I won the Ultimate Typing Championship at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference in 2010 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9EXEpjSDEw; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GDusA21cEA). I held the world record on TypeRacer from 2010 to 2016, on Nitro Type from 2012 to 2018, and on 10FastFingers from 2015 to 2019, becoming the only person to hold the world record on all three of the most famous typing sites simultaneously. Recently, several people have surpassed my top speeds, but I still am regarded as having the fastest average in general. I have also won international championships, winning the Intersteno championship for fastest mother tongue typing six times ('10-'11, '13, '15-16, and '18) and the championship for typing across multiple languages twice ('11 and '12.) In the 2011 Intersteno contest, I set the fastest speed in nine different languages, tying Dan Chen's record for the most all time.

I am writing a book on the history of competitive typing titled Nerds Per Minute. This book will cover the entire history of typing from the invention of the mechanical typewriter to the modern Internet age. I recently launched a Patreon in the middle of April (https://www.patreon.com/seanwrona) where I am releasing one chapter on the 15th and one on the 30th of every month, with a scheduled completion date of December 15. The first two chapters will cover the invention of the typewriter, the development of the QWERTY keyboard and the home row method, and the early typing contests of the 1800s. The next three will cover the history of the international typing championships that were held from 1906-1946, when typing was considered a big deal and typists toured the nation like rock stars and competed at venues like Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall, which are still massive today. Chapters 6-8 will discuss respectively: the research of August Dvorak and the history of his keyboard layout, the history of international typing, particularly the Intersteno contest and its live events dating back to the 1950s, and the late 20th century typists of the mass media age (Cortez Peters, Jr., Ron Mingo, Barbara Blackburn, Michael Shestov, and so on.)

The last nine chapters from 9-17 focus on the current typing scene. Chapter 9 will discuss the history of typing computer applications, starting with the early DOS era typing games from the '80s but mostly focusing on the six online sites (other than Intersteno) that I consider historically important: TyperA, Typing Zone, hi-games.net, 10FastFingers, TypeRacer, and Nitro Type. Chapter 10 will focus on the first wave of online typing stars that predated me. The next three chapters will be biographical about myself, and I talk a lot about the Ultimate Typing Championship in Chapter 12. Chapter 14 will discuss the wave of typing stars after me. Chapter 15 will center on the streaming of typing games on Twitch, culminating in a discussion of The Clicking Championship, the most famous online typing championship. The next chapter will provide research I conducted on the fastest and slowest keys on the keyboard as well as which parts of the keyboard and individual words are faster than others. The final chapter goes into great detail about why I think the home row method is wrong, which fingers I use to type each letter of the keyboard, and when I make deviations. The second half is almost done, but the first half is hardly written yet. Having said that, I've already done most of the research I need to for that first half I believe.

I also have numerous unrelated hobbies as well. I launched a website http://www.race-database.com/ where I archived the entire history of most of the major league racing series, but I abandoned after 2015. That year, I created a spinoff http://www.racermetrics.com/ where I began creating my own advanced statistical analyses for auto racing in the same vein as what sabermetrics is for baseball. When I finish this book, I think my next project will be a ranking of the top 1000 drivers in motorsports history across all racing series. I also am a tournament Scrabble expert (https://www.cross-tables.com/results.php?playerid=21019) and won one tournament in 2015 but I haven't played in a few years. If you want to talk to me about racing, Scrabble, or anything else, that's certainly fair game too.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/arenasnow

Twitter proof: https://twitter.com/seanwrona/status/1253551421301166080

EDIT: I didn't realize that it would go live again when I responded to a post. Okay, I'm done for real now. You can PM me if you have any additional questions.

Comments: 161 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

nullrecord22 karma

I can't believe no one asked this yet:

Did you type the book yourself and how long did it take you?

I'll see myself out ...

arenasnow24 karma

I started writing in 2017 and I took many breaks, so this is going to be much slower than a lot of people wrote other books. Yeah, I know you were joking.

MasterYoshi518 karma

That is a really cool concept for a book! I hope the book does well as that is a topic I think most don't know about. I am actually intrigued on how you type.

Do you have a certain strategy for typing fast? And what got you into competitive typing?

arenasnow25 karma

I taught myself to type accidentally when I was 3 or 4 years old using a DOS application called CPT Personal Touch-Typing that came out in 1985. It is so old it predated Mavis Beacon. I reached 83 wpm on that game when I was 6 years old (http://seanwrona.com/typing1991.jpg) and 108 wpm when I was 10 (http://seanwrona.com/typing1995.jpg). Once I had my first computer with Windows 95 on it, I never used that again really and stopped using typing games in general, but I still continued to improve. My dad had a Windows-era typing game that unfortunately I can't remember the name of when I was 16. That game did not let you type faster than 199 wpm, but I was getting 199 wpm often enough that I think I was already hitting 200 sometimes then.

As for online competitive typing, it didn't really exist much before 2008 except for Intersteno (which really only the people who competed in the live contests in Europe knew about) and the websites TyperA and Typing Zone, which were both pretty obscure. I was first introduced to typing through a bunch of embedded Facebook apps in 2008. There used to be a ton of those and now almost none of them exist. My high school classmate Jordan Nott, who himself was also niche famous for suing his college after they expelled him (http://www.bazelon.org/nott-v-george-washington-university/) posted a link to a Facebook game called Facebook Typing Speed. I joined it on a whim in 2008 and was startled to find that Jelani Nelson and I were consistently 20 wpm faster than anyone else on the game. I knew I typed faster than anyone I met in my real life, but I didn't KNOW a lot of people, see? I figured in the abstract there were tons of faster people and I still do think that but I can't name any. Because it was linked to my Facebook profile, people started contacting me and telling me about all the other games.

raguna542011 karma

What is your WPM on any given day? Also do you do training for the competitions, if yes, how so?

arenasnow19 karma

My average speed on TypeRacer lately has been about 184 wpm. I have improved from about 164 wpm in 2010. When there's an upcoming competition on TypeRacer, I'll usually do 50 races a day on TypeRacer, which takes me about a half hour. That has always been my happy medium between racing too little to build up speed (it generally takes me a few races to build up to my average speed), and burning out by racing too much.

For Intersteno, I seldom ever train in English because I don't think I need to, but I usually try to do at least some practice in each of the foreign languages, where I need to build speed up more to be competitive (especially the Eastern European ones, which have lots of accent marks.)

deputypresident7 karma

That's Usain Bolt level right there. What's the optimum speed humanly possible do you think? 250 wpm?

arenasnow18 karma

Top speed? Taran just got 402 on this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5f2gkTIJBs). I say 394, but that's just nerdy nitpicking. I think maybe somebody could get 450-500 wpm on an easy quote like that.

Minute average? I think 250 is very possible on something like 10FastFingers that does not require punctuation or capitalization. I'd say 220 or 230 might be a more realistic limit for typing regular text over a minute. I personally don't expect that I will do any of these things, but somebody younger might.

