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Being Creative: Periodic Table of Keys


There's something very appealing about the iconic "periodic table" image. I've often thought about trying to do my own take on it, like a "Periodic Table of Cheese", arranged by strength of flavour, or squishyness. But I'd have to know a lot about cheese...

I can't really explain how, but one day the essential griddedness of the computer keyboard in front of me triggered a thought about doing a Periodic Table of Keys. The goal was really to rearrange the keys in that iconic outline. As luck would have it, there was dead laptop keyboard being thrown out at work. I salvaged it and popped the keycaps off. I went to some effort to clean them as well as I could, for fear of cooties. I did a trial arrangement of the keys and was quite pleased with the result.
First try

I found a couple of discarded desktop keyboards a few days later and harvested their keycaps: I really wanted a variety of colours for the different groups. I played around a bit with different divisions of the keyboards, but there are some fairly natural groupings (eg Function keys) which also tend to be coloured alike. I arranged the keys on gridded graph paper but it was still quite difficult to line things up neatly. Eventually I had a layout I was pleased with and I posted it on Flickr and into the Make group.
I gave it a caption of "Being a Modest Proposal as to a Tabular Arrangement of the Key Board employing a Natural Classification" trying to give it a 19th Century feel. I named the groups "The Functionals", "The Alphabeticals" etc.

It's been extremely popular. It was picked up by the Make blog and as I write this, the image on Flickr has been viewed 3500 times. Googling for "Periodic Table of Keys" gets 70 hits. Some taking it a little seriously.