On this episode of the Smashing Podcast, we ask what’s the important thing to an awesome keyboard? Is that this important a part of our every day toolkit simply missed? Vitaly Friedman talks to professional Marcin Wichary to search out out.
Vitaly Friedman: He’s an awesome designer, glorious author, and great engineer. Initially from Szczecin, Poland, he used to work as a design lead and a typographer at Medium. He was a fellow of Code for America and a UX designer at Google working with the Chrome search and homepage twin groups. He now works as a design supervisor and editor design lead at Figma in San Francisco. He studied at West Palm College in Szczecin, and accomplished his doctoral in human pc interplay in Eindhoven, Netherlands, and in addition in Amsterdam. Apparently, he speaks a minimum of — nicely, that’s from what we all know — six languages together with Polish, Dutch, and somewhat little bit of English. Now he’s extraordinarily obsessive about many issues, however most notably hyperlink underlines, typesetting, fonts, and guess what? Typewriters.
Vitaly: So we all know he’s an awesome designer with a eager eye for typography, however do you know that Marcin is a former Polish handball goalkeeper, and after hours he likes to power his mates to observe Sneakers, time and again and again and again. It’s like Groundhog Day over again. And he managed to place Pac-Man on Google’s homepage. My Smashing mates, please welcome Marcin Wichary. Good day Marcin. How are you doing at this time?
Marcin: I’m smashing, however the handball gamers… That was humorous. There’s a man whose identify precisely like me, who’s a handball participant.
Vitaly: Oh, I believed it’s you. Marcin, this might not be coincidence. He appears to be like such as you.
Marcin: Form of appears to be like like me. It’s humorous as a result of I’m form of little bitter as a result of he has a Wikipedia entry and I don’t. But in addition there are these cool YouTube movies of individuals chanting his identify like Marcin Wichary. And I typically play them and faux that that’s me.
Vitaly: However I’m certain that there are great listeners who’re listening to this very recording proper now… They’ll be greater than impressed and excited to create a Wikipedia web page for you, simply want to inform us about your story, all of the issues that usually go in a Wikipedia web page.
Marcin: When the Wikipedia learns about this collusion right here. I don’t—
Vitaly: That’s okay. I feel we’re all protected right here. We have now great pleasant individuals listening to us. Marcin, it’s such a pleasure to see you once more. I imply we haven’t seen one another for.. a very long time. You spoke at SmashingConfs some time again as nicely, and it’s such a pleasure. You by no means change, do you? You by no means change. One factor that actually excites me about you is that you’re actually obsessive about issues, however in a great way. I imply, not in a foul approach, proper? In good methods. And I’m questioning, possibly it’ll be a superb begin simply so that you can briefly share your story. The place did it come to be? Did you need to turn into an online designer while you had been rising up?
Marcin: Oh, that’s an awesome query. I’ve heard this… So the reply might be no, in as a lot as internet design didn’t exist once I was rising up.
Vitaly: Precisely. Yeah.
Marcin: For sort of an aspiring little nerd, I acquired fairly fortunate as a result of my dad had this form of dream job for the time being, which was repairing arcade video games and pinball machines. And it’s enjoyable as a result of it’s clearly video games, proper? It’s good to have the ability to go into the arcade and play without spending a dime in early nineties or mid-nineties. Nevertheless it’s additionally enjoyable as a result of you’ll be able to sort of open them up and see how they’re constructed. And that I feel was what acquired me hooked into, “Oh, this enjoyable was designed, made by any person.” And you may lookup all the belongings, you’ll be able to open the pinball machine and poke your finger at issues and—
Vitaly: Which is, after all, what you probably did.
Marcin: I did, yeah. I extremely advocate it when you have a pinball machine subsequent to you, ask them to open it up and present you. There’s a lot beneath the play area. And that form of led finally to computer systems and sort of programming and I feel as many individuals most likely, I felt like I used to be only a dangerous programmer who acquired distracted by telephones and colours and recreating UI components.
Marcin: And finally a lot later I realized that is really one thing like what I’ve been doing. It’s referred to as UX design or interplay design or no matter you need to name it. And that grew to become sort of my factor, however not earlier than I really invested in a variety of changing into a programmer, as a result of I believed that’s the closest to the place I used to be. And so I backed into the… There’s the traditional ought to designers code query, which we shouldn’t actually discuss it as a result of it’s unanswerable. However I sort of stroll myself again into it accidentally. I used to be a programmer first and I sort of grew to become a designer with all of this programming baggage. Which really ended up being sort of a minimum of helpful in my line of labor.
Vitaly: However I imply one factor that’s actually pursuits me more often than not is that I had a really related story as nicely once I was rising up. As a result of I keep in mind there was no factor, changing into a designer, you simply do some internet stuff and then you definately sort of webmaster in a approach. And one factor that I observed a lot of my mates who had been transferring into design and this internet factor, they got here from in every single place. They had been doing all various things. A few of them had been constructing glasses, the others could be architects, the others could be writers. And it was this unimaginable second of just about a wave, a really sturdy wave of simply individuals from far and wide coming in. And it felt like you might be extra… You’re simply changing into one thing new, one thing solely new.
Vitaly: So it’s such as you was that particular person, then you definately’re changing into a brand new particular person. Do you are feeling, and that is second of transformation, a minimum of that is how I skilled it, did you are feeling the identical approach? You’ve turn into any person else over time otherwise you simply grew naturally into this function being excited by all the pieces digital? And clearly we’ll discuss additionally a number of the know-how. Historic or I might say… Not historic possibly, however classic know-how. So I’m actually questioning simply what introduced you to that particular place. You might be doing so many issues, not simply programming, not simply design. There are all these issues.