Dantrano8 karma

What is the best site for improving speed?

arenasnow20 karma

I think it's TypeRacer. Intersteno 1-minute and 10-minute tests are probably a little too long unless you're already really dedicated. Nitro Type doesn't allow you to correct your errors, which a lot of beginning typists like but I find mildly annoying. 10FastFingers has very few words with capitalization and no punctuation, and practicing those is essential for typing IMO.

BananaBus435 karma

Do you have any tips to increase wpm once you stagnate? I've been at around 85 wpm for like 5 months now and I don't know how to improve.

arenasnow20 karma

You should see whether you are struggling more on speed or accuracy. If you are stagnating on speed, that means you are probably focusing too much on speed and should be typing a bit more aggressively. You should start trying to accelerate on any words 3-7 letters long that do not require you to repeat a letter or especially move any of your fingers. People think the fastest words are the most frequent words and to a degree that's true. 85 of the 100 most frequently used words in the English language are above average in speed on QWERTY, but they aren't the fastest words. The fastest words are usually 4-5 letter words that you can type in one singular motion, as if you are playing a chord on a musical instrument.

idrive2fast3 karma

How would you recommend improving accuracy? I'm sitting at about 100wpm and have been here for many years, but if I try to speed up I start making a lot more errors.

arenasnow1 karma

Slow down on any words longer than 7 letters or shorter than 3, or any 3-letter words that require to use either the same letter or the same finger.

tholo2k5 karma

Do you remember any of your earliest recorded WPM?

arenasnow5 karma

See my response to MasterYoshi.

flamingo4t4 karma

Do your fingers ache from typing so quickly, so much, so often?

arenasnow13 karma

No, I never hurt from typing at my average speed. The only typing that hurts is if you try to type substantially higher than your average in order to set a top speed record. I typed so hard competing with Guilherme Sandrini (Kukkain) on Typing Zone in 2010-12 that I occasionally made my ears pop sometimes. That is not fun. But I could type 170-180 wpm all day and all night for an hour or more without losing speed. It's only when you try to go above your natural rate of speed when it hurts, and some people do want to do that because they care more about top speed records than average speed records. For me, typing like that is not fun.

kanzure3 karma

Hey just wanted to drop by and show some support. Are there any keyboard manufacturers that are trying new things with a focus on competitive typing, or any hobbyist electronics projects that you've been watching that are trying something new to get more wpm?

arenasnow9 karma

HeyBryan. I am so much not a gearhead. I don't even necessarily think keyboards designed for speed are necessarily faster. I haven't really been any slower on keyboards that I spent $15-20 on than mechanicals. I think the only reasons for getting a mechanical keyboard are because they last longer (which they do) and because they are more comfortable (which they are), but I haven't really felt a speed difference, so I haven't really hung out much at places like Geekhack or /r/mechanicalkeyboards and therefore I'm kind of ignorant on those matters. I'm not really into electronics or techie stuff, at least compared to how I was when I was a kid.

Moretaxesplease3 karma

Why am I reading your responses really fast?

arenasnow3 karma

I don't know. Maybe you took speedreading? That's a talent I wish I was better at...

iplaydokkan693 karma

How long did it take you to type this ?

arenasnow8 karma

The header post you mean? About a half hour, but I did have to think about stuff and didn't type it instantly. It's much easier to type something somebody else has already written, that's for sure.

asbsw152 karma

Who are the top 5 typists right now (in your opinion) ?

arenasnow5 karma

Average speed: 1. me, 2. Chak, 3. Izzy, 4. Mako, 5. Michael

Burst speed: 1. Chak, 2. Taran, 3. Alpha Panda, 4. Bailey, 5. Rrraptor

Michael DeRoche is no longer active so maybe I should remove him from the lists. I'm not sure I'm even a top ten burster anymore, although I probably could be if I wanted to be. It just does not feel good to type like that.

WolfBream2 karma

How do you normally practice typing on a day-to-day basis? Also, what layout(s) do you normally use?

arenasnow6 karma

To be honest, I've been more interested in my research lately than actually typing. I don't enjoy it as much as I did in 2011 or 2012, but when I type, I usually do a half hour a day, which for me is 50 consecutive races on TypeRacer in the main universe. I have only ever used QWERTY, but I don't particularly follow the home row method because I put substantially more emphasis on placing my fingers around the most frequently used letters than a lot of typists do. Other layouts are definitely faster than QWERTY on the home row, so if you do prefer QWERTY, you'd be better off focusing on where the most frequently used letters are than what letters just HAPPEN to be on the home row.

The home row letters are only where they were because the home row was originally based on the first half of the alphabet.

The original layout for QWERTY was simply this:

ABCDEFGHIJKLM

ZYXWVUTSRQPON

The first half of the alphabet, followed by the second half backwards. You can still see this on the home row today, as DFGHJKL are 7 consecutive consonants. The vowels and semi-vowels (W, Y) were moved to the top row later intentionally along with several other consonants and the S was moved based on the recommendations of some telegraph operators in the 1800s, at which point the B and C were moved down. But yeah, the bottom two rows of the QWERTY keyboard are basically the alphabet. So I find it utterly bizarre given that knowledge that people are still trained to do typing drills focused on the home row when the top row is where the only thought was done on the original QWERTY layout. QWERTY predated the home row method, so using home row on QWERTY will certainly be inefficient when compared to using it on Dvorak and Colemak.

pie3142712 karma

1) Which people would you say are your greatest competitors?

2) Besides what you mentioned above, what else do you like to do in your free time?

arenasnow7 karma

  1. Historically, it was Jelani Nelson from 2008-2010 but then I overtook him as he focused (correctly) on his academic research while I was unemployed. After that, it was Kukkain. I had a faster average speed than him but he had a much faster top speed, and I had to push myself hard to compete with him and often still couldn't beat his top speeds despite putting I think even more effort into it than he did. Nowadays, it's Chak. He did beat me at The Clicking Championship last year but I still beat him more than half the time and I avenged my loss at The Typing Match this March.

  2. I like to compile statistics on everything (not just typing, racing, and Scrabble), although lately I mostly just read stuff: far too many political articles and criticism especially. I do lurk here a ton and read the debates, but am generally averse to participating in them.

minionsbutt2 karma

Does one must follow the ten finger rule to type fast? I type with 2-3 fingers and type average to other people with 11% error. Thanks

arenasnow5 karma

Erik Treider broke my all-time TypeRacer record using only four fingers. Most of us actually use nine fingers and don't use one of our thumbs. I don't think you necessarily need to use every finger, but I personally do think you need to use both index fingers, middle fingers, and ring fingers to type letters. Maybe you can live without using your pinkies and thumbs for letters, although I think even they can help. Most QWERTY typists are slowest on the letter x because it has numerous obstructions from more important letters (a, c, d, e, r, and s.) One way you can be faster on very slow letters like the x and c could be to use your left thumb. Alpha Panda does that and he's actually very fast on x, which most of the rest of us aren't, so probably using your thumbs for letters could help, but most of us don't do it. I don't think you actually need to use every finger, but the more fingers you do, the more it probably helps.

kythehuman2 karma

Hi Sean! A couple of weeks ago I developed a small typing game during one of the larger online game jams. I've been fascinated for a long time with games like Typing of the Dead, Epistory, and of course online games like TypeRacer.

