1530: Keyboard Mash

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Keyboard Mash


Cueball is chatting with White Hat, who says he is frustrated because a barking dog is preventing him from sleeping and White Hat mashes the keyboard to show his frustration. Keyboard mashing is often used in this way where the user makes their hands spasm across the keyboard, creating a line of text that can be compared to an angry groan in real life. Cueball is about to give some advice, but is confused by a quirk in what White Hat typed. All the characters he typed (except one) were on the home row of the QWERTY keyboard, the row starting with the letters A, S, D, and F, in the middle of the keyboard. The letters A, S, D, F, J, K, and L (all from the home row) are scattered throughout the text, but there is a 7 (which comes from the numbers row, on top of the keyboard) in the middle of this text. Cueball, wonders how White Hat put a seven in there, because if White Hat was keyboard mashing and touched the 7 key, he likely would have hit any of the QWERTY row keys because of keyboard mashing hand spasms, but he didn't. All the other characters were on the home row. White Hat berates Cueball for always focusing on strange, tiny details. When the final panel shows what's going on where White Hat is, we see that a giant spider has imprisoned him in a web and is talking to Cueball, which explains how the keyboard mashing "White Hat" did was strange.

The reason the dog was barking appears to be because the giant spider was lurking nearby. Little did White Hat know that the dog was alerting him of the spider. When the spider notices that White Hat mentions the barking dog to Cueball, the spider apparently restrains White Hat and takes over typing. Another possibility is that the "dog" barking is actually White Hat, as he is seen making grunts from beneath the spider's silk. It can be seen in the last panel that the spider is typing with 3 legs, which explains how the 7 key would have been pressed.

The statement "I am a normal human typing with my human hands" is attemptedly an oddly specific assertion from the giant spider that it is actually a human, a claim that would normally be taken for granted and had not really been cast into doubt by Cueball's inquiries about how "7" got into a string of home-row keystrokes.

The title text invitation ends with a similar statement, suggesting that they "...CHAT ABOUT OUR INTERNAL SKELETONS", which spiders (unlike humans) do not possess and which are not a common conversation point among humans, helping to demonstrate (along with the spider's suspiciously specific denial and using the phrase cook bread instead of bake bread) that the spider is not very good at blending in as a human. This implies that the spider also wants to trap and possibly eat Cueball as well, or actually hang out with him in an attempt to make friends or to find out how humans talk so the spider will be able to blend in better in the future. "...HANG OUT INSIDE MY HOUSE" may also have a double meaning, as White Hat and the spider are actually "hanging" from the ceiling inside White Hat's house. Also another oddity is that the spider asks Cueball to cook bread, although bread is actually baked, and in any case this isn't a common pastime during the night (the spider could also mean make toast). The final oddity is that the title text is written in all caps which is usually interpreted as shouting and would not be used in a casual invitation, although the title text should just be imitating the fact that the rest of the text messages use a font that make them look like they are in all caps.

The central theme of the comic is a vindication of Cueball's world-view, wherein tiny oddities such as the appearance of a numeral in a keyboard mash merit investigation. In the real world, the appearance of a "7" in the middle of a home row keyboard mash is more likely attributable to key ghosting.

Alternatively, the fact that Cueball uses the phrase "all your hands" instead of "both your hands" or "both of your hands" could indicate that Cueball (and likely other people as part of a coordinated uprising of giant spiders) has also been taken hostage by a spider, and the spider behind Cueball's profile picture knows that the organism behind White Hat's profile picture is a spider, not a human. This would also explain why the spider behind White Hat's profile picture feels that the spider behind Cueball's profile picture pointing out the usage of a numeral among home row keys is weird; spiders know that other spiders have many legs and that these legs do not have to be in the same section of the keyboard.

In the title text of 1541: Voice there is again a reference to a sentence that could be uttered correctly by a human, but would never be used in real life. But a non-human entity that tries to blend in as a human, may inadvertently use such a "wrong" sentence to try to ensure other people think they are indeed humans. It is a direct reference to the type of sentence used in the title text here.

This comic is somewhat unusual in that the panels are read from top to bottom instead of being read from left to right in more than one row. This may be in order to accommodate the second panel, which must be tall due to containing a text conversation, without making the comic look weird due to the second panel being much taller than the first panel.


