In reading your discussion regarding the steno vs. keyboard shorthand debate, for someone who is not thinking about stenoing as their career, I think it would be more beneficial to learn steno over a keyboard-based abbreviation system depending on what goals you have in mind for its use. For instance, steno doesn't really help me write formal compositions like essays or articles because I can't think at 250+ wpm to write an essay.
The only glaring drawback I see to the keyboard system is the amount of time it would require to build a usable dictionary (and remember it).
... But either way, you vastly reduce the number of strokes even while adhering to phonetic principles simply by virtue of the fact that one can compress more data per unit of time in steno, period.
Keyboard system (parens indicate number of strokes):
became: bca (3)
become bco (3)
because: Ctrl + B (1)
became: PWAEUPL [baim] (1) / phonetically: PWE/KAEUPL (2)
become: PW-PL [b-m] (1) / phonetically: PWE/KOPL (2)
because: PWAUZ [bauz] (1) / phonetically: PWE/KAUZ (2)
Anyway, I just wanted to put myself out there since I already feel like an ambassador of steno for the younger/future generation and I love spreading the word. I just don't understand why so many people either don't know about it or consider it an old lady's profession, an arcane and/or outdated technology. I feel like if this style of data input were harnessed elsewhere like in mobile phones and tablets, for example, that HIDs would be ****in revolutionized. Steno-Swype?!?! But alas, people are lazy, un/misinformed, or all the above. I guess that's why we stenographers have jobs (and make bank!).
I'm at a bit of a loss as to what you feel needs to be "remembered" with keyboard shorthand. With about 7000 short forms, if somebody randomly selected 100 of them and asked me what the short form would expand into, I would probably only know about 3-4 of them, simply because there's no need to know that. It's not important. What IS important is what the full form can be reduced to. It's not a question of being "arbitrary". It's simply a question of each person working with the tool that they know best - their own mind. It only seems arbitrary to a second party. To the user, there's an internal logic at work which doesn't need to be explained to anybody else.
Put simply, there's nothing to "learn", because you're "teaching" yourself.
Your example of "become/became/because" isn't quite correct, as your keystroke count failed to include the "execute" keystroke. The difficulty I initially came across was that what seemed to be the simplest abbreviation was in fact not always useable, because with both MS Word and WordPerfect the expansion of the Autocorrect/Quickcorrect function was tied to the space bar and/or punctuation symbols. A simple example of the difficulty is the abbreviations for days of the week and months of the year. I initially considered a logical system (ie MY logic) would be the first two letters, but June and July put the mockers on that. I could have created an exception, but a system with exceptions is neither logical nor systematic, so I went to the first three letters, but several of the abbreviations were "real" words; mar, may, Jan, sat, sun etc, hence the moment I hit the space bar, I had an unwanted expansion. The choice was to try and "think" my way out of it by creating an abbreviation which was unlikely to come up in the normal course, or devise a system which worked around that problem. So I simply worked out how to move the expansion function from the space bar to a key of my own choosing, so that I could create abbreviations without any constraints whatsoever, except the unlikely chance that the abbreviation was already attached to a different phrase. I suppose in 20 years I can only recall about half a dozen instances where an abbreviation was already "taken", and in almost every case I discarded the initial phrase and replaced it with the later one. It is MUCH more common (probably by a factor of 10 or 15) to have several abbreviations for the same final form, which is not a problem, because it increases the chance of a successful expansion, and as time progresses I become used to using just one abbreviation, which then frees up the remainder.
Your point about creating a "usable dictionary" doesn't seem to be a problem, simply because the typist is ALREADY able to type everything in full, so you are then sitting on a baseline speed which you work up from. As soon as you add a single short form to create your dictionary, it's usable, and there is an immediate (if miniscule) increase in performance. As you add more, your performance increases. There's no question of "editing the **** out of" an existing dictionary created by someone else. The only editing (other than spelling correction) I've ever had to do is occasionally (eg once a year or so) go through my word list and delete anything which is unlikely to be used again, probably because it was a "case specific" abbreviation. Unlike MS Word, WordPerfect has no limit on the size of the word list (my current major list is about 330 KB), so this clearing out is not essential, but useful nevertheless.
Your point about using steno for chatting on line etc is one which I use myself. The only requirement is that the program I'm using must have access to the Windows copy-and-paste clipboard. I'll use my word processor with all its functions to generate the text, then a single keystroke macro copies the entire text to the clipboard, I switch to my chat program and then paste the text. When I return to my word processor the entire text is still selected, so as soon as I hit a keystroke, the old text is replaced by the new. (But it remains in the clipboard until I replace it, which has proven useful on one or two occasions.)
I don't say that keystroke short forms are any better (or worse) than Stenotype work, but simply that they both work. Like yourself, I make a heap of money (or made, since I'm now retired but still do a small number of jobs to keep my mind active) using this technique. It was interesting that in the 2-3 years before I retired I was on the books of a few secretarial agencies, and my two main ones had me on their books as a "stenographer", and they were still getting requests for my services. For these two agencies I was the ONLY stenographer they had.
And yes, like yourself, I always took my own keyboard (and eventually computer) to the offices.
To me the "glaring drawback" of stenotype is the amount of study which required "a lot of work".
On your point "you vastly reduce the number of strokes even while adhering to phonetic principles simply by virtue of the fact that one can compress more data per unit of time in steno", I haven't checked lately (probably 5 years) but I estimated then that my keystroke saving was in the vicinity of 40%.
