The Closet Moderate: Google better back up off me!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Google better back up off me!

Slate is reporting that Google's new prototype laptop keyboard lacks the internet's favorite key: CAPS LOCK.  Don't get me wrong: it's an idea whose time has come.  Caps Lock hasn't been useful in most internet users' lifetimes.  So good riddance.  But click through to that Slate article, and see what they've replaced it with: a search key.  I have one of these keys on my Android phone and, let me tell you, it's good for one thing and one thing only: accidentally hitting it while trying to push another button.  That's the only way this button gets any use on my phone, and the only way it ever will be used on computers.

But here's my bigger concern: the bright young men who run Google are starting to think they can fix everything.  In the field of advertizing and search engines, I support their efforts.  Even this Caps Lock think, as far as it goes, is not terrible.  But they should watch how they fool around with the rest of the keyboard.  These guys have a fin-de-siècle optimism and faith in humanity's willingness to accept rational change.  At the fin of the last siècle, this feeling as applied to language manifested itself in spelling reform.  Theodore Roosevelt was a big fan of this, and even tried to get the federal government to spell words like thru and thoro in new-fangled ways.  Thankfully, the inertia of the bureaucracy was too much even for TR to overcome.

Google, I implore you: Learn from Teddy's mistakes.  Keep your search-optimizing hands off my irregular spelling!

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