[Cueball approaches his desktop computer, which has emitted a message seemingly from White Hat as it displays a picture of him.]
New chat message
[Below the chat log is shown with White Hat's comments on the left in gray frames and Cueball's comments to the right in white frames. The first post in a row from each person is labeled with their picture at the end of a small arrow in the frame]:
White Hat: Can't sleep. Stupid dog keeps barking.
White Hat: So frustrating. FJAFJKLDSKF7JKFDJ
Cueball: Ugh, I'm sorry. Maybe you could...
Cueball: ... Okay, wait. I have to ask.
Cueball: How did you hit a "7" in the middle there?
White Hat: Huh?
White Hat: I was just randomly keyboard mashing.
Cueball: Sorry, Right.
White Hat: Anyway,
Cueball: I know this is silly, but like... All your hands were clearly right on the home row.
Cueball: I don't get how one finger could have stretched up to the "7".
White Hat: Why do you always fixate on these bizarre details?
Cueball: I don't know.
Cueball: Sorry.
White Hat: It's weird, is all.
[Chat transcript continues above White Hat's laptop, as it started in the first panel over Cueball's computer. But now we see a human-sized spider suspended from the ceiling by web is using three of its legs to type on the laptop. Behind the spider, White Hat is suspended from the ceiling upside down, almost totally encased in spider web. He tries to speak. Between them, a chair has been knocked over onto its back.]
Spider (as White Hat in the chat): I am a normal human typing with my human hands.
Cueball (chat): Yeah, of course. I know.
White Hat (speaking): Mmm!! Mmph!!!

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Spiders. We knew this would happen someday.

So, the plot seems to be that he went outside to deal with his dog, and the spider got inside, perhaps lurking in his room and striking when he sat down at his computer, hence the keyboard smash. It could be him being taken, or perhaps the spider getting adjusted to the keyboard rather clumsily, what would you see as more feasible? And from then on, it's the spider typing? 06:23, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

"All your hands" were on the home row? Surely he means *both* hands or all *fingers* - unless he's already aware of the spider? Plot hole? 06:43, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

Good catch. May be he always was aware he was talking with a spider. And the las comment from the spider is just sarcastic. Arturotena (talk) 07:46, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that had me wondering too. Perhaps the spider didn't realise she needed to turn the webcam off? Paddles (talk) 09:20, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Plot twist: They're both spiders. Webgrunt (talk) 15:17, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

The comment "I am a normal Human typing with my Human hands." seems like something Beret Guy would say. Perhaps his time with Beret Guy has desensitized Cueball to those kind of comments? 09:08, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

On the other hand, beret guy wouldn't accuse someone of being "weird" or "bizarre" Zeimusu (talk) 09:13, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Internal skeleton

In the title text, the spider invite to “CHAT ABOUT OUR INTERNAL SKELETONS.” Of course, the spiders, being arachnid, are invertebrate and don't have internal skeletons. Humans have. My guess is the spider is trying to fool the human. :-) Arturotena (talk) 07:34, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, Mr. skeletal. 11:08, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

Number of "Fingers"

It is 7 keys - "fingers" that are used for the smash on the home row. Spiders have 8 legs. Anybody else notice that? lg tier666 07:44, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

I count 8 keys: 7 letters and the digit "7". Bit, since the letters are repeated, the spider couldn't press all of the with its legs at the same time. All of this make me think that a spider could be an awesome typist. Arturotena (talk) 07:51, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Turing test

The spider passed the Turing test. Of course, the test were for machines, not arachnids. Arturotena (talk) 07:54, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

What if?

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the current "What if?" at http://what-if.xkcd.com/136/ is also spider related. It comes with a health warning: "If you're a serious arachnophobe, you might want to skip this one." :-) . Gearoid (talk) 08:09, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

What should be the name of the picture of White Hat? White Hat/Spider or White Hat Chat Avatar or Spider with the acces of White Hats Avatar or spider who seems to be White Hat or Spider who replaced White Hat in the Interweb of better Names I couldn't think of yet. And how do we know, that Cueball is Cueball as well maybe this is the invasion of the spiders who come through the web!! ẞ qwertz (talk) 10:32, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/310959549243301172/ That is all. - Frankie (talk) 11:51, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Possible reference by the title?

A keyboard mash by a monsterous spider... (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

That's what I thought as well :P Daedalus (talk) 09:00, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Where's your dog now?