Marcin: It’s an awesome query and it’s one thing I’ve clearly been pondering lots about, as a result of it’s consideration between two issues. One is have having a plan. I need to turn into this particular person, I need to do these issues. I need to put money into that. Which you’ll and possibly ought to must some extent. However I feel extra of my profession has been reflection on what issues meant to me, and what excited me, and what I gravitated to, and seeing what extra I can do with that and the way I can join it to different issues. Like to provide you a selected instance, I joined Medium again within the day as a result of it simply appeared like terribly cool, and large sort of concentrate on craft, a small staff, a really lovely but in addition significant product that sort of helped individuals write. Which felt vital to me, all the time felt vital to me. However within the means of it, I began writing increasingly more another way.
Marcin: And I feel Medium was really sort of vital for me. You joked about me figuring out six languages, which I solely know two very nicely and some poorly, however at that time in my life I nonetheless wasn’t actually certain if I can write in English, as a result of my unique language is Polish. And Medium acquired me over that hump. It acquired me snug with English sufficient after which I began writing about this typewriter stuff and other people began reacting to it and in some unspecified time in the future I used to be like, I related these three issues. One was I’ve all the time wished to put in writing a guide as a result of my mother was a librarian and I believed books is the largest factor you are able to do in your life. For those who write a guide, you paid your dues on this planet. After which I crossed some form of a threshold the place I may do it in English.
Marcin: I felt for the primary time English is my language. After which I discovered a factor to put in writing about, utterly accidentally. So I feel for me it’s, I’ve by no means actually felt there was an inflection level that I grew to become a brand new particular person. However in hindsight I all the time sort of have a look at these connecting issues and saying like, “Oh, ought to I make investments extra in typography as a result of I appear to be actually into fonts.” However I didn’t know I used to be. I don’t know. Possibly in some unspecified time in the future pinballs are going to be again and I would be the pinball man. I don’t know, that’s most likely not going to occur. However that’s sort of usually how I considered it. Assume somewhat bit about what you need to do, but in addition join the issues that you have already got, a minimum of labored for me.
Vitaly: Yeah. I imply one different factor that actually pursuits me is that all of us get tremendous enthusiastic about know-how. All of us are nearly possessed or obsessed I might say by this notion, “Oh, we are able to do issues sooner and we are able to do issues higher.” And what I realized is that though we attempt to make issues sooner and we attempt to make issues higher, the humanity remains to be extremely busy. We used to suppose that know-how goes to assist us and we’re going to be doing much less and we’re going to be just a bit bit extra relaxed in life. Nevertheless it looks like we’re doing increasingly more and extra with that know-how.
Vitaly: However what I actually like and what actually offers me somewhat little bit of fascination I suppose, is that you’re all the time trying again. You’re nearly obsessive about previous know-how. I imply, most likely additionally with new know-how, possibly I’m flawed right here. However I’m questioning is one thing flawed with fashionable know-how that you’re nearly spending most of your time with the previous one?
Marcin: What isn’t? Yeah, I imply there’s all the time one thing flawed with know-how. I feel we undergo these cycles the place we get excited after which we reevaluate it. I feel crypto simply went by this section. I imply truthfully, as a lot as I feel you and I each love the online, there are most likely some moments the place we’re like, “Oh, was this good for all of us, or did it create some challenges?
However I don’t suppose Tim Berners-Lee is simply universally pleased with what got here of internet. However I feel usually, I can’t say the previous… I need to really very particularly keep away from, “They don’t make them like they used to,” sort of line of pondering as a result of I don’t suppose it’s notably useful.
Marcin: I feel for me a variety of it’s about connecting the previous into the longer term and remixing it. Actually this week at my work, I’ll most likely use some issues that I realized in my analysis for the guide in regards to the keyboards, as a result of keyboards are nonetheless round and typography is identical. Typography sort of has all of those waves and existed for a whole lot of years, and you’ll seize issues from the previous and you must watch out, as a result of nostalgia is extremely highly effective however not all the time helpful. And you may see what nonetheless is sensible and what are you able to be taught from the previous, and what you’ll be able to throw away, or what must be revisited. As a result of there’s a variety of baggage there. I don’t understand how a lot… I used to be simply fascinated by this. Have you learnt Playdate, the little sport machine with the crank?
Vitaly: Yeah. Sure, sure.
Marcin: They made it, I feel final yr. Shipped it precisely on the pandemic time, so it slowed them down. Nevertheless it’s this lovely little system. It’s a handheld system with video games with a monochrome display and this sort of unusual consumer interface. However what I actually like about it as an announcement is that it tries to barter with nostalgia. It’s not simply an emulator of an previous sport. It’s extra form of taking a look at a previous and saying, “What of these issues that we moved on from had been really attention-grabbing and higher.” Possibly the restrictions of a monochromatic display with fats pixels is one thing attention-grabbing for creativity. Possibly a tool that’s form of small and devoted to 1 factor, it’s nice and we sort of misplaced it through the years. However I additionally say we would like web connectivity. We wish a very nice steel system that feels nice.
Marcin: It’s this determining how one can recombine these issues. And I feel that’s finally essential to me. That was the identical story with Underlines at Medium. It wasn’t that allow’s be without end indebted to the gods of typography from 200 years in the past, who designed an ideal underline. As a result of that’s actually not that thrilling. I imply it’s from the craft perspective, but it surely was actually attention-grabbing, like how will we make hyperlinks that look lovely, as a result of then you definately need to hyperlink to extra issues. And linking to extra issues, it’s only a very, very highly effective factor that you are able to do.