Do you play video games other than typing and word games? If so, are they competitive or non-competitive? I wonder if most people are drawn to the community for the typing itself or the competitive nature of it.

arenasnow2 karma

I never really identified as a gamer, and it's been a long time since I played anything other than Scrabble or typing games, but that's not to say I haven't played lots of games. I played a couple racing games when I was a kid in the '90s, Papyrus NASCAR Racing 2 and an Al Unser, Jr.-licensed IndyCar game. I played tons of racing fantasy games and invented a couple of my own in 1999-2000, one of which still exists almost 20 years after I stopped running it. I didn't like graphical/visual games much and preferred text-based games. I played '80s DOS versions of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! often along with educational games like PC Atlas and PC USA. My favorite obscurity was this text-based adventure called Big Rig where you drove a truck hauling produce cross-country and as I recall you usually died in a crash due to sleep deprivation. I enjoyed the text-based adventure game for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy too.

As far as conventional/mainstream video games, they were usually too violent for me. I didn't like shooting things or anything like that so I wasn't into Doom or whatever even though many of my classmates were. The only two shooting games I ever did like were Wizard of Wor and (like most of the people in my age demographic) The Oregon Trail. I also liked Jumpman, which either ripped off Donkey Kong or vice versa (I don't remember which came first), and I enjoyed Tetris and its other knockoffs Welltris and Faces. So yeah, I played a bunch of things but I didn't really consider any of those one of my biggest hobbies or something.

I was I guess more of a nerd than a geek as I was way more into academic competitions: spelling bees, math league meets, and yeah, I guess Scrabble and typing sort of combine both of those skills in a weird way.

Scrabble was always my biggest gaming interest. I joined the Mensa Scrabble-by-Mail SIG when I was eight years old and was the youngest player in the history of the group. I was never a Mensa member but both of my parents were and my mom was one of the top players in that group for a while (she at one time had the second highest game score in the history of the group with a 718.) I never had interest in joining Mensa per se because IQ boasting is obnoxious and annoying, but I did really want to join the Scrabble group. I used to open my mom's games in the mail and the newsletters when I was like eight or something and tried to find plays on her games. When I once found a better play than she did, she got annoyed and asked me if I wanted to play my own and I said yes. I broke the youngest player record of Robert Slaven, a future five-time Jeopardy! champion, who joined the group when he was twelve (weirdly, his first game was against my mom in the '70s.) Later on in high school, I became the statistician of the group and did a 20-page statistical column every other month, greatly expanding upon the previous statistical columns. Besides Slaven and I, there were several other niche nerd celebrities in the group, including Chuck Armstrong (who won more Scrabble tournaments than any other player and only played one game in the group, set the all-time highest game score and never played again), Peter Morris (the first World Scrabble Champion), Doug Hoylman (the first person to win the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament six times), and Bob Lipton (who finished 3rd in the national and world Scrabble championships in the mid-'90s.) It was very different from tournament play as the top players all used word-finder references but it probably helped my strategic ability. Although I was a top ten player in the Mensa group by the time I graduated high school, it took me considerably longer to make connections to the actual tournament scene and as a result there are tons of younger players who are better than I am now. But as with typing, it doesn't really excite me as much as it once did. But yeah, I guess I was more of a gamer than a lot of people, but I have to say I enjoyed more academic or pseudo-intellectual games more than what would be considered conventional video games.

kythehuman1 karma

I spent many hours as an 8-year-old trying to calibrate the cheap plastic steering wheel we had so I could play that same NASCAR game. I’ll have to try to track down Big Rig :)

Your book sounds really cool and I’m looking forward to reading it!

arenasnow1 karma

Here you go.

https://dosgames.com/game/big-rig/

Maybe I'll record myself playing it on my YouTube at some point...

semro71 karma

What are your thoughts on if typing rhythm games existed? (something like that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSWy0A0ZAUE)

arenasnow1 karma

The idea of rhythm is a confusing one. The typists of the early 20th century used to stress "perfect rhythm" as essential for typing, by which they seemed to mean typing all words at the same rate of speed. This does not make sense to me, as some letters/parts of the keyboard/words are easier than others. You can't type all words at the same rate of speed, so if there's a game that attempts to train you to do that, effectively it's training you to type every character as slowly as you type the slowest character. That can be a good way of practicing accuracy, but not practicing speed. I think the 1920s and 1930s typists were actually doing that because William F. Oswald, the 1919 champion, managed to make only one typo over an entire hour in the 1921 international typing championship (although he lost that year because other typists were faster.) It seems like back then, typists did really slow themselves down rather than typing easier words more quickly and that may be why they got accuracy rates of 1 typo or fewer per minute, which seems astounding today (even Aaron Adams, the greatest accuracy typist today, tells me he doesn't think he can do that.) In the age of backspace, however, I don't think this matters so much anymore so the top typists these days are all faster and less accurate than the typists of days of yore.

tl;dr: I might recommend a rhythm game for someone who really struggles on accuracy, but I don't think it'll do anything to help your speed.

asbsw151 karma

Hey, sorry for being so late (I just thought of this), is there a summary of the interviews you've conducted with some fast typists also available in your book?

arenasnow1 karma

My interviews were informal enough that I'm not going to publish them but I can tell you who I've interviewed so far.

Aaron Adams, Alpha Panda, Byron Bernstein (Reckful), Chak, Eric Li Cheung, Kathy Chiang, Andrei Cristescu, Michael DeRoche, Fyda, Izzy, Mako, Takayuki Nakayama, Jelani Nelson, Robert Price, David Pritts, Guilherme Sandrini (Kukkain), Hunter Shaffer, Taran, Erik Treider, Vielle, Viper, Taro Yada, and Henry Zhou. Tried to be courteous there to the people who don't go by their full names most of the time.

