Why do we type with the thumb and why does it affect what we have written?

Over the years our writing habits have changed, starting with a feather and evolving to light touch on the screen • Each of these writing methods also affects the language and nature of human communication • The implications of technology are significant: “We may talk to machines in the future ”

In the last two decades and especially since the proliferation of smartphones, the finger that works the hardest in our hand while writing is the thumb. This is a significant change in the history of writing in general and typing in particular. New research claims that change affects not only the way we write, but also the content itself, which is increasingly written by algorithms.

The study, conducted by Dr. Ido Ramati of the Department of Communication and the Cultural Studies Program at the Hebrew University and recently published in the scientific journal Convergence, examines the historical variability of human and machine interfaces in typing – from the invention of typewriters to Contemporary typing on smartphones – and shows how typing using thumbs is a new and precedent-setting phenomenon in human history.

With the help of research, it is possible to better understand the relationship between human beings, different social phenomena and the devices through which these behaviors are carried out. For example, choosing emojis or whole words using the virtual keyboard is easier than typing word for letter, because the keyboard does not actually fit the size of the thumb, thickest and strongest finger.

A possible implication of this is that we use more of what the algorithm offers us – such as gifs, emojis or words from the virtual keyboard, instead of the words we choose ourselves. This means that writing today is not an exclusive product for man but is collaborative for humans and machines alike.

In general, the way we write has changed over the years, while in the early twentieth century people aspired to type with all ten fingers, the invention of the computer mouse added to this the connection between the eye and the hand and the coordination between them. According to the researcher, the use of thumbs rearranges the traditional division of labor between the fingers and the palm. The thumbs, which historically supported the grip of writing instruments, are now used alone for writing, while the other fingers, such as the index finger, first move to a position that supports writing. The article connects the techniques we write with the cultural products that characterize the period – if the era of writing with ten fingers was characterized by the order and organization of the letters on the page, then the era of writing with thumbs is characterized by high flexibility and creativity – for example using emojis, gifs, stickers and more.

Dr. Ramati adds that “when it comes to technology, there is not just one factor that creates the change but a variety of factors that produce the interface. With us for over 150 years. In the future we may only talk to machines or transmit thought waves to them in telepathy, but we may well continue to type. “Of a variety of considerations, needs, pressures, forces, behaviors and conventions. In my opinion, this is how the future of the connection between human beings and their technologies will continue to be characterized.”

By Editor

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