Vitaly: And a really distinctive factor that we are able to do. Interactive media as nicely, proper?
Marcin: Yeah, and I used to be impressed by simply individuals who write in a approach… That’s what I miss typically of writing for “paper.” That you simply can’t hyperlink to issues. As a result of that’s simply like-
Vitaly: Nicely, we have now footnotes.
Marcin: Yeah, yeah. However you can not… Do you keep in mind John Syracuse’s MacOS 10 critiques? They had been on Ars Technica for a lot of, a few years. Each time a brand new MacOS 10 got here out.
Vitaly: Yeah, I keep in mind. Yeah, yeah.
Marcin: And he linked far and wide, and it was simply genuinely inspiring how a lot it modified the way in which you would learn actively.
Vitaly: Yeah, however do you suppose Marcin, I imply I sort of preserve coming again to this really, for the final couple of weeks. Someway I keep in mind vividly this notion of imperfection once I was rising up. So I assumed that we have now an identical age and I keep in mind viewing all these TV exhibits, and the conversations and the damaged, semi-broken web connection, and fairly dangerous telephones and all these items. And it felt so human to me one way or the other. Like, “Oh, after all this factor is damaged.” And that’s fantastic.
Marcin: And I really feel like these moments of just about serendipity, I suppose. I imply, I’m not attempting to be nostalgic right here only for the sake of being nostalgic, however I’ve this sense that possibly we have now an excessive amount of of what we really need lately, by way of know-how. So you’ll be able to watch something you need with the clicking on a button. There may be this notion of, you don’t must go anyplace. The whole lot is true right here.
Marcin: However then I sort of appreciated this second. I watched one of many foolish nineties motion pictures, and there was this second the place you’ll go to this VHS retailer and you’ll decide up the VHS tape and you’ll have an infinite dialog with your mates about what are we going to observe, with out really watching a trailer of it. Form of think about what it’s going to be. And I really feel like, “Oh wow.” I don’t have that have anymore. We simply decide one thing up primarily based on IMDB rating and name it a day.
Marcin: Yeah, I feel we’re determining what this form of abundance of issues means to us. I feel there’s a parallel argument you would make, and I feel some individuals made, that for instance, Twitter with its form of virality and outrage and all of that, is simply an expression of, we had been by no means meant to be related to so many individuals so intimately. That’s simply not how we’re wired. The Dunbar quantity exists for a motive, and I feel hopefully we’ll determine it out. I don’t know.
Vitaly: I’m very optimistic about that. I’ve all the time been.
Marcin: Yeah. I feel you’ll be able to see even within the wake of Twitter information, individuals attempting to suppose… Possibly the form of small curated set of blogs that I comply with is definitely somewhat bit extra human, such as you say. Possibly the Google reader was proper all alongside. And so hopefully we’ll modify and work out what’s that form of human second on this scale of zero to all the pieces.
Vitaly: However I additionally suppose the human know-how, I need to see extra of human know-how. And I feel that’s indirectly the hub. Really, this can be a good segue to your work. Just like the Figma editor, the place you see cursors coming in and transferring round and doing issues collectively. I all the time really feel just a bit bit of pleasure once I see cursors transferring in and other people coming in, and some extra of us simply mess around, they usually do these items and typically it’s damaged and typically this isn’t sort of… I don’t know. Sticky observe or no matter.
Marcin: It’s simply falls over the cliff or something. However I like this notion. It looks like that is actually one thing that actually connects me with individuals everywhere in the world, simply the cursors. Possibly you would really converse somewhat bit extra about what precisely you’re engaged on than the Figma context. I observed you’re engaged on the core, the center, the traditional Figma editor, however particularly keyboard shortcuts, if I’m not mistaken.
Marcin: Yeah, I’ve turn into the keyboard particular person additionally at work as a result of, for apparent causes, I suppose. I joined Figma nearly 5 years in the past, and initially I used to be one of many designers. I work on the primary model of auto structure and a bunch of typography issues, choice colours, which I feel turned out nicely. And a variety of smaller issues, as a result of I feel we hope that Figma can be a variety of smaller issues achieved nicely, and a variety of huge issues achieved nicely they usually coexist.
Marcin: As of late I’m moved in the direction of being a supervisor, so I’m principally attempting to assist different people who find themselves extra gifted than me to make these issues occur. They’re engaged on actually, actually spectacular options that you recognize may need seen already or you will note later this yr. It’s all within the… We name it the editor, the traditional Figma. And as for the keyboard, yeah, it’s sort of humorous the way it’s haunting me in a approach, as a result of Figma is sort of the productiveness app in a approach. And in some methods it’s really actually old-fashioned, if you consider it.
Marcin: It’s in a contemporary context, it has multiplayer on the internet, but it surely actually has right-click menus and a bunch of the… And once more, it’s a negotiation with nostalgia in a approach. It’s like how a lot of that is good, how a lot of this we have to revisit daily? And the identical with the keyboard, as a result of keyboards are nonetheless the device if you wish to do a variety of issues actually rapidly. It’s sort of miraculous how they weren’t constructed to be that device initially, possibly. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless most likely the most effective connection between your mind and the surface world, is the keyboard. So we’re continuously, “The place will we put these keyboard shortcuts?” And there’s a lot historical past of keyboard shortcuts that you must negotiate. “What will we do with this modifier key?” Which we continuously run off modifier keys. That’s like an ongoing joke.
Vitaly: Oh, that’s not shocking. Even simply what number of keyboard shortcuts you have already got.