There are still a few more interviews I have not managed to arrange yet, and other people I'm waiting to hear back from. I also interviewed the creators of TyperA, Typing Zone, 10FastFingers, TypeRacer, and Nitro Type along with the Intersteno head of competition and Martin Tangora, the son of Albert Tangora, the seven-time champion from the 1920s and 1930s.

klein_blue_1 karma

Hi. I am a big fan. My speed is pretty slow compared to someone who competes, but I still do a race or two on type racer and other sites daily. I’m stuck at about a hundred words per minute on average with my peak being a little over 150 with no errors. But I always make errors. A lot. What could get my backspace usage lower? Do you have any advice? My finger speed feels like I could average pretty consistently at a higher wpm than what I can achieve now but due to making errors ALL the time I find myself unsatisfied. I can easily touch type and I have maybe a dozen bookmarked typing sites on my web browser but I just can’t seem to polish up my overall accuracy. I burn out if I do it too much and there’s no progress so I’m sort of at a standstill. If you have any pointers I’d really appreciate a response. I hope I’m not doomed to my current average lol. Thank you for doing this. Very cool

arenasnow3 karma

Usually lack of accuracy is a sign that you are typing certain words faster than you should be. A lot of people assume that the most frequent words are the easiest to type, but that really isn't the case. Generally, more frequent words are faster than slower ones. But the fastest words tend to be three to five letter words, which are long enough that you can make up for the slight delay from getting from the space bar to the first letter of a word and short enough that you won't have to repeat fingers. The most frequent word in the English language is the, but it is only 287th fastest out of 3519 words on QWERTY, which means if you are typing it expecting it to be the fastest word because of its frequency, you'll get errors a lot. There's a reason the typo "teh" became a famous Internet meme.

For one of the later chapters of my book, I calculated the fastest and slowest words for each typist I included in my study by taking the average of the difference between each typist's overall average time in milliseconds and the average time in milliseconds it took to type that word.

For QWERTY typists the 50 fastest words that occurred frequently enough are these:

power spite life host talk tank real nose more notes ones list moves nations mouse lines most sail fail hear lives past going things live those admire rain move walk poet have peak person songs learn wings last something respond lies meal hate slings shoes warn times sometimes poets while

Generally, these are either words that do not force you to repeat letters or words that do not require you to move your fingers (even though sometimes repeats three sets of letters, you don't actually have to move your fingers from the s, e, or m while typing it.) But while all of these are common words, most of these are not THE most common. My guess is you probably type extremely common words like a, the, and of faster than you should be, and words like this not fast enough.

The slowest 50 words by the way were:

I worldly scratch I'll exact oh plutonium jolly betrayed jump wizard escaped rhythm deeds initial eleven faded dictated defy I'm essence artificial succeed coffee craft sacred scattered sweetness devastating philosophy sweet expect ship's exactly extent occurred gazed acted tax severe freeze ceases unnecessary swept fixed forced defense sweetest regarded elected

This may give you an idea what kinds of words you should speed up and what kinds of words you should slow down on. Personally, I think one of the keys to typing is maximizing your speed on the fast words and minimizing your speed on the slow words to such a degree that you are equally likely to make a typo on every word. That is probably the best compromise between speed and accuracy.

I included no words with capital letters except for I, I'd, I'll, I'm, and I've because those are the only non-proper name words do not have a lowercase form, and I included words that had apostrophes and hyphens in the middle of the word, but removed all words with any other kind of punctuation or capitalization, because naturally people will be slower on capitals and punctuation than they are on lowercase letters.

donkey_OT1 karma

Are you also super-quick at texting??

arenasnow2 karma

Oh, no. I never really grew up with cell phones and I have written way fewer texts than most people in my generation. Pretty much the only person I text is typing community celebrity Michael DeRoche, who after breaking the record for the most TypeRacer races ever (and at some point most of the other records) entirely got offline because he thought he was too addicted to being online. Keegan Tournay just broke Michael's all-time race count record on TypeRacer a couple days ago, by the way.

scottucker1 karma

Thoughts on Dvorak and other alternatives to Qwerty?

arenasnow4 karma

Dvorak and Colemak are superior to QWERTY for home row because those layouts are designed for home row while QWERTY was invented before home row was, and indeed as I said above started out just based on the alphabet.

The issue is that I don't think home row makes a lot of sense because people's fingers are not the same lengths. Everybody's index, middle, and ring fingers are longer than their pinkies and thumbs and sometimes substantially so. Those fingers also tend to be stronger and more dexterous as well. By forcing some of your most powerful fingers onto the middle row by scrunching them up, you are blunting some of their power. QWERTY is top row focused for a reason, because that is where the longest fingers want to go, and that is its biggest advantage.

Now Dvorak definitely has its own advantages in that it has fewer conflicts between letters to be typed with the same finger, has better balance between the left and right hand when there are more right-handed people in the population, and that it is easier to learn for a beginner typist. I'm not sure which of these advantages outweighs the other, but I don't think the difference between the layouts is very large.

There are extremely few elite Colemak and Dvorak typists compared to QWERTY, but there are also extremely few typists who regularly use those layouts to begin with, so I'm not sure whether the proportions are any different.

I think people are much more likely to discover QWERTY in their early childhood and that may be a lot of the reason for QWERTY's advantage too. Because Dvorak and Colemak are alternatives, people likely won't hear about them until their teen or college years and that may be too late to compete with me. That could be all it is too. I don't think QWERTY is in any way inferior though, and I think putting keys like the E, R, T, I, and O in positions where the longest fingers want to reach, rather than placing them on the home row, where you have to scrunch up some of your fingers to reach them better, is an advantage.

i-invented-sex-691 karma

One time a while back I played this typing game called Finger Frenzy where it tests how fast you type the alpahbet. I noticed that the top person on the leaderboard typed the alphabet in negative 6 seconds (or something like that, but I do remember it was in the negatives). How is this possible?

arenasnow1 karma

Either somebody was hacking or there was some glitch in the software. I've never heard of that game so I'm guessing it's pretty bad because people constantly rave about all the good ones.

For a more accurate list, there is this:

http://www.typingzone.com/?page=contest_az

INCADOVE131 karma

Would you recommend a website or program to improve typists that have to look at the keyboard while typing?

arenasnow3 karma

The best instructional guide was on http://urikor.net/, but that's a really hard site to access now (you have to use an old version of Internet Explorer I think) which might not be worth the hassle. Maybe for typing drills, I'd just recommend Nitro Type's sister site https://www.typing.com/, although I personally think typing drills aren't effective because the best practice for typing is typing itself, not practicing each portion of the keyboard. So I'd probably recommend just starting on TypeRacer because practicing asdf jkl; over and over does not help you in practicing typing actual texts.

SporadicDrive1 karma

Hello Sean, just like you said many of the typing speed records, which were once thought to be impossible to break, have been broken in the past years with the newer generation becoming more and more acquainted with computers. But of course, there are limits to what the human body can do. If you were asked to make a guess, what would you say is the limit for human typing speed (both for burst and long texts)? I personally believe that the latter must be pretty close to your current average

arenasnow1 karma

There's been an arms race for the top speed records on TypeRacer, which escalated from about 300 at the start of 2017 to 400 at the end of 2019. That happened so rapidly I could see something on the order of 450-500 being possible for the shortest and fastest quotes, but I think it might take a while to see it.

