I started the CAPSoff campaign with nothing more than a blog, a Google group, a story, and half an hour to waste. In two weeks we hit every major geek news site, then the blogs, then the radio stations and the printed media. As the story spread, people looked at their keyboards and thought, "yes, time for a change!"
And the ideas kept pouring in. Two enter keys, like pinball flippers. A Control key. A second backspace. A mute button. A boss key. A key to eject the CD-ROM drive. The infamous missing 'Any' key.
And people pointed out other problems. The Ins key. All the other legacy keys. The cry "what is this key actually for?" went around the world as people looked at their SysRq, PrtSc, NumLock, Scoll Lock, Ins keys with a new scepticism.
And people said, "actually, when you think about it, the whole keyboard is ripe for change".
It's not just the English qwerty keyboard. The world's keyboards are bizarre hybrids, stuffing accented characters into odd places and filling valuable spaces with characters no-one ever uses. Tiny countries like Luxembourg and Belgium use three totally different layouts, even though many people have to use the same layout to work in multiple languages. IBM have a nice site that shows the national and regional layouts we use around the world.
Some people like their regional keyboards, it makes them feel special. "Well, we didn't get a seat at the UN Security Council", they can tell their chief minister, "but at least we got our own keyboard". But do we really need fourty-four different keyboard layouts in Europe, for instance? None of these keyboards are really that great. They are all based on a design that IBM admits "was selected to slow down typists in the days of mechanical typewriters."
Now, keyboards are defined by the ISO9995 standard, an international standard that covers most conventional keyboard layouts across the world. The Caps Lock position is part of the ISO9995 standard. The computer industry blindly implements standards, good or bad. So to kill Caps Lock, we need to make a new keyboard standard.
Changing an international standard is impossible for ordinary people like you and me. You don't like the Caps Lock key? Don't like the way Del (often used) and Ins (another 'do not touch' key) are right next to each other? Don't like that correcting a mistake is slower than it should be? Find that your wrists hurt when you type too much? Well, tough cookies, you're just a consumer, and all you're allowed to do is spend your money. Here, try yet one more expensive ergonomic keyboard that blindly follows the outdated ISO9995 standard!
Well, we're not just consumers, if we work together. Individually, we can't do more than complain, rip that key out, or buy a non-standard alternative. Collectively, we can move mountains, and we can certainly change the keyboard standard. It's just a matter of pressure, noise, and publicity.
The CAPSoff campaign has already changed the world, as millions of people have opened their eyes and said, "yes, yes, I always knew it was broken!" I said, we'd change the world, one key at a time.
Well, now it's time for the next shake-up. So, in the next days I'll be launching the next phase in the war on Caps Lock: the Million Dollar Keyboard. Stay tuned, and stop shouting!