Marcin: And what number of issues. It’s just like the traditional Doug Engelbart factor. It’s simply probably the most lovely issues occurs when you might have one hand on the mouse and one hand on the keyboard. For those who watch any person use Figma or different energy instruments rather well, it’s unimaginable. And but, it’s humorous how Doug Engelbart tried to invent his personal system for the left hand, or should you’re right-handed for the mouse, which was a key set, a particular system.
Marcin: However we don’t have that. We use the keyboard with the opposite hand, and the keyboard is just not actually designed that nicely to try this, due to the mixture of modifier keys and a mouse. In order that’s all the time… It’s humorous, my job is in a variety of methods, it’s the identical form of historic analysis as my guide, besides put in a really completely different context. Like Shift + A for auto structure. That’s a shortcut we invented, proper? In a approach for Figma. It didn’t exist, however we had been simply… To begin with, we had been fortunate that it was free, as a result of Alt + A is already artwork board, Command + A is already choose all. And you would argue Shift + A is definitely not the correct shortcut as a result of shortcuts will not be supposed to begin with Shift, besides all of us began doing this just a few years in the past as a result of we run out.
Vitaly: I might like to be in that assembly the place you’re really deciding, “Okay, so we have to discover a new shortcut. So that is how we’re going to this.” I’m simply curious, how do you even run that assembly? So let’s discover all of the choices we have now, or it must be related indirectly or the opposite with what we’re attempting to do right here.
Marcin: Yeah, it’s humorous. You don’t need to be… It’s laborious. I’m simply going to say it’s actually, actually laborious, as a result of there’s simply so many limitations. And I feel the actually laborious half about keyboard shortcuts or something revolving round motor reminiscence is you can’t actually negotiate it. As soon as a keyboard shortcut places itself in your fingers, it’s actually laborious to get it out of it.
Marcin: There’s this nice analysis I realized of a very long time in the past, most likely a century in the past, that they had an individual who realized how one can contact kind, after which he moved on to do different issues together with his life. I feel at this level it was nonetheless attainable to not contact a keyboard for years or many years. So he contact typed for some time on the typewriter, after which for 25 years he did nothing. He had a secretary who typed for him. They usually put him in entrance of the typewriter like 25 years since he final wrote, and he simply typed. It wasn’t as quick as 25 years, but it surely was form of miraculous how rapidly he acquired again into typing actually, rather well. After which they did it once more 25 years later.
Vitaly: Oh, that’s fairly the experiment proper there.
Marcin: Yeah. There was a humorous… They only discovered this particular person, and since issues simply put in themselves within the motor reminiscence in form of actually lovely methods, in a approach. That’s how we are able to stroll, that’s how we are able to chew gum, that’s how we are able to do all types of issues. And that’s how we are able to kind.
Marcin: For a few of us, to not make it very darkish, however in some unspecified time in the future in our life, you may overlook who you might be, however you’ll nonetheless be capable to kind, as a result of that’s a special a part of our mind. So in case you are used to Command + S to save lots of, should you’re used to Command + A to pick out all, should you used to Command + B to make one thing daring, that’s non-negotiable, kind of. It’s actually laborious to take that shortcut away and put one thing else as a replacement. So it’s very simple to simply preserve including shortcut, but it surely additionally is difficult as a result of there’s solely so many keys.
Vitaly: Yeah, as a result of it’s flawed.
Marcin: …these slack conversations, and I’ve some tips internally to Figma, but it surely’s simply actually laborious. Each time, it’s only a actually lengthy dialog the place you are feeling such as you can’t win, however you must.
Vitaly: Yeah, yeah. Nicely, I imply clearly keyboards have been following you for a very long time, and I even heard rumors that you’re engaged on a guide round that. Began writing again in 2016, if not mistaken. And it’s not simply the guide, from what I may inform. It’s nearly an epic monumental opus about keyboards in three volumes, lovely slip case, 1,300 images, 42 chapters, 520 full coloration photographs, 37 Easter eggs, and 4 photographs of keyboards utilizing Comedian Sans. Nicely, that should have taken fairly a while. And also you most likely are somewhat bit… Possibly you wouldn’t imply that. A bit of bit obsessive about keyboards. So possibly you would inform us a bit extra about how this all got here to be and what ought to we expect within the guide?
Marcin: Yeah, so it began, like I discussed earlier, I used to be at Medium and I feel Medium workplaces, they used to have rooms named after typewriters. Simply because it’s a publishing firm, it’s sort of a cute gimmick. However additionally they had typewriters in these rooms as ornament. And I didn’t care as a lot about keyboards earlier than, however I began taking a look at these typewriters they usually all had QWERTY, however that they had attention-grabbing keys on the periphery they usually all had been somewhat bit completely different. And I began being interested in why. And also you talked about this form of obsession. What was actually attention-grabbing about keyboards for me is that the extra I saved studying about them, the extra there was. There’s this form of fractal for something, let’s say backspace. I begin trying into backspace. It’s like, “Oh my God.” It’s a complete set of tales simply round this one key.
Marcin: And I realized through the years that not all the pieces’s as attention-grabbing, however much more issues are extra attention-grabbing than you suppose, on the whole. I feel you get into this little… You develop this sense of, “Is that this world digging deeper?” And it felt like this. And so I began writing some Medium posts, after which individuals had very nice reactions to them. I feel I wrote one in regards to the Turkish typewriter simply because I one way or the other realized about it. And I acquired messages from individuals in Turkey saying, “Thanks. No one appreciates this factor that we have now.” After which I wrote one thing else about I feel typography and typewriters, as a result of that’s more and more related. And in some unspecified time in the future I had this second the place I’m like, “Wait, if I preserve doing that, there’s simply sufficient phrases for a guide.” There was nearly a numerical method. I multiplied, I used to be like, “Oh, it’s a guide size.”
