Friday, September 02, 2005

IBM's Shark

This isn't exactly new but I wasn't familiar with it before. Someone described this to me as if it was handwriting recognition, but it is not; it is 'rapid keyboarding' - 'shorthand aided rapid keyboarding,' hence SHARK. It definitely offers an alternative to qwerty for text entry, but one would want to start with a standardized pattern right off the bat. Use a stylus instead of trying to push those teeny weeny buttons on the cellphone or blackberry.

The IBM Almaden Research Center has a good set of webpages to answer questions. Also Alphaworks. Now be sure to view the demo, promise. Here is a post from a nice tech blog I hadn't seen before either jkOnTheRun .

My interest in this is whether it would work for writing systems other than the alphabet so that the qwerty keyboard would not be the defining parameter for a keyboard arrangement.

For example, what would the optimal number of letters be for this arrangment? How would the Cree , Cherokee or Vai syllabary look in this layout? 36 symbols, 85 symbols, 250 symbols, where is the cutoff? Can Vai be reduced to a smaller set of symbols necessary for writing Vai but not English loan words in Vai? That is the question?


Blogger The Matt said...

Looking at Michael Everson's (of course) Vai Unicode Proposal (PDF), I'm guessing you can't reduce Vai by much. Just taking out the red Massaquoi additions on page 8 still leaves a pretty huge syllabary.

Now imagine the SHARK board for Ethiopic, Ethiopic Extended and Ethiopic Supplement. I think there are about 500 characters in the "complete" Ethiopic range.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Suzanne E. McCarthy said...

Vai, hmm, I read the Vai Unicode Proposal, then I read Singler's chapter in World's Writing Systems by Daniels and Bright, then I read K. Tuchscherer. Singler says 40 - 60 symbols are commonly used. Everson says 350. Hmm. That is a real mystery! I a guessing that 90 - 120 would be about right but it seems a little high for SHARK.

Ethiopic is an alphasyllabary so there is probably a better solution - a way to pull up the rows by inputting the initial consonant. Have you seen the Tamil syllabic editor.?It only works in IE.


PS. I have had to edit these comments a little, getting rid of spam.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Here is an excerpt from an email from Tombekai Sherman, a Liberian consultant to the Vai Unicode Porposal.

"I find myself around a minimum of 200 characters. All of these characters are not used in every piece of writing. But they are all needed in order to communicate fully at all times. Old writers who use very minimum characters are difficult to be understood."

12:34 PM  
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10:08 PM  

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