I think my speeds on longer texts can probably be broken. I actually don't hold the records for longer texts. Carlo Parisi averaged over 180 wpm typing Italian on Intersteno in 2014, which is faster than I have ever scored there, and Helena Matoušková also had a faster record score than I did at the Intersteno live event in 2003 at 191 wpm over an entire half hour in CZECH.

So yeah, I think a sustained average of 200 wpm in English is possible, since the lack of accent marks make it easier to type than Czech. I don't think it will be me though, but I could see a much more committed zoomer typist doing it.

speedburst011 karma

Always been blown out by your typing speed ! Insane

Can you tell us more about your upcoming book ? How is the writing going, discovering new passion? When did the idea begin and are you writing it all yourself?

As a typing ethusiast, I would definitely have a look at your book, it awakens my curiosity to know more about the man and about his typing obsession. ;)

arenasnow1 karma

I have easily more than enough details and research through historical archives along with my own research from the TypeRacer logs to fill a 500-page book, without having to go into anything vaguely related to typing like stenography and texting contests, which I originally thought of including but have since changed my mind.

I have much more passion for the book than I've had with actually doing typing lately. The post that most inspired me with the idea to write a book was this post by Robert Messenger, a historian who runs the Australian typewriter museum:

https://oztypewriter.blogspot.com/2014/11/last-days-of-speed-typing-glory.html

I knew a little bit about some of the early 20th century typing champions from Richard Hofmeier, an indie video game designer who made the extremely critically acclaimed game Cart Life. His next release last year was Type Dreams, where he featured most of the great typists throughout typing history as playable characters. He asked me if he could draw a cartoon caricature of me for the game and I agreed. After that, we talked a bunch of times and he told me tidbits about typing history. So I guess these two people had the most influence on the book.

Yes, I'm doing all the writing, the research, and the interviews myself, although I certainly had input from a bunch of people who I will be crediting in the acknowledgments (not just Messenger and Hofmeier.)

TheHumanRavioli1 karma

Hey what’s your most WPM ever, in competition or unofficial?

Also, how fast do you think you could type out your book cover to cover?

arenasnow3 karma

On Typing Zone, I typed the following nonsensical quote at 232.77 wpm:

"I can move his life like a computer can move your life since our life moves the computer like your computer moves your life."

http://www.typingzone.com/index.php?month=2012-01&page=archives

But I didn't even win. That's how ridiculous Kukkain was on the burst typing quotes back then. Typing Zone calculates wpm averages differently from most other sites, because apparently in Europe a word is defined as 6 characters, while it is defined as 5 characters in the US, so you need to multiply these by 1.2 to get the actual speed. That corresponds to 279.3 wpm in the American system, which is I believe the fastest speed I've posted somewhere, although I believe when you adjust by lag, my fastest TypeRacer speeds are something similar to that. There are already like a dozen people who have gotten 300 scores and I'm not sure I can.

My book is going to be about 500 pages, so it might take me more than an entire day. Yeah, I know I'm gonna likely have to make edits from that. Hopefully, I'll be able to attract a conventional publisher and an editor who will tell me what I should cut, but I feel I'm going to have to end up self-publishing in actuality.

mkosett1 karma

Do you think it is wise to switch to other layouts to type faster?

arenasnow2 karma

If you really want to use home row, you probably shouldn't be using QWERTY on it because QWERTY was not designed for it. If you optimize QWERTY to focus on putting your fingers near the fastest letters, you should not switch. If you honestly prefer Dvorak or Colemak, you shouldn't switch either. If you're already past 100 wpm or something, I wouldn't recommend switching either since it would likely take you years to build your speed up on another layout.

July_Sandwich1 karma

What’s the most annoying question you get asked when people find out you’re the ultimate typing champion?

arenasnow2 karma

When people ask me generally for my "secrets" without asking me a specific question.

When people ask me if I write things faster because I type them faster (which I know several people have already done.)

Most of all, when people contact me to make fun of my social skills or ask me too much detail about my personal life on the Discord chat rooms (you can bet I've had a couple of semi-stalkers there.)

dlroWylenoL1 karma

I saw one video of you doing multiplications very fast, what's the story behind that? You like maths? How you do that or how you learned to do it?

arenasnow2 karma

I was just as into that as typing. I used to spend hours on end as a 3 or 4 year old messing around with my mom's scientific calculator and memorizing all the values for each function for the numbers 0 and 1, and I memorized all the powers of 2 from 2 to 67,108,664 and stuff like that. I discovered on my own that the differences between square numbers consistently increases by the next odd number, like so:

1 1+3=4 1+3+5=9 1+3+5+7=16 etc...

I figured out that you could take square numbers more quickly if you added and subtracted by the same number and then added the square of the difference. For example, to calculate 98 squared:

982 = (96*100)+4 = 9604

Some of these things I discovered by myself; others I think I picked up from pop math books like Mathemagics by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer. But I was honestly more renowned in grade school for my math prowess than my typing prowess, although both were noticed. People in high school used to follow me around and ask me to answer math problems for them in the hallways between classes, which I would usually answer before they could finish entering them into the calculator. It was very weird, but I suppose it made me about as popular as it was for a nerd to be in that era. I felt sorry for all the other nerds who didn't have that. I supposedly set the all-time high score record for my middle school's honors math entrance exam, and I also ranked tied for 22nd among New York 7th graders on a statewide math contest (http://www.old.mathleague.com/reports/1997_98/grade678/NY_7.HTM). I hugely failed to live up to my potential at any of that stuff though. But it was generally more noticed back then than my typing was, even though my typing was certainly more impressive. The typing was noticed though.

KnowsAboutMath1 karma

What are your thoughts on musical typing?

arenasnow2 karma

It's fun to use something unconventional like that as a percussion instrument. I first heard about that in 2013 when I went to the Cincy Typing Challenge and they screened a documentary in that Cincinnati exhibition hall there that I saw: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2218080/. There was a woman there who used the typewriter as a percussion instrument. It wasn't a new idea though. I believe Birdie Reeve Kay typed in vaudeville shows in the 1920s, Cortez Peters, Sr. "played" the typewriter in some of his typing exhibits and his son and Ron Mingo did so as well. Mingo I think was the most fun (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr0DUTWOgU8). Weirdly, Mingo was also MC Hammer's baseball coach. There's the weirdest irrelevant factoid in typing history.

Mriamsosmrt1 karma

What kind of keyboard(s) do you usually type on?

For in person championships like the one in the videos are you allowed to use your own keyboard or do you have to use the provided one?

arenasnow3 karma

This cheapo Logitech K270 has been my favorite model for years, mainly because if I had the money for mechanical keyboards, there are a thousand other more important things for me to spend the money on. I guess I'd buy a mechanical if all keyboards were the same price though, but more for longevity or comfort reasons than for speed (I don't think speed differences are very large.)

