about the trillions of dollars of lost efficiency, over the years, due to QWERTY’s non-optimized approach.


  3. Anybody spends that much fucking time in Moby DIck needs to find a way out of their misery. I think I’d rather read the Boy Scout Handbook and eat glass. There’s always bird feathers, fountain pens, pencils and crayons…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, no real reason. Moby Dick was created by hand, fully, no mechanical biases built in. It’s rather long, and richly worded, so a well-rounded text. And it’s quintessentially American. Melville does use far more exclamation marks than is considered balanced these days, but if we only count the letters, then these ratios are probably as good as any.
      Mostly this came about from a hallucination I had while reviving from the anesthetics… I saw myself typing on a keyboard that was definitely not QUERTY.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. And, had anyone bothered to actually design the original typewriter without the intentional hobbling of the key layout (to accommodate the mechanics of the primitive machines) then this text “might” have served as the source from which an optimized layout would have been designed.

      Liked by 1 person

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