Experts Say Your Fingers Can Type 24/7, Forever, Until You Die
Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do, and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.
On the internet there exists a group of people who really love typing. Not writing or posting, but the raw, mechanical act of typing. They spend hours playing competitive typing games like TypeRacer and Nitro Type in an effort to push the limits of what’s possible on a keyboard.
Some, like Sean Wrona — who brought competitive typing briefly into the mainstream after winning the Ultimate Typing Championship at SXSW 2010 — are sprint typists, trying to type as fast and as accurately as humanly possible in short-timed segments. Wrona pecked out an average of 163 words per minute in his 4-minute championship run, back in 2010.
Endurance typists, on the other hand, are pushing the boundary on something far more unknown — just how long can a human physically type for? In these typing marathons, endurance typists try to maximize the amount of time they spend typing in 24 hours. And some, in order to break records, type far longer than the 24-hour period. One typist, Vielle, who requested we not use their last name to maintain their privacy, typed for a reported 36 hours straight in 2017.
Vielle’s record shows that it is possible for a human to type nonstop for more than a day, but it prompts a question that has no easy or simple answer: Can a human type forever?
The hardest part of marathon typing, say competitors, isn’t pacing efforts or physical pain, but the effort of staying mentally focused. “It certainly will be every bit of hell if you dull through every second and keystroke,” says Vielle, who had just graduated from high school when they broke the marathon record in 2017. To keep from spacing out, Vielle usually watches videos on the side as they type at a “reasonable” pace of 100 words per minute.
While the average person probably cannot type fast enough to induce any sort of noticeable muscle fatigue — maxing out somewhere around 75 to…