Marcin: And naturally the joke’s on me, as a result of it ended up being way more than I anticipated. Took much more time. However I used to be speaking to Craig Mod, who’s a very good writer and simply this excellent inventive particular person. And I feel in some unspecified time in the future he advised me, “If you wish to write a guide, I feel you must decide a topic that comes again to you even should you don’t need it, as a result of you’ll need a variety of vitality. You’ll need a variety of assist. You’ll need one thing that may carry you if you end up within the darkest second. And there will likely be darkish moments.” And I believed, “Oh, the keyboard factor retains coming again to me.” I preserve taking a look at it, I preserve researching it, I preserve writing about it. And that ended up being very, very useful.
Marcin: I feel the remainder of it is rather like, yeah, I form of method it on this form of semi obsessive approach as I do, which possibly will in the future result in my demise or some kind, as a result of this can be a lot of stuff. Nevertheless it ended up being this… You talked about epic, and possibly it’s, however I additionally very intentionally need to make it not… How do I say it. Nerdy in all the fitting methods, or intimidating, however in a great way that makes you need to learn it. As a result of it’s a variety of stuff, but it surely’s additionally I feel written, I hope, in a really approachable approach. So you’ll be able to simply get misplaced in some tales of varied keys or typewriters or fashionable mechanical keyboards. I can decide one chapter, you’ll be able to learn it entrance to again, but in addition there’s one factor I’m happy with.
Marcin: I feel you talked about 1300 photographs. I feel most of them are full coloration, and it’s additionally simply… You may simply have a look at the guide. It’s really humorous. I realized this one way or the other additionally by giving talks at Smashing convention, different conferences, of the way you inform tales which are textual and visible on the identical time. There’s all the faculties about what do you set in your slides, don’t learn over slide, do that, don’t do this. And I feel a variety of them are, do no matter works for you, truthfully.
Marcin: I noticed individuals learn from slides and I used to be engrossed. I noticed those who don’t have any slides in any respect, and it was nice. So you discover your approach. However I feel the way in which I discovered was simply this wealthy tapestry of visuals, typically displaying precisely what I’m speaking about, typically displaying one thing that’s parallel, however I don’t even acknowledge it. And I feel it’s really the guide in some ways was impressed by Hawaii and different individuals give talks. The place you might have your left mind have interaction with this, your proper mind have interaction with this, and I hope it really sort of counterintuitively helps you learn the guide extra. By including photographs it turns into much less laborious to undergo, as a result of there’s all the time one thing to hold you. These photographs are additionally very intentionally chosen, not simply so that they’re fairly, however additionally they partake in telling the story.
Vitaly: And so did you design the guide then as nicely? As a result of it’s a very lovely design too.
Marcin: Yeah, I did. There’s one other a part of the journey, and I feel the reason of why it took so lengthy is that I initially thought I’m going to have it revealed, like many others do. And I really thought, I don’t need to self-publish it as a result of truthfully, I believed that’s only for losers. It’s like for individuals who can’t get a contract or can’t get an agent. And I sort of went 180 over the primary few years the place I talked to many individuals they usually stated, “Self-publishing is definitely actually attention-grabbing, in a approach you can make this guide really feel precisely like what you need.” And there’s no disgrace in that anymore. I imply, there are dangerous self-published books, however there are additionally dangerous revealed. The entire thing grew to become way more flatter and way more really sophisticated. Kickstarter made it attainable for individuals to simply make the guide how they wished. I made a decision to do it that approach. To do it alone, and Kickstarter really coming quickly in February. So if that works out, I feel it’s going to be-
Vitaly: Nicely, it appears to be like a way of gorgeous. I imply, the second I noticed it, I needed to swipe by all the images and zoom in and zoom out to see all the pieces. So it’s actually lovely.
Vitaly: I’m very, very excited to see it coming to fruition. That’s nice. Nicely, really, as a result of in that analysis, working and dealing on that guide and taking a look at all these keyboards, I actually must ask at this level, what was really probably the most exceptional typewriter or keyboard? I feel possibly keyboard could be extra applicable, that you’ve found. Like probably the most uncommon factor that you’ve seen.
Marcin: So yeah, it’s lots, proper? It’s actually laborious to decide on this. I really am within the course of of constructing this guide. I amassed this assortment of most likely 150 unusual keyboards in there. The emphasis being unusual, as a result of there’s a variety of unusual stuff, and I really like that. And a variety of it’s within the guide, photographed. However I feel I’m really going to go the opposite approach, which is, so should you have a look at the historical past of keyboards, I nominated 5 keyboards as being the vital keyboards. Form of just like the milestones. The primary one is the primary QWERTY typewriter. Then there’s the Underwood No. 5, which is the primary hit. First typewriter hit. Form of just like the iPhone of its day. Then there’s this electrical, which is a lovely sort of electrical typewriter with a font ball and simply reinvention of the typewriter. Then there’s the Mannequin M, no shock right here. The clicky keyboard from mid-eighties.
Marcin: After which there’s the iPhone. I feel the iPhone simply modified a lot how we take into consideration keyboards. And so these 5 keyboards have centerfold within the guide, they’re handled very, very nicely. However I added yet one more, simply personally. I added yet one more to that listing, simply one thing that actually excited me. Selectric, which was this electrical typewriter got here out in, I feel 1961, very early sixties. They usually saved bettering it. And in 1973, I feel, they launched correcting Selectric II. Which was like v3 of this Selectric. And I really rented it, as a result of I used to be excited by it. And it’s actually attention-grabbing, as a result of it’s nonetheless a typewriter. You plug it to the wall, there’s no electronics there in any respect, and but it does… To begin with, it feels superb. There have been individuals saying, “Oh, Selectric was the most effective typewriter or the most effective keyboard I ever typed on.” And I used to be identical to, “No matter.” You simply occurred to be a youngster on the time, and also you simply realized to like it, as a result of all of us love all the pieces that occurred after we had been youngsters, proper?