Maybe the dog keeps barking because of the Spider. We should totally think of many different ways, how the spider got inside the house and when. ẞ qwertz (talk) 10:12, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

The dog is probably a reference to Terminator 2 where a barking dog reveals the terminator identity. 12:45, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

Good catch. In that case, it'd also confirm another apparent fact in the comic: It was the spider talking the entire time. [In the movie, the dog is barking because the terminator already killed the owners.] I also like the idea that the spider was talking about the owner, who keeps making noise; but even if there is no dog, it could still be a Terminator 2 reference. [And either way, I don't think White Hat was ever the one talking. It appears the spider started the conversation with the intention of luring more victims over, and when imitating a normal human keyboard mash, accidentally gave himself away.] Az-x (talk) 14:15, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. 16:29, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

Keystroke Dynamics

I see a hint to keystroke dynamics in this comic, which is being increasingly used to assert someone's identity online. 16:55, 27 May 2015 (UTC)xquestion

Back 30+ years ago I had an Apple II+ with a keyboard that did EXACTLY this. Every time you "keyboard mashed", there were odd "7"s and "5"s appearing where none should be. Aside from this comic now having creepy undertones for me, personally, this seems like a factoid about ancient keyboards that's worthy of a "Did You Know?" bullet. What do you guys think? 02:36, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

That would be key ghosting. Daedalus (talk) 09:00, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Spiders FTW!

I am so glad that spiders can only grow to about 5-8 inches before physics stop them. Though prehistoric times were awesome, they had dragonfly bodies the length of thighs with 26 inch wingspans and cockroaches half a meter long! I've let a 1/3rd foot Madagascar hissing roach walk on me in a museum and don't mind but I think I'd be scared to see the underside of that half meter cockroach! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Thrackerzod, is that you? 03:11, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Disagree with the flag: I do not find the explanation "too chatty", nor do I think cutting it to 1/3 the size would be beneficial. (No, I had nothing to do with the writing of it, just thought I'd voice my support of the original author) 21:01, 27 May 2015 (UTC)larK

Number of "legs" of the spider

The spider seems to have three "legs" typing on the keyboard (in fact antennas). It could explain the strike on the "7" key. --ArséniureDeGallium (talk) 09:06, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

The spider has 8 legs, which is what spiders normally have, and it uses three of the front legs to type - i.e. it is not antennas. But yes one of these three legs explains the 7. But it is interesting that it only hit 8 different keys, although 17 hits in total. But as we can see it hanging, it is obvious that it did not use all eight legs to type. --Kynde (talk) 12:01, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Just watched LOTR Return of the King yesterday just before I saw this comic, so Shelob was the first thing I thought about... But I do not think it should represent her... But White Hat hangs in the same way that the Orcs did in her tunnel. sdalkfjas8dlkjdsf --Kynde (talk) 12:04, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Aren't most xkcd comics in uppercase? If so, then the chat should be treated as normal text typed with normal casing. Forrest (talk)14:52, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

I agree with this, I don't know why it has been assumed that the chat log is all in UPPRECASE. Possibly it is in the official transcript? --Pudder (talk) 11:21, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Ok, have checked the official comic info, and the transcript isn't included. I don't see any reason that this is caps, so I'm going to change it. --Pudder (talk) 11:29, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Alternate Explanation

Is it possible that, while being attacked, White Hat deliberately mashed the buttons like this because he would know Cueball would find it odd and thing something is wrong? 16:16, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

  ;+ it's think not thing ~MR SPELLING POLICE173.245.56.113 20:56, 3 September 2015 (UTC)
Cooking Bread

Wouldn't cooking bread refer to making toast instead of baking bread? 12:43, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

Cooking Bread

Cooking bread may be a mistake on the spider's part. The spider may have have meant breaking bread. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Your correction is very astute. A spider would not know this, but normal humans, such as we, of course do. Would you like to come bake bread which we can then break with out human teeth prior to consuming? 16:50, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
Cooking Bread

Baking is a type of cooking... Whoop whoop pull up (talk) 16:58, 28 April 2017 (UTC)

In the Artemis Fowl book series, Doodah Day makes a similar statement while impersonating Myles (“... like human kids do”) and then attempts to explain it away by saying that he’s pretending to be an alien. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)