The Ultimate Typing Championship was sponsored by Das Keyboard so they only let us use their brand. Similar for the Cincy Typing Challenge, which was sponsored by TREWGrip, which was an utter monstrosity that I could never figure out (http://www.trewgrip.com/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1).

Mriamsosmrt1 karma

That grip thing looks really weird. It seems like typing on it would be extremely different than typing on a regular keyboard.

arenasnow3 karma

Indeed it is. I could not figure that out in time and since it was a prototype back in 2013, it didn't even properly register all the keystrokes. I was brought in as a ringer from Syracuse while all the other competitors were Cincinnati natives, and I was unable to arrange transportation back to the finals, but I would've lost anyway. It ended up being more of an engineering exercise figuring out how to use the machine and while I might have been the best typist there, I wasn't the best engineer so I'm glad in retrospect I ended up being unable to make the finals.

Username678891 karma

Is it possible to buy a copy of your book if I live in Europe?

arenasnow1 karma

Well, I have Patreon subscribers from outside North America, including one from Australia. After that, I intend to publish internationally enough that it will be accessible to anyone, but if I'm forced to self-publish, it's possible that won't be the case.

cobaltcollapse1 karma

What's the coolest tangible award you've won?

arenasnow2 karma

I haven't won many things that I can touch except for a bunch of Intersteno medals they sent me in the mail. They also sent me some certificates as well. I also won a shirt at the preliminary round of the Cincy Typing Challenge, as well as that Das Keyboard shirt I wore in the Ultimate Typing Championship, which I still wear sometimes. I did have that oversized $2000 check that was displayed in the Ultimate Typing Championship video but I wasn't allowed to carry it onto the plane back from Austin so I don't have that anymore.

To be honest, my favorite typing heirlooms are books. The Intersteno people sent me a book on the history of the first 125 years of the Intersteno organization. I myself tracked down a bunch of other typing books, including some of the original championship texts that were used in the 1920s (I haven't really looked at them, but that was awesome.) Also, an original copy of The Typist's Vadamecum, the book that Margaret Owen (the 1910s champion) wrote, which was a similarly hard find. I also bought and got a lot of key information from August Dvorak's book Typewriting Behavior along with a couple other histories of the typewriter, Richard Current's The Typewriter and the Men Who Made It and Bruce Bliven's The Wonderful Writing Machine. So yeah, I care more about the books I've picked up over the years than the tangible awards. To me, the accomplishment is worth more than some token to certify the accomplishment.

WeathrNinja1 karma

Hey Sean, I’m a mod for the NT discord and subreddit, I joined back in 2012 when the site was still in infancy as you did. My question is: how did you find Nitro Type, and how has the typing community as a whole helped you over the years?

arenasnow1 karma

The same way I found out about every other site. People contacted me and told me about it. I never really sought out any of the other typing sites or looked for them or anything. People just kept contacting me and inviting me to a bunch of other sites. It was nice to not have to make any effort to find this stuff...

There really wasn't much of a typing community after the original Jelani era until the Discord era. That 2011-16 period was kind of a dark period in terms of social engagement, except I guess on Nitro Type, which is why that site blew up. However I'd say the typing community now contains many of my closest friends and is almost one of the only things keeping me engaged at this point.

themanyfaceasian1 karma

What activities did you stop doing to protect your fingers from getting possibly hurt?

arenasnow2 karma

Nothing. I have terrible posture and don't have a particularly ergonomic keyboard, and my hands have never hurt (I'm probably causing issues with the rest of my body because of my bad posture, but not my hands or my wrists.) I just tend to avoid bursting above my average speed range. In my opinion, you'll never get hurt unless you're typing faster than your natural average for an extended period of time.

dlroWylenoL1 karma

What are the most important factors that influence in the type-learning process?

arenasnow1 karma

In my opinion, it's mastering the angular motions between any two keystrokes and avoiding pauses. Avoiding pauses means more than just accuracy. It means you always need to keep the next word in mind while typing the previous one and as much as possible, preparing your hand to move to the next word so you don't have to have an awkward pause when you make a space. It means you should be generally aware of spelling and grammar rules so you don't mess up when you're typing. And mainly, it means making sure you move your fingers as close to the letters you need to type as possible, which a lot of people don't do because they believe home row is legitimate, which on QWERTY it really isn't.

PCSaccounting1 karma

Hey, big fan of you for awhile now? Glad you're doing an AMA! I've been playing Typeracer for about ~1 year now. What are your best tips for improving? Currently I'm 120WPM and I'm looking to get 150wpm by the end of the year.

arenasnow1 karma

I think the biggest thing (and this is from my recent research) is focusing on centering your hands closer to the most frequently used keys and away from the home row, but there are people who are fast on the home row who would argue otherwise, so this could just be a personal opinion. Obviously, if you're using Dvorak or Colemak, which are actually designed for home row, I'd have a different answer.

taylorgoal1 karma

Hey there! I’ve been on typeracer since I had to take a mandatory typing class in 7th grade and now here I am, a junior in college still at it. I always saw your name and thought you were cheating to be honest, but seeing you still around is awesome. How did you find out you had a passion for competitively typing and what do you suggest to those that are at a 120 - 140 wpm range? Thanks!

arenasnow3 karma

No, I never cheated. I seemed to be on the pace to be some kind of math and computer prodigy at one point when I was a little kid, but I fell off it. I was never interested at all in breaking or disrupting anything and although I probably could have easily taught myself how to be a hacker or something, I was just never interested in it because I didn't think it was a good thing to do, which ultimately made me less employable I guess, alas... TypeRacer actually has a universe that allows people to test cheating applications, but I never used that either.

I wouldn't say I ever had much passion for it. When I was a little kid, I would have considered math, Scrabble, and auto racing to be my bigger interests. That's the weird thing. I developed these skills but it wasn't something I especially cared about in the way a lot of other people seem to. Honestly, over the last decade, my fans got me more into it than I ever was but it's still fun to be good at something.

My suggestions for improvement would differ depending on whether you think you are good at speed or accuracy. If you're better at one, you should focus on the other, so I'd need to know if you are having issues with accuracy to properly answer that I guess.

NoThisIsJohn1 karma

Hi Sean - what are your favorite memories related to typing across your career? Are there any special barriers you've broken or cool stories?

arenasnow3 karma

Finally breaking Jelani Nelson's TypeRacer world record of 232 wpm and shattering it with a 247 was cool. Accidentally breaking my own record with a 256 while I was recording myself typing all the texts for the original iteration of Noah Horn's TypeRacerData was cooler. I wouldn't say I've broken a lot of new barriers since 2012. My fans honestly got me more into it than I ever was myself, and I'm largely there for the community now, so I'd honestly say a lot of my favorite memories are from the typing Discords now, which provide socialization that wasn't there ten years ago (back then we used the comments sections of TypeRacer blog posts, which used to be way more frequently populated.)