Vitaly: We additionally affiliate sort of our emotions, no matter we skilled on the time with the system, though it may be only a system.
Marcin: Yeah, it’s traditional, proper? I’m not going to disclaim it. After which blah, no matter, nostalgia. After which I talked to him, I used to be like, “Oh my God, that is really a very nice feeling typewriter, proper? It’s a typewriter keyboard that appears like a pc keyboard. Which is sort of exceptional, even making that occur. Nevertheless it additionally has a variety of these items that you’d suppose solely computer systems may have. So it has somewhat buffer while you press two keys. It remembers the second, so you’ll be able to overlap your strokes. It has clearly the font ball the place it may substitute fonts simply and sort. And it has a bunch of different issues together with, and that is what blew my thoughts, it has a functioning backspace. For those who make a mistake, you’ll be able to erase it from paper, which looks like one thing that shouldn’t be attainable, as a result of how do you erase it from paper, proper?
Marcin: It’s on paper. You may cowl it up. No, they really did this actually sophisticated. It was chemistry. They made this very sophisticated. It’s not even ink, I feel movie the place it sticks to paper form of not very eagerly, so you’ll be able to take away it. And it had this complete little particular backspace key. That’s why it’s referred to as correcting Selectric, that should you do it rapidly sufficient, you’ll be able to take away it. And it’s just about gone from paper, particularly should you kind over it. It’s clearly a useless finish. Quickly after that, computer systems took over and keyboards went in a really completely different approach. And with computer systems, you don’t have to fret in regards to the backspace. It’s nearly the other. The whole lot disappears should you’re not paying consideration. So backspace is sort of the best key to make. However this correcting Selectric device was simply… My mouth was open the entire time I used to be utilizing these. Like, “How is that this attainable?”
Vitaly: Yeah, that may be very thrilling. I by no means considered this being even attainable or ever applied. That’s uncommon. Now, do you suppose that in your work you would be imagining really typing on that sort of typewriter after which it’s sort of indirectly plugged into your pc? Or will or not it’s only a misuse of know-how?
Marcin: No, no. That’s really one other fantastic thing about the Selectric is that the way in which it was constructed internally, and should you open… It’s an extremely advanced system, proper? It’s so dense. Principally again within the day, the upkeep of IBM Selectric typewriters was a profession. They had been each so common and so sophisticated in comparison with common typewriters that you would actually spend your complete life fixing them should you wished, and many individuals did.
Marcin: However one of many different issues that I didn’t even point out is that Selectric inside, due to how the keys must be related to the ball that rotates. By the way in which, if anyone’s listening, lookup Selectric ball, gradual movement on YouTube, and it’s identical to that alone is a marvel of know-how. However the way in which they join it, it’s really by binary code. So individuals realized in a short time they might repurpose this typewriter to be a terminal.
Marcin: Like again when show screens had been extremely costly, lots of people used Selectrics to interface with their computer systems, since you may kind, you’ll be able to learn, it’s a command line successfully. After which even IBM realized this, they usually launched what they referred to as Selectric IO, which was just a bit bit extra ready pc terminal. So on prime of all the pieces that I stated, it additionally grew to become this interface. It’s form of like lacking hyperlink, not solely typewriter keyboards to mechanical keyboards, but in addition simply form of between typewriters and computer systems in a approach. It’s form of an occasion diagram of the universe, Selectric served each side. I all the time cherished these form of transitional merchandise, proper?
Vitaly: Yeah, that’s unimaginable. However I imply, I feel you might have very sturdy opinions additionally in regards to the butterfly keyboard. Then we had on Mac for some time, the problems we had there. And I do must ask, I actually must ask. So what sort of keyboard do you employ for work? It may’t be an everyday one, can it?
Marcin: Nicely, okay, I’m taking a look at it now. So clearly I care about keyboards, however I’m not practically as obsessed as lots of people about mechanical keyboards. Individuals who put keyboards collectively, lube their switches. I’ve by no means went that far, however a few of these individuals are within the guide. Among the tales. I’ve, let me see. And I feel the way in which I discuss it may let you know what’s vital to me. So I’ve a HEXgears Gemini. Which I needed to lookup, as a result of I really forgot. Nevertheless it’s a TKL. So it doesn’t have a numpad, as a result of I don’t use it. It’s a comparatively fashionable keyboard. It has lights, however I don’t use these lights. What’s vital to me is that I’ve this clean kick ups. Simply, I don’t know, it makes me really feel cool.
Marcin: But in addition within the form of previous terminal kick ups from the seventies. I feel it’s referred to as SA or SAP, for individuals who know the jargon. And that was vital to me as a result of it’s form of partly what I realized in my analysis for the guide. And I identical to the form, and it form of feels, once more, like somewhat bit from the previous, little bit from the longer term sort of scenario.
I don’t know what swap… Individuals are going to cancel me for this. I don’t keep in mind what the switches are, however they’re customized swap. Nicely, not widespread, they’re not Cherry, they’re one thing, they’re yellow. I can let you know that. Possibly a number of the listeners can chime in. I acquired them as a result of they’re quieter. They’re linear they usually’re quieter for Zoom, however I additionally like the way in which they really feel. So it was partly practical and partly necessity.
