Other Gadgets

The short and long of texting

| Updated on: May 21, 2014

A look at the hobby all of us unwittingly, obsessively indulge in

The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human. In case you’re wondering if I’ve mistakenly swapped the lead to another story with mine, you’re wrong. The complicated sentence you just read won 15-year old Gaurav Sharma his first Guiness World Record. He typed 160 characters-long text on a new Nokia device in just under 20 seconds.

I’m sure a lot of you reading this can give Gaurav Sharma a run for his money – what with the constant WhatsApp-ing and GTalki-ing that everyone is forever indulging in. But, chances are in the near future you might not even need a keyboard to type on.

Take Gauntlet, for example – it’s more a glove than a keyboard of any sort. The only difference being the company has built in a pattern of keys to correspond with the joints of your finger. So, every time you gesture it will type an alphabet for you. Taking it to another level is something called Grippity – where there’s neither a keyboard nor a glove. A tablet with a semi-transparent display, Grippity displays your fingers at the back when you hold the tablet, so you can see and select the icons instantaneously.

On a day to day basis, the idea of texting seems innocuous enough. However, in its 22 years of existence, texting has caused its fair share of scandals. We have come a long way since 2006 when the then-Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen got into trouble for breaking up with his girlfriend over a text message, something that is now de rigeur. A lot of other politicians, one of the latest being, Anthony Weiner, who resigned from the US Congress after a sexting scandal broke out, have had to give up on their potential careers due to a text. (Not every country is like India, where you can watch porn on your cellphone and get away with it!)

The world’s most popular micro-blogging site, Twitter, was also inspired by texting. In one of their earliest blog, they mention “Twitter’s 140 character limit was designed specifically to allow for any tweet to be read in its entirety on a rudimentary mobile phone”. This seems to working brilliantly for the company so far, which now has more than 250 million registered users!

Some might seem to rue the fact that texting has brought about the ruin of the written word, wth mst ppl tryng 2 ryt lyk dis. No wonder, after Gex X, this generation has been named Gen Text. Ironical though, that SMS pionner Matti Maikonen, who had first pitched the idea of a messaging service way back in 1984, was asked in a BBC interview if he “cn txtspk”, to which Makkonen (thankfully) replied, “No! My passion is to write correct language, using all 160 characters.”

Published on May 21, 2014

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