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GUEST,LEJ Folklore: Railroad tracks (22) RE: BS: Railroad tracks 13 Jan 01

Look down at the keyboard of your computer. The arrangement of letters makes no logical sense, and is not ergonomically efficient. This is the so-called "QWERTY" keyboard, and it was designed to remedy a problem in the mid-1800s with the first typewriters: commonly used letters hit close together tended to jam the strikers, and so these letters were separated on the keyboard. Even though much more efficient and logical designs have been introduced, the QWERTY persists because millions of users are familiar with it.

Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs and Steel, uses this story as an example of the way in which a society may selectively reject a technical advance if the incentives for change are insufficient.

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