How the [backspace] wiped out the role of typist…

Ok, not completely on its own but yes, the Backspace contributed heavily to why, nowadays, you’ll find very few positions for ‘typists’ in any organizations.

Step back thirty years ago and most offices employed several typists who would type out letters, official documents and contracts. They were trained professionals that honed their skills over years and were respected for their accuracy and speed. After all, making even a single mistake required that a whole page had to be redone.

So why don’t we have typist in our offices anymore?

As with so many jobs that got obsolete in the last 30 years the answer seems simple: The digital revolution. But where did the work go to? We still need written documents? Even if many nowadays never make it into physical print versions anymore, Being able to draft correctly worded, accurate documents is as important as ever.

From Task specialization to Task agility

The thing is, we don’t need typists anymore because we all do it ourselves nowadays. After all, any office/knowledge worker out there knows how to write, right? Yes, that’s true but we don’t have the accuracy, speed or formatting skills that these former typists had.  So how do we do it then? The thing is we don’t need them anymore as modern technology has given us:

  • Voice dictation that allows us to dictate a text and have it put to text as fast as we can think of it
  • Templates and programs to construct legal paragraphs that take away the necessity to know all the legal jargon
  • Autocorrect to take away any errors we make and help us to produce flawless (well, sometimes) documents in languages we might not even be 100% fluent in
  • Digital editing with features like the [Backspace] that allow us to correct anything before committing it to paper
  • And the microprocessor that allows us to do all this anytime, anywhere on our mobile devices…

We’ve gone from a world where specialization was all about being able to perfect individual and highly specialized tasks, involving analog tools and machines that tied us to an office. To a world where the ability to do lots of different tasks ourselves with the help of our digital devices is what makes us effective and successful. It’s not necessarily about knowing everything there is to know about your specialization anymore or spending 40 years in the same job but about how agile and successful you are in bringing together knowledge, skills tools and people to do the job right.

Having that trusty backspace there to help you correct any errors on the way…