NPR : News

Filed Under:

Text-Talented Or R U All Thumbs?

Back in front of my computer where thankfully I can use more than my thumbs to type, I see that Austin Wierschke of Rhinelander, Wis., grabbed the title again at the competition in New York City this afternoon. He's the first texting competitor to win back-to-back titles.

Last year, finalist Rachel Taylor Blakely said she practiced by texting her friends AND texting the words from her schoolbooks. A savvy multitasking move and strategy in case her texting competition career is unexpectedly cut short.

And, to even the playing field, contestants aren't able to use a phone of their choice in the competition. This could help or hurt a text-er if they spent their training time mastering one type of phone — such as a touch-screen device or a phone with a QWERTY keyboard — and that style ends up not being used in the competition.

Brianna Hendrickson, the 2010 champion, told she prefers QWERTY phones.

"With touchscreen phones I just don't know where anything is and ... I make a whole bunch of mistakes and I have to keep backspacing and it's so annoying," she explained.

This year's phone was a Straight Talk LG Optimus Zip — touch screen AND QWERTY keyboard. All thumb pads covered, as it were.

But don't be fooled, text competitions are about more than just limber thumbs and smartphones. Here's some of what Wierschke and other contestants had to tackle on Wednesday: texting a challenge phrase while blindfolded, translating "text speak" into "regular speak," "text sdrawkcab!" (which is texting backwards) and a text-off with the audience.

Still, at the end of the day 17-year-old Wierschke typed his way into another $50,000. Me and my two left thumbs?

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

Urban foragers don't just pick their meals from the trash; many eat only the finest, freshest produce — picked from city trees. The League of Urban Canners harvests fruit from trees to make jam.

Reconsidering The Pilgrims, Piety And America's Founding Principles

Conservatives who want to emphasize America's Christian roots embrace the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact. But some historians say their role in the country's founding is overstated.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.