Lucasorino1 karma

Do certain days feel faster for you? Or are you very consistent at this point? I’ve also been into lucid dreaming lately and I’ve always wanted to type in dreams, and compare real world benefits (because anything to do with muscle memory is actually translated even better in dreams). Anyways, the reason i mentioned this is because I was wondering what you think are the most time efficient typing exercises? I’m asking this because I can try and correlate these exercises in dreams because obviously conscious dreaming is less time then real world, so more anaerobic exercises might be the way to go.

arenasnow3 karma

I definitely have day-to-day variation just like anybody else, but I tend to have more variation within a session. I start off way slower in my first races in a day than I am about 20 races later, all the time.

The most efficient typing exercises in my opinion would be typing exercises that most reflect everyday real typing. Which means practicing letters, spaces, and words as they actually occur in English and not doing asdf jkl; stuff. The digraphs or combinations of two letters are what is most important. Mastering the most efficient techniques for minimizing the time it takes to position your fingers at certain angles is the most efficient strategy for typing, so you want to spend most of your time focusing on the two-letter combinations that occur the most. With conventional drills, you have to type things like jk, which don't even occur in everyday text (the only one I can even think of is Reykjavik.) So yeah, the closer you have to an everyday text, the better it will serve as efficient practice in my opinion. That's why TypeRacer and Nitro Type are both better for that than something like 10FastFingers is IMO.

Elf_Portraitist1 karma

Hey Sean, thanks for the AMA. You mentioned on your website that you learned to touch-type when you were around 3 years old. Did your parents introduce you to typing or was it something you discovered on your own? I find it pretty amazing that someone so young could even learn to touch-type!

arenasnow6 karma

My mom is disabled with multiple sclerosis, although she had not been diagnosed at that time. She was also having lots of seizures (hundreds a day), which meant she couldn't spend as much time taking care of me as a lot of other parents could, so I had an unusual amount of time to myself. Thankfully, her epilepsy fully healed a few years later. I'm also autistic so I had the capacity to obsess over a thousand different things to a degree a lot of other people couldn't. I never considered typing to be my biggest hobby. It was just one of a bunch of things I did.

They largely installed that typing application as an attempt to distract me from my tendency to mutilate operating systems. I did tons of experimentation with my old DOS computers in the late '80s, writing batch files, creating and deleting large directory structures, and deleting the most important DOS files (command.com and config.sys) just to see what would happen. My mom briefly ran the Epilepsy Association of Central New York and had a membership database, which I deleted and she was pissed. I guess it was an attempt to keep me from wreaking havoc on DOS. My parents were also afraid in my zest for experimentation that I would format the hard drive, so they changed the name of the format application to fivemat, but I did not get the pun. I DID however have all the dates, times, and file sizes for all the DOS applications memorized (or I looked it up - can't remember this) from some DOS manual I dogeared in that era so I quickly figured it out. However, by that sense I had enough sense not to format the hard drive.

SmashBros-1 karma

Where do you see the limit being? I think it's likely we see a 240 on 10fastfingers eventually. Not sure about 250

arenasnow3 karma

Well, the site runs on entirely binary code so the maximum score it will allow is 255 wpm. I definitely think somebody will achieve that at some point, because I think a lot of the zoomer typists are a lot more obsessive and practice harder than any of us millennial typists did. Most days in my life I didn't practice typing at all, but there's going to be somebody who is that devoted and spends like every day between the age of 6 and 25 on 10FastFingers or something, and yeah... I can totally see that happening. The jump between 233 and 255 is massive, but I don't think unbreakable.

scottucker1 karma

Maybe the zoomers will have their own typing competition on cellphones. 🤔

arenasnow3 karma

Texting competitions exist and they're sadly substantially more lucrative.

https://www.npr.org/2012/08/09/158494225/its-not-gold-but-fastest-us-texter-wins-big

This guy won $50,000 in back to back years, which paid more than half of his college. I only won $2,000 doing this. Texting has historically been much better rewarded by society than typing in recent years, although the top typists back in the '20s and '30s when they toured the nation did receive big salaries equivalent to $100,000 today.

AuthenticWolf1 karma

Hey thanks for the AMA.

I have four questions:

1) How old are you?

2) What would you say on how age affects speed and does it have an affect in the first place?

3) Were you faster younger or now?

4) I started with average 52wpm, and now my average is around 100wpm, little under(139wpm tops). But I achieved that three years ago after 3 months of everyday practicing. Now I'm not improving at all for three years almost. I tried focusing on speed, not to worry too much about precision, I tried focusing on typing words precisely and not focus on speed, learned to "quickly"change typos, but nothing seems to help. Btw I'm 23. Any advice?

Sorry for long questions!

Greetings from Serbia. :)

arenasnow1 karma

  1. I'm 35.
  2. I have steadily slightly increased in speed my entire life. I have not declined yet, although I do think a lot of people slow down in terms of their top speed ability after the age of 25.
  3. Faster now.
  4. Like I told the other person, focus on slowing down on any words longer than 7 letters or shorter than 3 letters, or any 3-7 letter words that do not have repeat letters or require repeat fingers. It's okay to speed up on any words that do not meet these criteria. I might slow down a bit on the word the though, since I think people try to type that faster than they should.

Thatdudeclutch1 karma

Can you make a video playing typing of the dead?

arenasnow1 karma

Maybe I'll do that, but I think I'll probably try looking up Mavis Beacon and the game I learned on first.

NILCLMS1 karma

Do you use membrane or mechanical keyboard?

arenasnow2 karma

Right now, I'm using a membrane. I don't have any problems with mechanicals though except that if I had the money to spend on them, there are many more important things I could use the money for instead. Mechanicals last longer and are more comfortable, but I don't really see a speed difference. Except on rubber domes or laptop keyboards. I personally think those are slower, although there are people who are faster on laptops than they are on desktops.

Donkhit1 karma

How did you learn to type so fast ? Like my god ive never seen a guy type so fast in my life , do you train your brain just to type fast ?

arenasnow1 karma

I taught myself to type when I was three and I think the real keys were that it was entirely self-driven and also that I taught myself rather than directly following the program's instructions. Almost all typing programs teach people the home row method when that is inefficient for QWERTY. I didn't really pay much attention to the instructions that my programs directed me to do, so as a result, I never limited myself to inefficient fingerings.

landarian1 karma

At your speed, are you straining yourself to be able to go that fast or is it more relaxed?

arenasnow1 karma

Relaxed when I'm typing at my average speed, but very tense when I'm trying to type faster than my average for an extended period.

mxlxdx1 karma

Have you travelled much? does nature/the outdoors appeal to you or do most of your hobbies take place online?

arenasnow1 karma

I like walking around by myself sometimes when there's nobody else around me. I haven't really done that since coronavirus. I'm not into traveling. Couldn't afford it and there are too many sensations from the new experiences that would stress me out. If I wanted to travel I'd definitely want to be in more isolated places rather than sightseeing famous landmarks or something.

arenasnow1 karma

I'm gonna close up shop in 15 minutes if I don't get any more responses. If I do, I might stay on longer.

