Friday, 7 September 2007

HaE bAy.b

When it comes to texting, it's clear that some of our users are initiates and some are pros. The initiates send messages and chat to each other like I do: They use T9 on their phones or a basic amount of phonetic txting. The pros are from AnOthr wUld altogether. It's quite difficult to read their messages because of irregular capitalisation and unfamiliar phonetic combinations of letters used. Try some of these out:

HeLlO hOwz it?hEhE! HeEhe tz aiiTe n yEW. YeA itz kOoL jSt At hOmE kikN bk iN mA rOoM!wAt bOut U? PweTiiE muj d saMe hea. i waNa n0e m0a bWt cheW ...

OK that was the easy stuff. Now try this:

HeHe awW mwAHr yiiP shuA huNii mwAHrz k0ntAK me weNeva k ...

We discussed this for a while trying to understand why they use capitals so much. Is it to accentuate parts of the words? Is it to look cool? Are they acidentally tapping the case switch button whilst typing like crazy?
We think we've worked it out: It speeds up typing. When you want to type two letters that are on the same phone key, you normally have to wait about a second for the cursor to advance before you can type the second letter. But if you change the case the cursor advances immediately and you can type the second letter without waiting. So in a typical text message a 'pro' user probably does it 5-10 seconds faster than anyone else. It seems that switching on and off the capitals becomes second nature after a while hence the alternate capitalisation of letters throughout the messages rather than just for those letters that share the same key.

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