Vitaly: Nicely, Marcin, that is far more particular of a solution than I used to be anticipating, however that’s okay. However one factor that you just haven’t answered but, and that’s one thing I do must ask as nicely, is you have to have tried at work keyboard or keyboard structure. Or possibly by any probability you might have a Turkish F keyboard, I don’t know, or any of the… I don’t even know how one can pronounce them. JCUKEN and post-mortem or something of that sort, or are you simply utilizing an everyday QWERTY one?
Marcin: So once more, this may be disappointing for individuals. I simply use QWERTY. I really don’t contact kind very nicely. Right here’s the enjoyable factor. I contact kind higher with my left hand than with my proper hand. I simply watched myself, I recorded myself, as a result of I used to be curious. It simply occurred. I simply occurred to be taught that approach. And that’s sort of like a narrative of QWERTY. I’ve a Dvorak typewriter someplace. I’ve a Turkish typewriter. I undoubtedly kind on a bunch of these layouts as analysis. As a result of it’s attention-grabbing, and it’s attention-grabbing to observe your fingers do all of those completely different motions. However I feel the rationale why I exploit QWERTY, is I feel the rationale lots of people use QWERTY, which is it’s simply sort of adequate.
Marcin: I used to be fortunate that I by no means had any points with my wrists or forearms or what some individuals name RSI, though it’s not a correct time period. And so I by no means wanted to kind lots. I by no means wanted to kind very, very quick. And so I simply stopped in some unspecified time in the future studying, and I simply typed the way in which I kind. And I feel that’s true for many individuals.
Vitaly: Yeah, after all.
Marcin: QWERTY could also be disappointing to many individuals, as a result of we form of standardized on a very dangerous factor. However I might argue it’s not that dangerous, in a approach. It was undoubtedly intentional, that we all know. It’s common, which we can’t… We have now to respect that. The truth that I can use this QWERTY keyboard and sort in Chinese language or Japanese or many different layouts, even should you swap it to AZERTY or Turkish. It’s simply the identical bodily structure. I feel there’s one thing that really assist us to some extent. And should you care about Dvorak and it’s helpful for you, or a lot of these extra fashionable layouts, or if you must, as a result of your arms protest at QWERTY, like you’ll be able to. That’s the great thing about the sort of pc keyboards from the eighties and onward, you can swap it. You now not must… Dvorak needed to put it in a typewriter and promote it, and it was simply an enormous endeavor. Dvorak the particular person. August Dvorak.
Marcin: And that was laborious at that time, within the thirties. Attempt to persuade the typewriter producers to launch a complete new line of typewriters along with your factor, though you stated you might have scientific proof that it’s higher. And I don’t suppose that’s really true, however at this time everyone… And other people do give you their very own layouts. I like a variety of that. However I additionally suppose, for instance, the sort of market failure of QWERTY has nothing… Sorry, of Dvorak. QWERTY didn’t fail in any respect. QWERTY keeps-
Vitaly: I feel QWERTY is, from what I can inform, from what I’ve heard just lately, it’s fairly profitable.
Marcin: Yeah, I imply, that’s sort of just like the humorous factor. You may seize the man who places collectively the primary QWERTY, proper? Christopher Latham Sholes. Nearly precisely 150 years in the past, they launched the primary typewriter with QWERTY, and you would put him in entrance of the fashionable pc and he would know what to do. It’s the identical factor. It’s sort of like, you would see it as very disappointing, but it surely’s additionally sort of an attention-grabbing success story.
Marcin: However I feel the failure of Dvorak, or a minimum of the mass adoption of Dvorak and different layouts has actually nothing to do with the structure itself. Individuals like Dvorak didn’t actually possibly need to care about, which is advertising and marketing or storytelling or fascinated by transitions. Once more, one thing like with Figma, how do you transition from one keyboard shortcut to the opposite one? It’s an enormous endeavor, and it takes years. So think about that fifty years after QWERTY was invented. That was already very, very laborious. And I feel these are the issues that additionally matter, and never simply the form of scientific benefit that’s proved by math of a sure structure, which by the way in which, can be actually, actually laborious to do, and I don’t suppose we all know how to try this.
Vitaly: Yeah. That’s proper. Nicely, as we’re wrapping up right here, I do must ask one vital query, after all. Now, at this time we’ve been studying somewhat bit about keyboards, and we’ll now know that even Marcin is utilizing QWERTY, which is I feel completely cool and all. However I’ve been questioning additionally, what have you ever been studying about these days, Marcin? What retains you awake at evening? Are there any specific matters the place you might be diving in, or possibly there may be one specific keyboard that you just’re dreaming about seeing or typing on in the future? Do you might have this magical factor that you just desperately need to see or contact in the future?
Marcin: That’s an awesome query. So to reply so as, I’m studying a variety of issues nonetheless for the guide. I used to be studying 3JS for the web site. I’m studying lots about printing and advertising and marketing now. Undecided that’s tremendous attention-grabbing. The one factor that was laborious about writing the guide, and I feel possibly each historian has that, is that there are the artifacts, proper? I really typed on the primary QWERTY typewriter for a really transient second, and it was actually cool. It was sort of magical, notably that it was simply in a museum, and no one advised me it was that, I simply realized it was that. It was an awesome discovery. I want I had a time machine to speak about a few of these individuals and their choices. Individuals who made the primary typewriter, individuals who made the Underwood No. 5, individuals who labored on the Selectric, as a result of it appears like there aren’t any weblog posts, there aren’t any talks as a lot. There are some papers, not very many. There are some patterns, however they’re not very helpful.