MAClEJ1 karma

How was the ultimate typing tournament organised?

arenasnow1 karma

From early November 2009 to the end of that year, competitors competed on the TypeRacer clone TyprX (which is still out there if you want to use it, but now overrun by cheaters: http://app.typrx.com/). There was a leaderboard listing the top 20 scores and the top 6 people who responded to their email and ruled eligible competed in the semifinals. You had to be 18 years of age or older at the time and born in the US to qualify. Jelani Nelson posted the fastest speed barely over me and although he was an MIT grad student and living in Massachusetts entirely, he was initially ruled ineligible because he was a U.S. Virgin Islands native. They talked about waiving that for him but he decided not to compete because he didn't agree to their using the marketing of his image.

https://www.ultimatetypingchampionship.com/leaderboard/

Several people were ruled ineligible or decided not to participate. Kukkain tried but he was a 16-year-old Brazilian, Benjamin Dickman was apparently studying in China and they refused to fly him over, and so on, so my five opponents were Noah (4th), Felice (6th), Dan (9th), Nate Bowen (12th), and Jack (14th.) Kevin Tejan (KevinT in 10th) actually beat my eventual opponent but forgot to check his email and didn't realize he'd advanced because he wasn't in the top six. He later committed suicide and I'm dedicating the book to him.

Dan, who had won two Intersteno championships and was one of the fastest typists on every site back then, finished 2nd to me in all three rounds of the semifinals, but had been recently hired at an investment bank and they didn't let him off for the finals, so Nate, who finished 3rd twice and 4th once in the semifinal matches, just nosed out Noah to be my opponent. You can see there that Nate was never anywhere near my top speed and I wasn't worried once my opponent was Nate instead of Jelani or Dan, but I shouldn't have been so cocky in the videos and I regret that.

Streetfighterlan1 karma

Hey Sean! I had the pleasure of racing you during the TTM tournament. My question is, how much typing do/did you practice daily to achieve speeds of 200+ WPM?

arenasnow2 karma

I don't think I ever spent more than an hour or two a day practicing typing, but I can't say I really remember. I just think there were other things I enjoyed doing more: playing with calculators, reading reference books (especially almanacs), inventing an imaginary planet and drawing hundreds if not thousands of maps of that planet's city... I think my advantage was more from starting young than the amount of intense practice.

Norgeroff1 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

arenasnow2 karma

I don't even remember but I walked into my bathroom to check and confirmed it was green. Not something I really think about much.

RobotButlerCo1 karma

Hi Sean.

I know you've said before you won't switch to Dvorak or Colemak but, hypothetically, say you did... What training regimen do you think you would follow to get back up to speed?

Which sites, utilities, and how much time a day would you set aside?

I'm a bit late to the party but I hope you see this question.

arenasnow2 karma

I'd probably spend between an hour or two a day for a while on TypeRacer, which I think is the best preparation for everyday typing. I'd also spend a lot of time staring at pictures of the keyboard until I could recite every letter placement in my head and then begin practicing the different motions.

RobotButlerCo1 karma

Hmmm ok. What exactly do you mean by practicing the different motions? You mean like blind typing letters once you've memorised the new layout until you're accurate? Or you just mean how your hands move for particular words?

arenasnow1 karma

I think something like that, yes. I think the finger motions between each pair of letters matter more than the finger motions in an individual word.

jude_da_dude17381 karma

Any tips on improving accuracy?

arenasnow1 karma

Slow down on any words that require you to repeat fingers, as well as any words that are shorter than three letters or longer than seven letters. Those are probably two of the best things you can do for accuracy.

tiger-boi1 karma

Whoa! Saw your AMA in the Typeracer Discord.

What are your thoughts on the use of steno in competitive typing?

arenasnow2 karma

I don't have a problem with people using stenographic methods in typing as long as they are open that they are doing it. The stenographers on TypeRacer all have this little symbol they use to identify themselves (ᗜ) and they tend to be very transparent that they are using stenographic methods. I know there are some people who want to see them banned or see them on a separate list. I don't particularly have a problem with them appearing on the high scores lists myself.

Intersteno, which is considered the most official typing contest, allows people who use stenographic methods and typists along with people using various macros to compete against each other. I did create macros myself to type accented characters in foreign languages. Like I would use Ctrl+A to type an á or stuff like that. As long as you aren't pretending to be typing conventionally, I don't care.

It's fun to compete against the steno guys. Although they end up achieving top speeds that people on conventional keyboards can't match, it tends to be very different on average since stenographers also make many more errors. Mark Kislingbury, a former world stenography champion, competed on Intersteno three straight years in 2016-18 and I beat him all three years to win the mother tongue championship, although I ended up being disqualified in 2017 because I posted this YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhDZWjH0o3w) before the contest ended, which would have theoretically allowed people to cheat by seeing the English text before it was over. That annoyed me at the time because it was my highest Intersteno score over, but now I almost have to laugh. Most people are considered legitimate for providing video recordings of their typing, and I must be the first person in history to LOSE a score after providing a video recording, which is actually sort of a more fun distinction than if I'd just won it yet another time.

forever_sick1 karma

Do you take breaks? (if so, how long) And have you ever concerned about hand arthritis?

arenasnow2 karma

While I type most of the day in terms of everyday typing, I seldom type competitively more than about an hour a day, and there are weeks and months where I don't even do that, so I rarely if ever wear my hands out typing. I do have a bunch of health issues (Asperger's, anxiety, depression, the ARFID eating disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia - somewhat unsure about the last diagnosis) that affect me badly sometimes, but my hands and wrists are honestly one of the least likely parts of my body to hurt, probably because they are what I have exercised most.

DFWPunk-11 karma

Why, on Earth, would anyone not related to you, read a book on competitive typing?

arenasnow6 karma

There's an audience. It's probably not a large one, but they're out there. I look at the success of Stefan Fatsis's Word Freak (about Scrabble tournaments), Ken Jennings's Brainiac (about trivia competitions), and Joshua Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein (about memory competitions) and I see a precedent. I consider all three of those books to be significant influences on my own. Ditto the success of the spelling bee documentary Spellbound and the Donkey Kong documentary The King of Kong, which were also very successful, at least within their small niche and in terms of critical acclaim.

People underestimate how big this is all the time. Would you believe that the Alexa ranks for 10FastFingers, Nitro Type, and TypeRacer are all less than 12,500? Those sites are all comparable to or greater in popularity than the official websites for Brown University, NASCAR, and the FOX television network. I believe there is an audience and a growing one.