Below is an example I've cut and pasted from my bloghttp://proword-transcription.blogspot.com/
HIS WORSHIP: Yes, thank you?
MR MONITOR: May it please the court, my name is Monitor, I appear on behalf of the first and second plaintiffs.
MS FEATHERN: May it please you sir, Ms Feathern for the defendant.
HIS WORSHIP: Yes, thank you.
MR FRANKLE: May it please you your Worship, I appear for the third party.
HIS WORSHIP: Yes, thank you. Mr Monitor?
MR MONITOR: If your Worship pleases, this is a copyright case involving an action by the plaintiffs as against the defendant, Richard Keith Haute. The case arises as a consequence of the second plaintiff, Homestead Holdings Pty Ltd, otherwise trading as Anthem Homes, being a builder that designed a set of drawings for a house to be built for the defendant, a Mr Richard Keith Haute. The - - I'll call them - - instead of calling them the second plaintiff, I'll call the second plaintiff Anthem Homes, if that pleases the court, the third party, Beeswing Holdings Pty Ltd, that company trades as Machard Homes, so we have Anthem Homes and Beeswing Homes. Gregory Thomas Ching, he is the owner of the copyright, the original architectural design, of a particular design of house, and he licensed the use of that to Anthem Homes. For the purpose of these proceedings, your Worship should have an amended particulars of claim, particulars of amended defence, amended statement of claim against the third party, and a re-amended particulars of defence by the third party.
What I propose to do is take you through the particulars of claim to start with. The first plaintiff is a building designer. He will give evidence to tell the court of his background and experience. The second plaintiff is a company that is incorporated. On the amended defence there is a denial of the Anthem Homes or Homestead Holdings Pty Ltd being an incorporated company. That denial is now withdrawn.
MR FRANKLE: Can I just rise, and I do apologise to my learned friend for interrupting him, but there's a minor housekeeping matter that should be dealt with at this early stage.
HIS WORSHIP: Yes.
MR FRANKLE: And that is for the third party. I simply seek a direction, that we haven't had one the past, although the case has been run that way, and the direction I seek is the direction that the third party's liability to the defendant be determined at this trial.
Above is the published transcript. Below is what I actually keyed in. It looks a bit of a mish-mash but I'll try and explain my "code". Where you see an asterisk "*" followed by a letter, this is a key stroke combination. Eg *t means I pressed Ctrl (Or Alt) T to get the text string "the". However where you see a text string followed by a hash "#", this is a QuickCorrect expansion. Eg Yh# means I've typed "yh" and hit my expansion key to get "Your Honour".
As you can see there is a considerable saving in keystroking, an even greater saving when you take into account the "invisible" savings created by reduction in typing errors. An example is my proclivity to key the word "the" by typing t-e-h- [backspace] [backspace] h-e. So using the keystroke Ctrl T actually saves me typing more than one extra keystroke.
If this text appears to "jammed up" this is because when there is a change in speaker, the new paragraph spacing is included in the keystroke combo, as described above.
*1Yes, t*k? *3Miplc#, my name is Monitor, I ape# obhfo# *t ft# and sec# ptf#s. *4Mipl# y* sir, Ms Feathern for *t dft#.*1Yes, t*k. *5Mipl# y* yw#, I ape4# *t 3pty#. *1Yes, t*k. Mr Monitor? *3If yw* pl*s, this is a copyright case ivog# an acn# by *t ptf#s as ais# *t dft#, Richard Keith Haute. *t case arises as a cnsq# of *t sec# ptf#, Homestead Holdings Pty Ltd, otw# trading as Anthem Homes, be*i a bldr# *h designed a set of draw*is for a house to be built for *t dft#, a Mr Richard Keith Haute. *t - - I'll call *tm - - instead of calling *tm *t sec# ptf#, I'll call *t sec# ptf# Anthem Homes, if *h pl#s *t crt#, *t 3pty#, Beeswing Holdings Pty Ltd, *h coy# trades as Machard Homes, so we hv# Anthem Homes and Beeswing Homes. Gregory Thomas Ching, he is *t owner of *t copyright, *t orgl# archtl# design, of a pt# design of house, and he lcs#d *t use of *h to Anthem Homes. For *t pu# of *tse pcdg#s, yw# sh*o hv# an amdd# pt#s of claim, pt#s of amdd# dfc#, amdd# stm# of cl# ais# *t 3pty#, and a re-amdd# pt#s of dfc# by the 3pty#. *W I pps# to do is ty# thr*g *t pt#s of cl# to start with. *t ft# ptf# is a bldg# designer. He will give ev# to tell *t crt# of his bakg# and xpc#. *t sec# ptf# is a coy# ie# inc#d. On the amd# dfc# th# is a denial of *t Anthem Homes or Homestead Holdings Pty Ltd be*i an inc#d coy#. *h denial is now wdwn#. *5Can I *j rise, and I do apols# to mlf# for interrupting him, but th#e's a minor hskpgm# *h sh*o be dtw# this early stage. *1Yes. *5And *h is for *t 3pty#. I simply seek a drn#, *h we hvn# had one *t past, alth*g *t case has been run *h way, and *t drn# I seek is *t drn# *h *t 3pty#'s lbly# to *t dft# be dtm#d at this trial.
This transcript is from about 6-7 years ago, and I've increased my dictionary by about a third since then I would imagine, so were I to do it again today it would be even more efficient.