Marcin: I simply need a few of these individuals on Twitter speaking about their course of. I do know that’s not going to occur, and I feel a part of my guide is attempting to faux this might occur, inform their tales for them. However I actually want I may simply chat over drinks or one thing with a few of these individuals. And if you wish to inform me one thing that’s utterly… It seems writing a guide is simply all consuming. It’s simply takes over your life, whether or not you need it or not. So for individuals who are contemplating it, I might advocate it, however beware. However I’ve been actually impressed. There’s this particular person on YouTube referred to as Adam Neely, who I feel is an expert musician, and it’s only a very completely different world. Clearly keyboards and music, sure. However I don’t have a look at it this.
Marcin: He’s this actually good storyteller round this… It’s sort of what I feel I might need to be for my area, which is go nerdy on issues in approachable methods, and inform these tales about like, why do musicians want in ear screens, which I’d by no means actually considered. And it’s lots about propagation sound and delays and precisely the sort of stuff you consider as a designer. Or what’s the distinction between C Sharp and B. Which apparently there may be, or simply popular culture stuff. So it’s Adam Neely, it’s actually, rather well achieved. He’s an awesome storyteller. And I don’t know a lot about music, however I’m stunned how usually… It’s like watching a TV present. Typically it goes over my head, but it surely’s like all the time…. You’re watching a professional inform a very good story, and it’s all the time entertaining.
Vitaly: Oh, that’s very cool. I might like to look that up. As a result of I didn’t know why artists really trouble to plug in one thing into the ear. They most likely have a fairly good sound high quality anyway. However now I do know.
Nicely, should you, expensive listener wish to hear extra from Marcin, yow will discover him on Twitter the place he’s @ M W I C H A R Y, which is mwichary. Additionally on his homepage, Aresluna. I do must ask you, Marcin, at this level, Aresluna, I couldn’t discover the connection anyplace between you and Aresluna. What’s the connection? The place is the lacking hyperlink right here?
Marcin: Oh, yeah. So it’s really all related to the issues we talked about. How do I inform this story rapidly? My favourite author of all time is Stanisław Lem, the Polish author who did a variety of sci-fi. And I feel simply impressed me to put in writing myself, and impressed me to think about language in way more form of inventive and malleable and enjoyable methods, as a result of he had a lot enjoyable with language. And a part of that was, so I’m studying this guide and there’s this one… It’s a future sci-fi sort of factor. And one ship talks to the opposite ship, they usually say, “Titan for Aresluna reporting to the star base or one thing.” And it’s not clarify what it means. It’s simply the phrase Aresluna. And so what Lem was doing was… Turned out to be phrase constructing. He didn’t clarify one thing, however should you have a look at these phrases, it’s like Ares is Mars, Luna is Moon.
Marcin: So you’ll be able to in a short time get, oh, they’re flying between the Mars and Moon so usually that they only have shortcut, they’ve jargon for that. So on this one world, you’ll be able to simply set up this huge a part of story constructing. So I simply sort of like that. I just like the sound of it. And I additionally like that Mars is just not like Moon in any respect. He additionally wrote about that, and it’s enjoyable. I don’t know, it was simply this enjoyable juxtaposition and… I don’t know, it felt sort of vital to me to acknowledge that. And should you haven’t learn science of Lem, he’s superb. It’s best to do this.
Vitaly: Yeah. Nicely, luckily you don’t must go to Mars or to Moon so as to examine Marcin, and in addition learn his upcoming guide. You can too discover all of the fantastic particulars, clearly on Aresluna, which is aresluna.org. We’re additionally going to hyperlink to it within the notes, and you may also be notified in regards to the guide updates. And it’s actually, actually lovely and actually unimaginable and extremely beneficial, and the title is unbelievable, shifthappens.web site. Which I feel is a very, actually cool identify for a guide about keyboards. Nicely, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us at this time, Marcin. Do you might have any parting phrases of knowledge for people who find themselves going to take heed to us possibly 20 years from now, questioning why had been they speaking about keyboards? “We don’t even have keyboards anymore. We simply converse to computer systems now.”
Marcin: Oh yeah, we’ll have keyboards. There’ll nonetheless be QWERTY round.
Vitaly: So are you certain we’re going to have keyboards?
Vitaly: QWERTY keyboards? So will or not it’s like, I don’t know, contact slash, trackpad slash, no matter keyboard?
Marcin: No, there will likely be extra stuff, after all. There will likely be voice, there will likely be possibly some neural connections. However I feel keyboards will likely be with us for some time, as a result of they’re simply actually good at what they do. For higher or worse, QWERTY will likely be with us for a similar period of time, I’m fairly certain.
Vitaly: So in different phrases, you’re saying that your guide might be going to remain updated for the following 150 years.
Marcin: Hopefully as possibly historic artifact, possibly not. Yeah, it’s humorous, I simply realized that we by no means talked about the title of the guide, which is a advertising and marketing fake pas. Shift Occurs. Yeah, purchase my guide or do it on Kickstarter. However I’m joking. I imply, you don’t must. I might admire it. I feel it’s a enjoyable guide. I don’t need to pitch it too laborious, however suppose the “parting phrases of knowledge,” is that this complete factor occurred as a result of I simply regarded on the on a regular basis object that I believed is boring, and I discovered it wasn’t boring.
Marcin: It actually was not boring in any respect. So I suppose I’m curious for everyone who’s listening, are there different issues in your life which are price trying deeper into, and testing, and form of poking at and seeing what occurs? As a result of I feel the journey of the guide, we didn’t even discuss what number of actually attention-grabbing individuals I acquired to be taught from and to interview and to speak about. And other people for whom keyboards imply a lot greater than they ever did or will for me. And so I feel that will likely be my suggestion, should you go deep in one thing and see the place it takes you.